Back-friendly cycling: what should be considered?

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Cycling is healthy, environmentally friendly, inexpensive and fun. That's why millions of people regularly ride their bikes. But what many do not know: Cycling on a bicycle that has been set incorrectly can sustainably and permanently damage the back and spine. Because cycling is only really healthy if man and machine are optimally coordinated. And since you can not change the anatomy of the human, logically, the bike must be adapted to individual needs - not the other way around.

What to look for when buying a back-friendly bike

The optimal seating position for your back results from six different parameters, which must be individually adjustable for a good bike. You should pay attention to these peculiarities when buying a new bike so that it does not harm your back:

  • seat height
  • saddle position
  • saddle angle
  • Handlebar height and tilt
  • seat length

The suspension is also an important criterion for buying a back-friendly bicycle.

seat height

The seat height is the distance between the saddle and pedals. This should be so long that the legs are never fully stretched when pedaling. When the pedal is down, the heel should just reach the pedal.

saddle position

With a bike optimized for the back, you can steplessly push the saddle forwards or backwards and adjust the saddle position. Ideally, if the pedal is in a horizontal position, a perpendicular from your front kneecap would have to run right through the center of the pedal bearing

How should you sit on the bike?

The more upright you sit, the more your body weight is shifted to the buttocks, the pressure on the ischial tuberosities and the back of the saddle is particularly high. When pedaling, ie a high-low movement, the ischial tuberosities are alternately loaded. That's why the saddle has to adapt to this movement.

An air-sprung saddle (for example, airseat) contributes to these movements, reduces seat discomfort and reduces possible pressure on the urethra. Due to individual buttocks and gender-specific differences between men and women different saddle shapes are to be considered.

saddle angle

However, the best fit saddle shape is of no use if the saddle is mispositioned, for example due to wrong saddle inclination. Important here is the saddle nose. If it is too high or steep, then the pudendal nerve is pressed and it can lead to numbness and inflammation. If it is too wide, then the thighs rub sore when sitting.

Incidentally, the more slanted the posture, the more important is the shape of the saddle nose. When the saddle nose pushes, a saddle with a shorter nose or a saddle with a slightly downward tip helps, but be careful not to slip forward. Recommended for the selection of the saddle is expert advice, preferably combined with a long test drive.

Handlebar height and tilt

The adjustment of the handlebar is of particular importance, because it determines the angular position of the back to the pelvis. Recommended is an upright sitting position. The handlebar height is adjusted by pulling the stem out of the fork or changing the setting angle of the stem. The correct steering angle ensures a comfortable hand position and relief of the joints. Very good is a handlebar that allows variable grip positions.

seat length

Remains the seat length. That's the distance from the saddle tip to the middle of the handlebar. This should be about three fingers longer than the forearm from the elbow to the fingertip. Here, however, also applies: Above all, the upright posture and the personal feeling is important.

The suspension of the wheel

Not only for people who love comfort: the full suspension has found its way into everyday cycling today. It reduces impacts and bumps due to road bumps. That spares the spine. The German Sport University in Cologne has studied the effects of suspensions on the spine and found that with fully sprung bicycles the shocks are reduced by 35%.

A full-suspension bike has a fork and a rear suspension, which spares the entire holding apparatus of the cyclist; Driving safety is also improved and the service life of the bike is extended. Of course, a full suspension must be adapted to the body weight of the cyclist.
If you follow these tips when buying a new bicycle, nothing stands in the way of healthy cycling.

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