Top 3 Injuries Due to Poor Saddle Choice

Before and After Bike Fit and Saddle Change

Before and After Bike Fit and Saddle Change to ISM Adamo

Being a bike fit studio with a sports medicine background, we see our fair share of poorly fit bikes. More often than not, we find that along with a poor fit, cyclists are sitting on a saddle that is not ideal for their particular anatomy, posture, and range of motion deficits.  We have found that what may work for one individual can be disastrous for another.  Much like a fingerprint, each cyclist brings to the bike a unique pedal stroke, anatomy, and list of previous injuries that can all affect how he/she sits on a saddle.

Looking at the saddle pressure data above, you will notice that a change in saddle resulted in a much more stable pelvis with no high pressure points, symmetrical pressure on the saddle, and more loading on the pubic rami due to better pelvic positioning. Listed below are the top 3 injuries we see in our office due to poor saddle choice.

 Saddle Pressure

1.  Low Back Pain.

Keep in mind, the lumbar spine is connected to the pelvis so where the pelvis goes, the lumbar spine follows.  Therefore, low back pain can be caused by two dysfunctional movements of the pelvis on the saddle:  too much side to side movement whipping the spine or the pelvis posteriorly tilted excessively, thus rounding the back.

Ideally, the pelvic rami and the front portion of our sit bones are anchored on the saddle.  When saddles are too narrow, the sit bones can fall off the edge causing side to side movement of the pelvis.

The shape of the saddle can cause some cyclists discomfort in the soft tissue area.  In order to avoid compression on the soft tissues, the cyclist will rock his/her pelvis backwards, thus rounding the back.  Hard efforts or climbing will increase force on the pedal, however, with the low back rounded, the core is not in position to stabilize the spine from the equal and opposite reaction of the pedal pushing back up into the cyclist.  Repetitive flexion of the lumbar spine will cause fatigue and eventually pain in the surrounding musculature and spine.

2.  Anterior Knee Pain.

Knee Pain Cycling

Just like the back, a posteriorly tilted pelvis can cause knee pain.  When the pelvis rocks backwards, the cylist can develop quadricep dominance and glute inhibition during the pedal stroke.  Overuse of the quad can pull on the patella tendon either creating patellar tendinitis/osis or bursitis.  Combine this with an alignment issue of the patella (due to any number of things), the patella may become depressed awkwardly into the groove of the femur resulting in Patellofemoral pain.   Ideally, the cyclists should be able to rock their pelvis forward, engaging the glute muscles.  However, this position is compromised when the soft tissue area is compressed due to a poor choice in saddle.

3.  Numb Hands or Neck Pain.

Bike Fit Angles

Once again a posteriorly tilted pelvis can be the culprit of pain on the bike.  Since the spine is unable to remain in a neutral position due to the cyclist sitting straight up on their sit bones, the back rounds into a C-curve, bringing the trunk AWAY from the handle bars and setting up the neck to look more down than forward as well as causing the scapulae(shoulder blades) to rotate forward on the ribcage.  With the scapulae winged out and forward and the neck cranking up to see the road, muscles such as the Trapezius become overworked, fatigued, and tight.  Furthermore, if the pedaling action isn’t holding the cyclist up because they are unable to maintain neutral spine, the arms will lock out causing undue pressure of the hands on the handlebars.  Artery and nerves can also become entrapped in the axilla (armpit) from the protracted (forward) scapula position.

Many shops and fit studios offer a risk-free saddle testing program giving you the opportunity to try out saddles before you buy.  At Press Play Performance Labs, we use saddle pressure analysis to find the right fit and saddle for each individual to help narrow down the saddle options before he/she takes them out for a test ride.  This gives us the most scientific process to determine which saddle may be the right fit for an individual.

Press Play Performance Lab offers saddle pressure analysis and comprehensive, science-backed bike fits. To schedule an appointment, click here.

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Brick Class This Saturday!

Indoor Computrainer Cycling Classes


The weather is looking a bit iffy this Saturday. Perhaps we are finally getting our winter.  In light of possible windy and chilly conditions this Saturday, we’d like to continue celebrating our Grand Opening of the Press Play Performance Lab Studio with a FREE Brick session.


