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Cycling for Beginners: Basic Bike Setup | Physio-Flex Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic

Cycling for Beginners: Basic Bike Setup and Safety Tips


We have been noticing a lot more people using cycling as their daily exercise recently and thought we would bring you some useful tips to ensure you areoptimising your comfort, performance and safety.


Top cycling tips for beginners:

  • Safety is paramount: always ensure you wear a helmet that is well fitting and remove any earphones prior to starting your journey


  • Plan your route: some roads can be daunting for beginners, cycle paths can be a better place to start to increase you confidence and mileage


  • Review some road safety basics: know where to position yourself at roundabouts and be aware of basic hand signals to keep you and others safe 


  • If you are new to cycling build up gradually taking rest days in between. As with any new exercise regime doing too much too soon can make you fatigued, at risk of injury or frankly just fed up. Consider a training diary to monitor your volume and progress


  • If stationary cycling or “clipping in” remember to push and pull which will increase the work of more muscles in your legs


  • A stretching or mobilisation routine after riding may be beneficial and prevent muscle soreness. Be sure to target the main muscles groups of the leg (see video below) which shows some variations for hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and quads.


Ensure your bike is the optimal fit for you, we have a useful video on the main points to assist you.


basic bike fit tips


There are many different schools of thought on the “perfect” bike fit and you could spend hours getting the ideal alignment, but for casual riders you can do your own screening with a few basic checks.  Ideally try this with someone looking at you on your bike, if you do not have a trainer you can do this easily by just leaning your bike against a wall. 


First of all with the set-up, very simply we should be looking at 4 main points (see below for video):


  • Frame size


When standing over the bike you should have about 1 inch clearance between the top tube of the bike and the top of your legs (groin area) 



  • Seat height


At bottom of stroke there should be a slight bend in the knee of about 25-35 degrees

Sit on the saddle, put the pedal to bottom, place heel onto pedal – your heel should just touch pedal and your knee should be straight. This means when you assume cycling position with the ball of your foot on the pedal, there is a slight bend in knee.

This is an important point as often people will complain of pain if the height of their saddle is not quite right:

Too low – Increased stress on the knee which may cause knee pain

Too high – increased rocking of hips due to overreaching may lead to back pain


  • Saddle setback/layback


Sit on centre of saddle. When pedals are parallel to ground and level with each other (in the 3 o’clock position) the tip of knee should be roughly in line with centre of pedal (or ball of the foot). 

Too far forward – increased  pressure on front of knee which may lead to knee pain

Too far back – this can cause saddle discomfort



  • Handlebar reach


Arms should have slight bend in them throughout

This may be more challenging to sort for the casual cyclist as if the saddle is at the correct position you do not want to change this. Lifting or lowering the handlebars for comfort and that allow about 45 degree bend in the back and for the upper body aim for approximately a 90 degree flexion in your upper arm to your torso . This may change depending on individual’s flexibility and how aggressively you wish to ride. 


If you have any questions about pain from cycling or any other sport please get in touch with one of the Physioflex Team on or on 01506 237770


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