Back pain, IT band pain, knee pain, foot pain and toe pain—just move straight from the mid section of the body down to the furthest spot on the little toe and say it hurts. One hour into a ride and you're already turning around and heading back to the car. You (I know I am) should be thinking, why haven't I gone in for a bike fit?
Bike FitA bike fit will correct many of the aches and pains that cyclists have from riding. Yes, the fees vary anywhere from $200 to over $300, but it is worth every penny. But before you shell out your hard-earned cash, ask around for recommendations for a good bike fitter. Don't think because a shop has all the latest bells and whistles that they are the best. A USAC coach once told me that there are some really good products on the market for bike fitting, but it is the person who conducts the fit that makes the difference.
Core Strength WeaknessGetting a bike fit is the first step to making your ride more comfortable. The next step is to discover what else could be wrong—like maybe gluteal or core strength weakness.
Dr. Andrew Pruitt, author of the Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists, says that most persistent aches and pains in our back, knees, ankles and feet are due to weakness in the gluteus.
The gluteus muscles are in your buttock region and are used (along with your quads) to press down on the pedals. There are several muscles in that area: the glut maximus, the glut minimus, the glut medius, the piriformis and several other smaller muscles that are important in preventing back and knee pain.
A couple of years ago I started to complain of IT band pain every time I hit the two-hour mark on the bike. I went to see a sports doctor and his advice was this: You can stretch the IT band every day, but the pain stems from weakness in your gluteus!
The gluteus is your cycling powerhouse. These muscles will help you spin faster, have a smoother pedal stroke, and gain more power. Yet few cyclists work to strengthen or stretch the gluteus, opting instead to focus on developing strength in the quads and hamstrings.
Getting a good bike fit and building strong gluteus muscles will get you two steps closer to being more comfortable and pain free on the bike. Listed below are four exercises you can do to help strengthen your cycling powerhouse and prevent back and knee pain on the bike.