Sit bones/perineum: Every new rider deals with a period
that most cyclists would call getting “saddle-hardened,”
which essentially means being used to sitting on a saddle
for hours at a time. Many new riders will think the answer
to discomfort in the saddle is simply a bigger saddle, but
that’s not usually the case. Instead, a saddle with the
proper width for your sit bones is most important. This
is harder to evaluate on your own, but if you are experiencing soreness even as an avid rider, be sure to get
measured at your local bike shop or, at least, demo a few
different saddles to find what agrees with you.
Hands: Like wrist pain, hand pain or numbness is likely a
result of too much pressure on the hands. First, try raising your handlebars up a little bit at a time to balance out
the weight distribution. If your bike position is in order,
it may be your personal riding position that is to blame.
Make sure your elbows have a slight bend to absorb
impacts rather than riding with locked-out elbows that
can transfer too much energy to your wrists.
Feet: Experiencing numbness or “hot feet” can be common, especially on long rides. The first thing you’ll want
to check is that the cleat position is correct on the shoe.
If the cleat position and saddle height are both correct,
the culprit is most likely your shoes. Shoes with flexible
soles are great for off-bike excursions but don’t offer the
full-foot support of stiffer shoes. Even if you are using
mountain bike shoes that were once stiff, they may have
outlived their usefulness with age. If your shoes are
plenty supportive, you may need to fine-tune the fit to
your foot inside the shoe with arch support. Many shoes
today, such as Specialized and Giro, offer different height
supports from the start.
Quads/hamstrings: As with your knees, your hamstrings
and quads can help you locate the trouble spot on your
bike by the location of the pain. Hamstring pain is often
caused by too high of a saddle height or a saddle that is
too far back, while quadriceps pain is most likely due to
too low of a saddle. Additionally, an improperly positioned
cleat can also be the cause of pain in either case.
Calves: Pain in your calves can be caused by a number
of sources, including cleat position, saddle height and
saddle position. Most likely it is caused from a saddle
that is set too high or too far back, which causes the rider
to reach too far to the downstroke of the pedals.
Shins: Shin pain is most commonly associated with long-distance runners who often complain about “shin splints,”
but cyclists can also experience pain here. The problem
most likely is caused by too low of a saddle height or an
improper cleat position. Even if your saddle and cleat
position are correct, your pedaling form may be the problem. If you are dropping your heel too far, it is similar to
runners landing too much on their heel when they run,
which is the cause of shin splints. Instead, try pedaling
with your foot in a flatter position through the bottom of
the pedal stroke. ❏