Structured and coached indoor bike workout with power and cadence (on our computrainers) using your FTP or perceived effort followed by a local run either on Ohlone Greenway or the Bay Trail.   Bagels and coffee to follow.

When:   Saturday, April 25th at 9:00.  Hard start at 9:10.

Where:  Press Play Performance Lab at 2009 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley.  INSIDE Berkeley Crossfit (upstairs.)

What to bring:

  • Bike
  • Bike shoes and tri shorts
  • Water bottles with nutrition
  • Run gear (shoes, hat, socks, iPod, etc.)

Workouts:   We will design the bike workout for at least 1.5 hours with the option of going 2 hours.  The run can be whatever time your training schedule dictates.  We will wait at the office for you to return with bagels, coffee, and high-fives!   Yoga mats are available for a post-brick stretch!

LIMITED AVAILABILITY!  10 participants max.  Please be kind to your fellow athletes… if you can’t make it after you’ve signed up, please cancel through your login here to open it up for those on the waitlist.

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Free Week

Indoor Cycling Class

Copyright © 2015 Jessica Greaux Photography

Free Indoor Cycling all this week!

New to Indoor Cycling?  Try for free this week and learn the benefits of using Computrainers during training.

Why Indoor Cycling:

  • Indoor Cycling Coached Workouts

    Copyright © 2015 Jessica Greaux Photography

    Makes the most use of your limited training time.  Classes early morning and late evening during poor visibility hours.

  • Structured workouts to bring you more power and increase your lactate threshold.
  • Our training programs are created by certified USA Cycling and Triathlon coaches.
  • Certified USA Cycling and Triathlon Coaches on staff.
  • Fun, motivating, social environment.
  • Allows you to adhere to your training program when weather is undesirable.
  • Boom, boom, boom – Great music to get you pumped!
  • For all levels.  Ride at your own power and abilities.  No waiting and no dropping!
  • Organic coffee next door (Coming soon…our own Espresso and drip coffee.)


  • Bike (wipe rear tire and remove glass.  Pump up rear tire.)
  • Shorts/Bib
  • Water bottles with your choice of electrolytes, filled
  • Nutrition
  • 2 gym towels
  • Extra Skewer (we have some to loan for this first week)
  • Your enthusiasm!

Sign up here for this week’s classes.    Guaranteed to get your sweat on!

Are you a coach or part of a triathlon/cycling team and would like to utilize the studio for special workouts?  Contact Dr. Jess at  if interested.

Indoor Cycling Computrainer Class

Copyright © 2015 Jessica Greaux Photography


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How To Become A Fat-Burning Machine (And Why You Should)

We are excited to have Christopher Kelly join us as a guest writer on our blog.  We asked Christopher some questions about metabolic efficiency and energy sources for endurance athletes.  He’s written a great article in response…this is part 1 of 2.    We would love to hear your experiences and questions so feel free to comment below.

How To Become A Fat-Burning Machine (And Why You Should)

by Christopher Kelly

It’s 60 minutes into your training. You’re getting lightheaded, dizzy. Good thing you brought those gel packs. Reaching for that sugar-laden gut bomb, you squeeze the oozing gel into your mouth. Sickeningly sweet. But, you get a rush of glucose. You’re able to finish your training, but there’s got to be a better way to fuel. You know it’s not healthy. Just because you’re an endurance athlete, are you doomed to investing in a lifelong supply of Energy Gels?


No matter how long you’ve been training and fueling your races on carbohydrates, you can still shift from being a sugar-burner to becoming a fat-burning machine. Here’s what you can do about it. It’s simple in theory, but it does take time to adapt. You’re an endurance athlete: nothing is as hard as spending your weekends on long rides, runs or swims, not even changing your fuel source.



  • What is metabolic efficiency?



Efficiency is the amount of energy produced by a given amount of oxygen and food consumed. Being metabolically efficient means that you are able to easily convert the food you eat and the air you breathe into energy via the Citric Acid Cycle (CAC). This cycle does require several micronutrients to make the conversion from food and oxygen into usable energy (ATP):


Citric Acid

Citric Acid


The list of micronutrient dependant steps in the CAC are:

  • Carnitine
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3
  • Lipoate (Alpha Lipoic Acid)
  • Cysteine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Molybdenum
  • CoQ10


When everything is working well, your energy in equals your energy out. You always have the energy you need from the food you just consumed (the fed state), or energy that you have stored (fasted state). This allows you to get in a good workout, handle stress at work and manage matters at home. The problem arises when one or more of these micronutrients are missing. This disrupts the flow of energy, just like an accident on a busy expressway. Even though one or two cars are the only ones involved in the accident, they disrupt the flow of traffic for thousands of other cars on the same highway. A urine sample collected at home for organic acids analysis makes it possible to measure the flow of traffic and therefore, metabolic efficiency.


