Don’t watch me ride a bike. Sure, I can get from point A to B, but it ain’t pretty. I move too much on the saddle. And, if I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning rider told me to lower my seat just a quarter inch, I’d be rich. It’s not that I’ve ignored them – in fact, I have taken the seat down a bit, and I still rock and roll all over the Front Range.
I’m not in pain, but I’m not efficient. I just have to work harder to get anywhere. That stinks. Getting up to Ward is hard enough…
I scheduled a Medical Bike Fit with Larry Meyer, PT, DPT. Larry wears many different hats. He is a PT at ALTA and he owns Boulder Movement & Sports Performance where he performs bike fits. Having your bike fit done by a PT is a whole different animal.
First, it doesn’t start on the bike. It starts with an evaluation of your physical impairments and your structural limitations. Physical impairments are things like weakness, muscle or joint tightness, and faulty movement patterns. Larry records the impairments as the first step in your bike fit. Then there are structural limitations: these are things like scoliosis, a leg length difference, or flat feet. They are also important to notice because they might need to be accommodated for by making changes to the bike, or your shoes and cleats. Knowing what matters to achieve a pain free and efficient ride and what is just “noise” takes experience and a solid background in biomechanics. You have to know body mechanics and bike mechanics. That’s key.
So you’ve had your body evaluated. Now for the bike.
Larry videotapes you riding, then measures, then tweaks and looks again. Tweaking might mean changing your saddle position, or mobilizing your hip. It might mean adjusting your cleat, or mobilizing your ankle, or both. All the while you are watching yourself ride on the big screen and Larry is explaining what he sees. Is the saddle the right saddle for you, in the right position, and the right angle? Turns out, my saddle was too low. He did some very cool measurements to ascertain that, and showed me why. He bases all his data on norms collected through research.
So the first question is: what elements of movement-strength, flexibility, joint mobility, and motor control-are affecting your ride? The second question: is the bike set up to accommodate your body. The third question: what can you do, as a rider, or what can Larry do, as a PT, to fix those body problems? It will likely be a combination of working on both the body and bike that gets you to the perfect solution.
Larry has been doing bike fits for years – he’s done over 900 and counting. Since 2014, he has been teaching medical bike fitting courses to Physical Therapists across the nation. He is a guest speaker this year at the California annual PT conference. When your background is Physical Therapy, and your passion is biomechanics, it is a great combination. His intuition, combined with experience, helps him quickly determine the changes that need to happen. For both your body and your bike.