How you pedal is important to your riding efficiency as well as your comfort on a bike. If you pedal well – biking will be easier for you and less likely to cause discomfort on the bike. .
The action of turning your pedal (known as a pedal stroke) comes from the large powerful muscles in our legs. These muscles work to drive your hip, knee and ankle joints, to push the pedal. For these muscles to work well they must be able to work off a strong and stable riding position. Your ‘A’ Riding Position. Without a good stable spine when riding your big muscles that produce your pedal action can produce all sorts of horrible forces on your low back and pelvis that can potentially lead to pain and dysfunction. Learn about your ‘A’ Riding Position.
If you are not wearing clip in shoes we need to consider placement of your foot on the pedal. The ball of your foot needs to make contact with the pedal. Close to the arch of your foot. The heel position relative to your toes should be similar to when you stand. Basically your heel should not point excessively out or in.
This will give you the most efficient transfer of energy from those large powerful leg muscles through the foot then to the pedal. It will help you to maintain a position of stability so it reduces the chances of your foot slipping or getting thrown from the pedal. A position that allows you to have relaxed ankles which will allow good movement of the ankle.
Alignment of Hip, Knee and Ankle
When you pedal your knee should be in line with your toes. When viewed from the front, your hip, knee and ankle should all line up. As you look down during a pedal stroke there should be times when you can’t see your toes because your knee should block your vision.
You must first ensure you have a correct foot placement and then alignment of your knee to your foot.
The Action of Pedalling
The most important message is that the whole action is smooth, continuous and rhythmical, not jerky. If we can keep the momentum and focus on the push phase of the left and right leg during a pedal stroke you are well on your way to efficient pedalling.
A pedal stroke refers to a full revolution of the pedal that is going from 12 to 12 on a clock face. However both the left and right leg contribute to this revolution, to a pedal stroke.
- Push Phase – The most powerful part of your pedal stroke is the push part, between 12 and 5 o’clock for both legs. This is also the easiest and most natural part of the stroke. We have big muscles that are designed to do that push. During this phase push down through all 3 joints the hip, knee and ankle. Focus at pushing down through the heel.
- Momentum Phase – With a good efficient push phase you will have momentum to carry you through from 5-6 o’clock
- Recovery Phase – (Note the opposite leg is in the Push Phase during the Recovery Phase) the leg is light on the pedal during this phase, so as not to provide any resistance to the push from the other leg and allows this leg to come around to prepare to repeat its push phase
Pedalling is continuous from one side to the other, a complete pedal stroke (from 12 to 12 on the clock face) comprises
- L leg push and momentum while R leg recovery
- R leg push and momentum while L leg recovery
and so on. Often we can have a dominant leg, so be aware if both legs are even? Is your left and right leg contributing equally?
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