Mountain Bike Fitting Tips to Avoid Hand, Knee, and Back Pain While Riding

Mountain biking is quickly becoming one of the most popular outdoor sports in the country due to the numerous advantages it offers people who give it a try. Within a short amount of time, it is possible to turn yourself from a couch potato into someone capable of riding several hard miles through outdoor trails and giving your whole body a workout. However, while there are several benefits to starting a regimen of frequent mountain bike riding, it is still possible to injure yourself if you begin to ride without taking some time to fit yourself to your mountain bike beforehand. Just as different people of different foot sizes require different shoe sizes to be able to get around without hurting their feet, mountain bikes also come in different sizes and dimensions to help you match the unique dimensions of your body to the fit of the bike. Establishing a proper fit on your mountain bike is important so you can reduce the risk of injuries to different parts of your body such as your hands, your knees, and your back while you are riding on the trails.

The first area to consider when establishing a proper fit on your mountain bike is the height of the saddle, which is another term for the bike seat. The height of the saddle can make a significant difference on the levels of comfort you feel all over your body, but especially in your knee and back areas while you are on the trails. If your seat is too high, you can suffer from extension pains in your knees and cramping in your back as you try to adapt your body to the improperly fitted seat. Similarly, if your seat is too low, which is the more common misfitting of the two scenarios, you can suffer from cramping and tightness in your knees as they are not allowed to extend properly when your leg is constricted due to a too low seat. When the seat is too low you can also suffer from back pains as your back may be too straight or too curved for you to be comfortable riding for extended periods of time. To fit your saddle height to your actual height, a quick way to get started is to straddle the bike while sitting on the saddle. Your feet should just touch the ground when they are extended and pointing straight down. Depending on the person, you may be fine with your whole foot touching the ground, while other people will prefer to have only their toes touching the ground. If both feel equally comfortable, then go with having your toes touch the ground. This will help your legs extend to just the right amount when you are riding, which will help your knee and back feel better. Keep in mind that if you intend to do a lot of riding in rough conditions where you may frequently have to dismount the bicycle, it may be a good idea to slightly lower the saddle height so your feet can touch the ground completely, which can make it easier to dismount the bike in an emergency.

When you are looking to establish a proper fit on your mountain bike, you should also consider the height of the handlebars, as the handlebar height can have a significant impact on the level of comfort you feel in your hands and in your back. When the handlebars are too high, you will be forced to have a back that is more straight than you may be comfortable with, and your hands may grow tired from resting so high on the bicycle as you travel. Conversely, when you have the handlebars set up too low on your bike for your particular body chemistry, your back may also contort in the opposite direction, and you may find yourself stretching too much to reach the brakes and maintain control of the bike, which will contribute to additional stress on your hands and can lead to aches and premature fatigue all over your body. You can increase your chances of finding a proper fit with your handlebars by adjusting them until they feel comfortable in your hands.