Hips are an integral part of cycling. That’s why it’s common for many cyclists to complain of hip pain cycling. However, not knowing its cause and remedies is the most worrying bit.
But to help you better understand cycling and hip pain, here are 10 cycling positions/postures that cause hip pain and how to fix them.
1. High Saddle Position
A saddle, also known as a bike seat, is one of the crucial contact points when cycling. Thus, an incorrectly positioned one can cause hip pains. A high saddle position means the seat is set high making pedaling challenging.
So, your hips have to work harder to reach the pedals. This causes unnecessary strain on the hip flexors and can result in pain in the front of the hip, lower back, and knees.
Furthermore, the strain is also due to the struggle to pedal while maintaining adequate contact on the handlebars and a forward focus.
To fix this posture and position, it’s recommended to lower the saddle such that the hips remain stable while pedaling. The best way is to lower the saddle to a comfortable height that allows for a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
2. Hunched Over Position
Also known as a rounded or flexed spinal posture, the hunched-over position is when you lean forward with the back rounded and head down. The position makes you contract and shorten your hips and all associated muscles, thus tightening and overworking them.
Normally, these muscles keep your spine and pelvis stable while your legs pedal. So, by overworking them, you strain them contributing to hip pain after cycling.
There are several ways to avoid cycling and hip pain due to a hunched over position. One way is to maintain a more neutral spine posture while cycling. This means keeping your back straight and your head up.
You can also do core strengthening exercises to improve posture and stability, reducing the tendency to hunch over. Additionally, taking regular breaks to stand up and stretch during long rides can help alleviate discomfort.
Although it may seem similar to the hunched-over position, an extension posture can be due to several reasons. This position strains the lower back, which leads to discomfort and pain.
In most cases, it’s due to having a bike that is too large for your body or when you incorrectly adjust the seat height, handlebars, or stem. Overextension can also occur due to poor flexibility, core strength, or poor cycling technique.
Furthermore, with such a position, any movement may cause outer hip pain while cycling. The best way to fix this is to get a properly fitting bike. Alternatively, adjust the bike by bringing your handlebars closer or adjusting them upward to avoid overextension.
You can also maintain good posture while cycling, engage your core muscles, and relax your shoulders. Stretching and strengthening exercises can also help improve flexibility and core strength, reducing the risk of overextension injuries.
4. Foot Position
A wrong foot position in cycling refers to a foot placement on the pedal that is not optimal for efficient pedalling. With such a position, you experience biomechanical stress on the hip joint, leading to pain or discomfort.
One wrong foot position in cycling is when your feet are positioned too far forward or backward on the pedals, which can lead to overextension or overflexion of the hip joint, respectively. Overextension or overflexion can cause the hip muscles to become strained or tight, leading to pain or discomfort.
To prevent hip pain caused by a wrong foot position in cycling, it is important to focus on maintaining proper foot alignment and pedaling technique. You should aim to keep your toes level and feet centered on the pedals, with your knees tracking straight ahead.
A proper bike fit can also help ensure the cyclist’s foot is positioned correctly on the pedal.
5. Low Saddle Position
A low saddle position is a major cause of hip pain after cycling. By the seat being too low, the hip constantly grinds against itself, especially when ascending.
This position causes you to ride with knees excessively bent and hips rotated forward. Thus, you place excessive stress on the hip flexor muscles, which can lead to hip pain after cycling.
In addition, this posture can cause you to overuse your quadriceps, contributing to hip pain, a condition known as hip osteoarthritis.
Fixing this problem involves adjusting your saddle height to a comfortable and appropriate level. The correct saddle height is when the leg is almost fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke, with a slight bend in the knee.
You can also have a bike fit professional help you adjust the saddle height and other bike measurements for optimal comfort and performance.
6. Unequal Weight Distribution Position
Unequal weight distribution is a common cause of cycling hip pain on one side. This happens when you place excessive strain on one hip, leading to imbalances and compensations in the body.
One cause of unequal weight distribution in cycling is shifting your weight to one side, such as during a turn or while riding on a sloped surface. This can cause one hip to bear more weight than the other, leading to strain or discomfort in the overloaded hip.
Additionally, an uneven saddle can affect a cyclist’s body weight distribution, which can cause one hip to be higher or lower. The result is an uneven weight distribution and resulting in hip pain.
The fix is to maintain a balanced and neutral riding position. Also, avoid shifting your weight to one side during turns or on sloped surfaces.
7. Poor Bike Fit
Though not a posture per se, a poor bike fit contributes to positions and postures that lead to hip flexor pain due to cycling. In most cases, if your bike is not properly adjusted to fit your body size and shape, it results in an incorrect riding position.
This places unnecessary stress on the hips making cycling uncomfortable and painful. Specifically, cycling a bike without a proper fit means having an improper saddle height, angle, or position.
Preventing hip pain from this position is easy. You only need to do bike fitting and adjustment to ensure the bike is adjusted correctly to fit your body size and shape. This can include changing the saddle height and handlebar position.
It is also important to regularly check and adjust the bike fit as your body changes over time. Regular stretching and strength training exercises can also help improve hip mobility and prevent tightness or strains in the hip muscles.
8. Improper Pedalling Technique
An improper pedalling technique can cause pain by placing unnecessary stress on the hip joint and surrounding muscles.
One common mistake is pedalling with a low cadence or a high gear. This requires more force to push and can cause the hips to rotate excessively. The excessive rotation of the hips can make the hip muscles strained, making it painful or uncomfortable.
Furthermore, an improper pedalling technique is when you “mash” on the pedals. This is when you push too hard with quadriceps muscles rather than utilizing the full pedal stroke and engaging the hip and gluteal muscles.
The result is an overloaded hip joint. The remedy for this is focusing on the push-pull mechanics of cycling to distribute the pedalling pressure evenly. This technique reduces hip flexor strain and pain.
9. Wrong Handlebar Position
A wrong handlebar position is a major cause of cycling hip pain on one side. The handlebars can be too high or low, causing you to hunch over or overstretch.
No matter the handlebar’s position, your hip area will strain and lead to pain if it’s wrongly adjusted. Usually, if too high, you overstretch, making pedalling hard. On the other hand, if too low, you hunch over and strain your hip area.
Fixing this cause is easy because you only need to adjust your handlebars. This way, you will achieve the correct cycling position that isn’t strenuous.
Adjusting handlebars correctly entails positioning them to a height relative to the saddle and hips. Proper handlebar positioning leads to a more upright position, taking pressure off the hip joints.
10. Incorrect Clothing
From face value, clothing might seem unrelated to cycling postures and positions. However, they play a critical role and thus deserve mention in this space. Typically, you need proper clothing, especially on your hip and groin area, to enhance your position and posture.
Wearing too tight or restrictive clothing can limit hip mobility and cause the hip muscles to become strained, leading to hip groin pain after cycling. Most cycling shorts are designed with padded chamois to provide cushioning and reduce pressure on the hips and buttocks.
Fixing this is easy and requires you to wear clothing designed for cycling.
Whatever your hip pain from cycling is, it’s completely avoidable with the correct positioning and technique.
These ten cycling positions/postures mentioned above are the common ones. However, by following the mentioned fixing methods, you can enjoy a comfortable and pain-free cycling experience.
Relevant article for your read: 6 cycling postures that cause neck pain.