Nothing beats a beautiful bike ride in Oregon’s hills and valleys on a summer’s day – except perhaps that well-earned pint with friends afterward. And according to Hillsboro physical therapist Kent Bond, this enjoyment (and the exercise that goes with it) can be greatly enhanced by simply getting a professional bike fitting.
“Cycling allows you to drink a lot of beer,” joked Bond, owner of Impact Physical Therapy of Hillsboro. “But on a more serious note, cycling helps mentally when you have to process things. Cycling is the motion that keeps us going – it keeps the heart and lungs and mind very active.”
But beyond simply providing the comfort which allows you to most fully enjoy cycling, a professional, biomechanical bike fit is essential in helping avid cyclists – from road riders to mountain bikers – perform at their best while avoiding pain, discomfort, numbness and/or injury.
The ultimate goal of a bike fit, says Bond, is ensuring the two machines (the bike and the body) are optimally positioned to work fluidly and comfortably while getting the most out of the energy the cyclist puts into each turn of the crank.
“It’s often all about tiny adjustments that, once made, make a world of difference to the cyclist,” Bond said. “These adjustments can be to the bike or to the way a person moves on the bike, but often it’s a little of both.”
Such modifications to a cyclist’s bike may include adjustments to the handlebars, the seat or the cleats. As for the cyclists, Bond and his team may focus on the way one turns the cranks due to poor posture, weaknesses in the legs or core, or simply working to improve one’s breathing on a ride.
Cyclists bring their own bikes into each fitting, of course, and the Impact team uses video and motion analysis during the assessment process.
“It’s best to come in for a bike fit after you purchase a new bike, or if you’re feeling discomfort on your rides,” Bond said. “And if you’re striving to improve competitively, a bike fit is a must as it will improve the efficiency of your ride, making sure both you and your bike are performing together optimally.”
Cycling is a low-impact sport that is great for all ages, from youths and adults to seniors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cycling is in the top 10 most popular forms of sports and exercise for those over the age of 15.
Along with getting a bike fitting, Bond adds that avid cyclists should also be mindful of bike fitness by practicing recovery rides, stretching, and adhering to the 10 percent rule when increasing distance (i.e., never increase distance by more than 10 percent at a time).
And of course, working with a physical therapist for bike fitting and any other movement-related ailments and injuries is a must for long-term performance and health on the bike.
“You need to find that person who knows you and your passion and understands how the human body fits on that bike,” said Bond. “Oftentimes, because of education and background, physical therapists are a good fit for that.”