Healthy exercise with the right bicycle pedal
In addition to walking, we recommend cycling as one of the most healthy physical activity options for your back. This type of sport is generally ideal for improving your overall fitness level. However, if you complain about pain in your hip, knees or ankle after a bicycle ride, it may be due to a bicycle component that we don't think much about – the bicycle pedal. Along with the grips and saddle, this is an elementary component for pain-free cycling. On a quick ride to the baker, to school or a nearby destination, you probably will not notice much. But if you ride every day or ride longer distances on your bike, e-bike or pedelec, we definitely recommend taking a closer look at it. Sometimes having the right bicycle adjustments and ergonomic accessories can spare you the pain you experience from cycling.
On the go more often and for longer distances
The ZIV (Bicycle Industry Association) estimates that the number of e-bikes (including pedelecs) on German roads is currently more than 10 million. Compared to conventional bikes, they are used considerably more often and over longer distances. Imagine: on average somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 kilometres per year, according to the ZIV. This means the occasional short rides are increasingly turning into medium to longer tours. That makes well-designed bicycle ergonomics all the more important.
What happens if you have the wrong bicycle pedals?
Most people who ride bikes for long stretches of time do not think about the interplay of feet and pedals much or at all. If the foot position is not ergonomic, this can create various problems. When pedalling, the leg axis (ankle/knee/hip) is often not straight and the knees move too far to the outside. The result: knee pain – especially on longer tours. A poorly aligned leg axis and resulting evasive postures can also result in pelvic and lower back pain in the long term. You fatigue faster because the leg force is not optimally transferred through the foot to the pedal. The pressure is distributed poorly, because the pedal is too small and the surface is too smooth. A painful consequence is discomfort in the soles of your feet.
What can you do about it?
But you don’t have to let it come to that. There are pedals that were specifically designed to prevent this problem from occurring or to largely prevent it. Pedals that are shaped to mimic the natural shape of the foot and soles. They are characterised by the fact that the foot can be intuitively positioned in an ergonomic way. What helps here, for example, is an inner guide rail (inner stop) which favours the correct foot alignment, as well as a concave surface, which must be non-slip. This gives you the necessary grip for reliable and safe power transmission, even in wet conditions. In addition, the grippy surface prevents undesired movements the ride and keeps the foot in the correct position, even without being fixed in place.
Biking safely, even with everyday shoes
Standard pedals usually only have a small contact surface and this can result in unpleasant pressure points when riding with casual or everyday shoes. A larger contact surface ensures better pressure distribution and is more pleasant on the foot. That is why it is important to have a good contact surface. Don’t worry if you have bigger feet –ergonomic bike pedals come in different sizes. All you need for a relaxed, painless and safe ride.
And speaking of safety: Not only are reflectors required for good visibility in the dark, but all of the other requirements of the German Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO) must also be met. Modern pedals are made from fibre composites these days, but must still have sufficient breakage resistance.
What matters when it comes to healthy cycling?
However, an ergonomic pedal alone does not guarantee cycling that is gentle on your back. Ultimately all of the components, such as the bicycle grips, saddle and pedals must be coordinated and correctly adjusted. We are talking about the ergonomic triangle of bicycle adjustment here. We’ll tell you what to look out for in these components on the following AGR web pages: