Clinical Cycling Analysis – Do I need one?

Physiotherapist and Bike Fit Specialist, Michael Harrop answers this commonly asked question.

This is certainly a common question in our clinics — ranging from a first timer who was fitted’ in the shop when they bought their bike to the experienced rider who had one a while ago’. If you are uncomfortable on your bike, suffering niggles or currently have an injury exacerbated by cycling the answer is… yes!

Proper bike position is critical to provide comfort, improve performance and reduce overuse injuries. With riders in the saddle for hours at a time injuries are thought at to affect up to 85% of people. With first timers, the fit in the shop is good enough to get them out on the road but many complain of pain on longer rides. As riders gain experience their fitness improves and body adapts meaning their fit on the bike needs to be adjusted accordingly as they go faster and for longer. 

During a bike fit we make adjustments at the 3 main points of contact; the pedal, seat and handlebars. The most common injuries/​pain points are: the knee, lower back, perineum, hands and feet.

Here are two quick fixes for common on the bike niggles.

Knee Pain

This is the most common complaint accounting for up to 65% of injuries. Typical causes are increased knee flexion at the top of the pedal stroke. This leads hitching of the hip and increased rider lateral movement. An easy way to assess this is to measure the angle of knee extension when the leg is at its straightest point.

In the picture below, my knee angle is 144 degrees or 180144.7 = 35.3 degrees. This is within acceptable limits although recent research recommends a straighter knee angle of 25 – 30 degrees as optimal.

FIX: For this example if I experienced knee pain, then raising it to increase knee extension angle by 5 – 10 degrees could certainly make a difference.

M Harrop bike

Primary Image — Michael Harrop

Hand Pain #

In the picture above, my upright body position is easy on my niggling lower back but is poor for aerodynamics and speed. My elbows are locked to provide support and so are not soft and relaxed. This position can put extra strain on the hands and wrists, leading to pressure on the ulnar nerve and numbness into the fourth and fifth fingers.

FIX: Bringing the seat forward allows me to bend my elbows to take the weight through my triceps and reduce hand pressure. Furthermore tilting the angle of the bars upwards allows me to flex my wrists more easily and reduce pressure.

During your Clinical Cycling Analysis there are many aspects assessed and adjusted, where necessary, and it’s certainly not just about angles; we take in to consideration the rider’s balance, control and how they feel on the bike.

If you need further advice or a fitting Michael Harrop is based at the Pure Sports Medicine, Canary Wharf and Ricky Davies is available at our Moorgate clinic.