Ergonomic Products: Great advances but be cautious….
I wanted to write a short post to crystallise my thoughts and opinions on the proliferation of ergonomic bike components and aids which aim to help you ride more comfortably or efficiently.
On the whole I am really impressed by the advances that have been made. Specialized’s Body Geometry system (www.specialized.com) continues to be a forerunner in all things injury prevention. Their products have evolved a long way and continue to help improve levels of choice and bespoke options for riders of all shapes and sizes. Fizik have also developed some great products, in particular their range of saddles which caters for different levels of hamstring and spinal flexibility is very impressive and I use their saddles myself.
The reason for my caution in the title of this blog, however, is that if you intend to purchase one of these products in the hope of alleviate an ache or pain when you are riding, I strongly recommend consulting someone with a working knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics before splashing the cash. Having worked in the bike retail industry myself, I mean no disrespect to any sales staff in any bike shop, I am simply trying to let you know that any ergonomic product is only as good as the accuracy of the person advising you on which size or setting to buy. The tendancy is that when the latest product is distributed to stores, there may be some accompanying hardware for measuring some part of a riders anatomy, before referring to a chart to tell them which component choice to make.
In short, the system may work for 75% of people and they will gain some comfort in getting a saddle, grip or shoe which is better suited to their anatomy, just be careful because if you are not lucky and your body doesn’t fit the template then you could end up creating more problems than you solve. For example, a saddle which is good for someone with very tight hamstrings would not necessarily work for someone who has stiff or fused Lumbar vertebrae, but they may look very similar to the untrained eye when asked to bend over and touch their toes.
I am also a big fan of Ergon Grips and the science behind the products is great, just make sure you pay good attention to the instruction booklet and if you don’t seem to be able to get them in the right position. The fit of this type of grip can also be finely tuned for a rider to make sure that they are positioned perfectly to provide the strongest possible support from the fingers up to the shoulder, which in turn will help you attenuate the load going through your arms properly and help you ride even more comfortably.
That’s it really. I don’t want to stop anyone trying these products as they are definitely a big step forward to helping riders of all abilities ride more comfortably and stay injury free. I just wanted to help and advise that before you buy anything, go and see a sports rehab specialist or physio who can look at the area giving you problems and help you get the RIGHT product to suit you.
All the best, Happy Riding,