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Can't Get Correct Position on Bicycle: Any Ideas?

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 22 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cycling Pain Hand Handlebars Bike Body


I am a female and have just started cycling for fun. I have no desire to pedal full out and just want to go at a leisurely pace. I have found that if I am too far forward then I get pains in my hands. I have therefore adopted a more upright position which has relieved the pain from my hands. I have now found though that if I cycle for more than 30 minutes, I start to get pain in my coccyx and don't know if this is likely to be a poor saddle or from being too upright? Any ideas?

(C.A, 8 August 2009)


Cycling should not be painful and it’s no fun if it is. Hand pain when cycling can be caused by excessive pressure on the valley in the heel of the hand. This may mean that the handlebars on the bike are too low. If it’s the skin of the hands that hurts, the solution may be cycling gloves, whereas numbness in the fingers can be caused by bad upper body posture. Likewise, wrist pain is often caused by poor upper body posture, but having the saddle too low at the front can also lead to wrist problems. That is because the rider tends to slide forwards and will then constantly use her hands to push herself back into position.

As for coccyx pain, there is a very good chance this is caused by poor cycling posture. Remember that good posture while cycling is very different to good posture when sitting or standing. That is because when cycling, the rider has to incorporate the pedalling action and absorb jolts caused by bumps in the road.

When cycling, the rider’s back should be arched so it can absorb any jolts safely. Sitting bolt upright will mean the spine has no capacity to absorb jolts and is not suitable if the rider to going any faster than a brisk walking pace. If an upright riding position is the only option for a rider, she should use some form of suspension, such as a sprung saddle.

Many cyclists’ ailments can be cured by riding a bike that is the right fit for them. When a cyclist fits her bike well, she will ride more comfortably and efficiently. Her body will be relaxed and her bike-handling skills will improve. She will also generate more power effortlessly.

When choosing a new bike, go for a frame size that is as small vertically as possible. There should be enough length horizontally to allow a relaxed, stretched out upper body. If the frame is too big for the rider, the bike will be too heavy, whereas if the frame is too small, the bike will be less comfortable and more difficult to handle.

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