Ace Your OMWDC: Prevent Positional Pain

Positional pain is something you don't want when you are tackling the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century - fix it now!

By The Bicycling Editors |

The Old Mutual Wealth Double Century looms large… six weeks away, you still have time to tackle positional pain. What’s that, you ask? Sore bits that can be cured by getting your posture on the bike sorted while you still have time.

To troubleshoot the most common cycling pains, we spoke with physical therapist Erik Moen, who sees around 1 000 cyclists a year as the owner of Corpore Sano Physical Therapy and BikePT. For the most part, Moen treats recreational cyclists—many of whom are “fresh off the desk” and either gearing up for an endurance event, or recovering from one. Understand that not all pain is a natural part of riding far, he says. “If you’re riding at a high level, it might exhaust you and put pressure on your hands and feet. But if you’re having aches and pains that are lingering and limiting your training, you should question what’s going on and seek help.” 

Here’s what Moen prescribes to fix and prevent your frequent aches. 

Up Your Mileage // Asking your body to hold an unfamiliar position can cause lower back pain, knee pain, and extremity numbness. Luckily, preventing it is simple: Ride more. Spending more time on the bike before your event will help you build the strength needed to hold your pedaling position longer. 

“The weekend-warrior approach can be a recipe for disaster,” he says.

Adjust Your Bike Fit // Poor saddle position is a common issue—a too-high saddle can lead to lower back, neck, and shoulder pain. If your hips are rocking from side to side when you pedal, lower your saddle by a few millimetres. If you’re experiencing knee pain, try raising your saddle instead. Excessive reach to the handlebar strains your lumbar region and shoulders because it creates a longer lever, or more distance between the handlebar and your base of support, and requires more strength to hold the position. If you feel stretched out, tweak your cockpit distance—raise your bars, try a shorter stem, or reposition your saddle by moving it forward or back by a few millimetres. If your hands start to hurt or feel numb, use a level to check that the saddle isn’t tilted forward or backward.

Keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. You should visit a clinician or PT like Moen if you’re facing persistent pain.

Improve Your Pedal Stroke // If your saddle height is dialled in and your knees are still hurting, a low cadence could be to blame. When your cadence is low and you’re pushing a big gear, it can create lower back strain and patellofemoral compression, or pain under and around your kneecap. Increase your cadence and spin in a lower gear to put less pressure on your knees. Moen recommends that cyclists aim for 80 to 90 rpm. 

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