Physical therapist offers tips for painless biking
Ryan Summerlin May 21, 2013
For South Lake Tahoe physical therapist Chris Kozlowski, it’s not “just like riding a bike.”
The phrase used to describe returning to an activity with ease diminishes the techniques necessary for the most effective pedaling, Kozlowski told about a two dozen attendees to a presentation on maximizing bicycle performance at Kahle Community Center Wednesday evening.
“There are so many different skills you have to have to ride a bike properly,” Kozlowski said during the talk, part of Barton Health’s 2013 Wellness Lecture Series.
Climbing, descending, pedaling, braking, cornering and steering are all among the skills bicyclists can develop to more efficiently bicycle, whether it be in the mountains or on the road, Kozlowski said.
The physical therapist, who has been fitting bikes for two years, said a properly adjusted bike can be the difference between a painless ride and numb extremities.
“Believe it or not, your butt shouldn’t hurt,” Kozlowski said.
Having the knee bent at approximately 35 degrees at the bottom of a pedal stroke will provide the most power, while a 90-degree angle between a person’s arms and back is ideal, Kozlowski said.
“These are the basic angles that put the least stress on the body,” Kozlowski said, leaving room for personal preference. “It also depends on what you’re comfortable with.”
Focusing on using a circular spinning motion with your feet rather than a mashing “piston” motion can also ease torque on a bicyclist’s lower back, Kozlowski said. She used the example of scraping snow off your shoe to get the spinning motion.
Which gear people should use in certain situations is a common question among bicyclists, Kozlowski said. There is no “right” gear, but she recommended bicyclists cadence of 75-90 revolutions per minute for the least impact to their bodies.
In addition to proper technique, things like nutrition can often get overlooked when it comes time to pedal, said Rob Panzera, a cycling coach with Cycling Camp San Diego who will host this year’s Near Death Experience Bike Camp at Kirkwood Mountain Resort June 6-9 in preparation for this year’s Death Ride.
“The big thing I really see is people invest a lot of equipment,” Panzera said, noting they often overlook the fuel they’re putting into their body.
With the popularity of cycling on the rise, Panzera said there are plenty of resources, and plenty of noise, about technique. Still, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, Panzera said.
“If they learn a little bit it will make their ride so much more enjoyable,” Panzera said. For those bringing their bicycles out of hibernation, he recommended regular rides, even if they’re short.
“It makes a big difference,” Panzera said.
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