Bike Fit is Key to the Joy of Cycling!
Earlier this week Excy co-founder and CEO Michele Mehl interviewed Erik Moen of Bike PT and Corpore Sano PT. We focused the discussion how to make cycling pain free and fun no matter your age or ability level. After all, anyone who wants to should be able to experience the joy of cycling! In the spirit of our Mother’s Day May theme, we focused on new and aging mothers interested in the cycling life, including overcoming potential challenges to due to childbirth or getting older.
Erik is a national authority on bicycle biomechanics and injury intervention and prevention. He is passionate about ensuring proper bike fit. All with a focus of helping people overcome bicycling related injuries, and helping people understand bicycling biomechanics for health, prehab, rehab, post-rehab. He specializes in adapting bikes to people’s orthopedic needs, whether a road bike, mountain bike, upright stationary bike or stationary recumbent bike.
During today’s interview, we talk about competition, leisure riding, recumbent bikes, road bikes, stationary bikes, ebikes and more. The key takeaway: proper bike fit matters for a fun, safe, and pain free riding experience.
Erik has been instrumental in providing Excy bike fit tips for our riders as we push to make the joy of cycling available to all, even if bedridden or battling an injury, disability or diagnosis.
We have included a video of the interview, as well as a summary below.
Preventing Common Injuries Through Proper Bike Fit
During the interview, Erik discusses how the bicycle industry in general is made more for men than women. Because of this, he says women who are small in stature may not have well-sized equipment, which is crucial for pain-free cycling.
The most common injury Erik sees is around the knees. Often, knee problems occur when a saddle is not at the right height for the rider. Many riders prefer a low saddle height because it feels more comfortable and stable. However, but a low saddle generates causal factors for knee pain. Combine incorrect saddle height with a slow cadence (another mistake Erik commonly sees) and riders risk knee pain and injury.
Monitoring pain can be as simple as walking a few times up and down your stairs. If this activity suddenly becomes uncomfortable, chances are you are doing something funny on your bike.
Don’t Let the Saddle Scare You: New Moms Can Cycle Too!
Erik gave some great advice for what new moms can do to jump back into cycling activity if their body allows. While saddle comfort can be an oxymoron, there are ways to make cycling accessible and comfortable, even soon after childbirth. Erik believes the easiest way to begin cycling postpartum is on a recumbent bicycle.
Recumbent bikes at the most basic level are bikes that place the rider in a reclined seating position as opposed to an upright seating position. For Excy, we make recumbent cycling possible from a comfortable chair as both a short wheelbase (SWB) recumbent bike and long wheelbase (LWB) recumbent bike. But, women can explore the recumbent on outdoor recumbent bikes as well as traditional big stationary recumbent bikes.
Not only does a recumbent bike allow you to begin pedaling again, but it stretches the hip flexors and engages the lower abdominal muscles in a gentle manner. If a new mom wants to remain active while watching their newborn, Excy offers the perfect solution. With the XCS 200, you can pedal from your couch without leaving your newborn’s side. Even breast-feed or pump while pedaling.
If a recumbent bike is not what you are looking for, yet tissue sensitivity is still a concern, Erik recommends choosing a saddle with a cut out or area decompression to maximize comfort. However, it is not all about the actual saddle. The tilt of the saddle, along with the orientation of the handlebars, are crucial components of cyclist comfort. Erik can trace most common ailments – like hand, neck, shoulder, and low back pain – back to incorrect saddle position. So, whatever you ride…ride with proper mechanics!
New Aging Riders: Bike Fit, Timing, and Safety First
As we age, recovery time from an injury increases, as do the negative side effects injuries may have on our bodies. Bicycling is not as simple as “riding a bike.” Even if you’ve been a long time cyclist, our bodies change, so always revisit proper bike setup for an optimal experience.
In addition, always place safety first. Riders must navigate bumps in the road, loose gravel, other cyclists, and cars without falling off or crashing their bike. If someone is just starting out, especially if they are older, the fear of injury from a fall is a very real concern. If you are new to cycling, Erik recommends a bike with wider tires to help stability. He also points out that there are peak cycling times any new riders should avoid. While it may be tempting to go for a ride on the first beautiful Saturday of the year, there may be too many hazards in the form of other cyclists. Pick a less crowded space to start and try to minimize hazards and distractions: safety should be the top priority!
Erik also sings praises for electronic bikes, also known as ebikes. Erik considers ebikes to be great equalizers. If you want to cycle outside but are unsure you can make it up the inevitable hill, then the ebike might be your solution. As we age, ebikes allow us to remain active with our families and experience the outdoors without worrying about over stimulation. With ebikes, you can still get the freedom, sense of adventure, and camaraderie that cycling offers without leaving your body wasted for the rest of the week. Those who prefer or need the ergonomic comforts of a recumbent bike can also enjoy recumbent electric bicycle or tricycle options.
The Importance of Activity on Quality of Life
There are certain activities that help optimize your pathway through life. If you keep up mobility, flexibility, strength, and coordination, you decrease your chance for injury and disease down the line. If you can safely bike outside and even train to compete, that is fantastic. However, as Erik describes, not everyone has the physical ability, which is where Excy can make a life changing impact. You do not have to leave your house – or even your bed – to gain the benefits of cycling.
Cycling is often a physical therapist’s go-to for rehabilitation. Whether a patient has a torn ACL or meniscus or traumatic joint injury. This is because cycling generates a safe, careful range of motion. Cycling is also one of the best stimulants for redeveloping your vastus medialis obliquus (VMO), which is necessary for reducing knee pain and injuries. With Excy, you can also pedal in reverse without risking knee damage, working opposing muscles and strengthening more of your skeletal muscular system.
This Mother’s Day, if you are willing and able, experience the joy of cycling with family, friends, and colleagues. That could mean anything from training for a triathlon, cycling indoors to strengthen your cardio and strength, or taking advantage of ebikes to bridge endurance levels. Whatever cycling life you choose, crank on with your bike properly fitted!
Explore More HealthYeah Interviews!