Tuesday, January 11, 2011
For all of you Windows users out there, you might be interested in the Taiwan Bike Ride theme for Windows 7. I don't exactly know what it means, but if you are like me and get excited to see Taiwan getting some media attention in ways that have nothing to do with China, then you might like this.
Cycling on Taiwan's streets poses a number of hazards to riders. Weaving scooters, poorly trained or impatient drivers, cell phone driving, blind alley merges and dooring are all regular hazards that come with the territory, forcing many riders off the streets into the safety of the gym, where an instructor can lead them through an hour of spinning in an air conditioned room without the additional expense of equipment. More experienced riders also attend these spinning classes to improve fitness and operate at a higher cadence.
Now, a Taiwanese doctor has come out to warn these stationary riders that their little corner of the cycling universe is also fraught with danger.
According to a report in Taiwan Focus, stationary bikes can be a hazard to your health. According to the article:
Although cycling is deemed a fairly safe form of exercise, Pan Hsiao-ping, chief of the Su Tien Urology and Ophthalmology Clinic's rehabilitation center, said excessive stationary bike workouts can damage the knees, neck and wrists.
"Most patients are unaware of the potential harm of cycling indoors, " said Pan, explaining that some people adopt inappropriately intense exercise regimens in their efforts to lose weight and improve their fitness levels.
Stationary bike users, especially those in group spin classes, get so excited by the accompanying music and the instructor's exhortations that they forget the limits of their own bodies and fail to notice that they possibly have poor posture, she said.
She said that riders in a more upright position, for example, can put too much weight on their wrists, while cyclists with too-low handlebars that are not adjusted to their height can hurt both their neck and wrists.
There you have it. Cycling of any form can be harmful... if it is not done right.
I think the real lesson here is that being properly fit for a bicycle is essential to avoiding injuries. Many cyclists are not injured by cars or road furniture, but by their own bikes.
What the article really highlights is how a laissez faire attitude toward bike fitting can become a health disaster. The risk of fit injuries becomes greater as the distance increases and the repetitive motion starts to put strain on the joints and tendons. This can be true for both bicycles and stationary bikes.
A proper fit should balance the weight bearing load between the sit-bones, wrists, and mainly the core muscles of the body to limit stress.
In Taiwan I see many novice riders outfitted on mountain bikes for road use with the assumption that they will be more comfortable due to a more upright position. I have even had the owners of a bike shop insist that road bikes were uncomfortable due to the more extreme position. With their extreme compact geometries, they can throw more riders over the bar of a mountain bike and sell more stock... fit or not. Many riders are also not taught about proper fit and set their seats too low resulting in knee pain.
The doctor makes an excellent point in how an improperly fitting bike with an upright position can put stress on the wrists and necks.
With stationary bikes, as the proverbial town bike, everyone can have a ride and many people in spin classes simply hop on and don't worry about fit. Many instructors do not emphasize this point either, resulting in lasting injuries to the participants.
A properly sized and fit bicycle, whether stationary or mobile, should eliminate pain, discomfort and injury to its rider. Even a fit problem that doesn't manifest itself in one hour, may become a problem in two, three or four hours... or even over the course of a week or a month. Listen to your body and don't get beat up by the bike. If you haven't been properly fit, get fit by a professional. In Taichung, Rocky and T-Mosaic charges NT500 for a good fitting. The service is of course free with a purchase. My wife, a novice, was fit for her road bike with traditional road geometry and could ride in total comfort from Day 1.
It is not so much the bike, but the fit.
Hello Dali... goodbye Schweinfurt! SRAM exports German jobs to Dali in Taichung.