Where do these micronutrients come from? Some can be synthesized internally, but a majority of them must come from your food. Nutrient density is the key to becoming metabolically efficient and having the ability to generate more energy. It’s also the key to becoming fat-adapted. When you begin to consume a variety of nutrient-dense fats in your diets from sources like grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, salmon, you are giving your body the micronutrients it needs to become metabolically efficient.




  • Why is becoming fat-adapted advantageous for the everyday person and for endurance athletes?



Becoming fat-adapted makes you bonk-proof! The average person has the following energy storage capacity:

  • 120g of glycogen in the liver (~480 kCal)
  • 350g of glycogen in the muscles (~1,400 kCal)
  • 11,800g of fat in adipose tissue (~100,000 kCal)




Picture a gas tanker, the type that delivers gas to a gas station. The tanker has a small tank that it uses like any other vehicle, and in theory it could run out just like any other vehicle. The irony is the large tank containing the payload for the gas station could still be full. In this analogy, the gas in the small tank that fuels the tanker is glycogen, the storage form of glucose (sugar). The large payload tank is fat stored in adipose tissue. Becoming fat-adapted then is like modifying the gas tanker so that it can use all of the fuel on board. The range of the vehicle is almost without limits.


As the name suggests, hormone-sensitive lipase is an enzyme whose function is inhibited by the hormone insulin. In order to get access to the fat stored in adipose tissue, insulin must be kept low. Your body releases insulin in response to consuming sugar. What’s the first thing that everybody does before starting a race? Shut down fat-burning by consuming a sugary gel!  As anyone who has tried to consume more than 400 kCal of sugar per hour will tell you, there’s a hard upper limit on what your body can absorb.


Glycolytic pathways (that convert glucose into energy) produce more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than beta-oxidation (converting fat into energy). ROS are unstable molecules looking for another from which to steal an electron and so become stable. If the electron donated comes from the membrane that forms some part of a cell, then that cell could become dysfunctional and may even die. ROS are unavoidable and in some ways essential, but in excess cause harm. Simply stated, if you rely heavily on excessive carbs for fuel, you could be missing out on the benefits of fat adaptation, like anti-aging, steady energy and stable blood sugar levels.


When sugar is used as fuel, you will notice that your blood sugar levels tend to fluctuate, rather than remaining steady after meals. Have you ever felt a surge of energy after eating a high carbohydrate meal or felt sluggish after eating a heaping plate of carbs? Have you ever felt dizzy during the day? Or hungry enough to eat the person next to you? That’s low blood sugar. We assume that these symptoms of low blood sugar are normal, but they don’t need to be your normal.


After eating a meal comprised of nutrient-dense meat, fat and vegetables, you should feel a steady flow of energy. This is a result of fat adaptation. No, it doesn’t mean you will never eat starchy carbs again, but it does mean you are not reliant on carbs to feel energized. I do typically recommend eating a serving of starchy vegetables or carbs with your evening meal when the small glycogen tanks are more likely to be empty.


Fat should be your primary fuel source—not sugar—because fat gives you a steadier supply of energy. When your cells can produce energy with something other than glucose at the time of low blood sugar, you never have symptoms.



  • Why is it important to continue consuming quality carbohydrate sources for endurance athletes while working on becoming fat-adapted?



Transitioning to a fat-adapted state is stressful to your body, similar to when you overreach in your training to become a better athlete. Your body is comprised of trillions of cells, and when those cells suddenly have their main source of energy removed—sugar—you’re going to experience symptoms. You wouldn’t attempt a marathon or a century ride straight off the couch, nor should you attempt to ditch all carbohydrates.


You can ease the transition by first removing the refined carbohydrates, like sugar, from your diet outside of training. Added sugar is everywhere, hidden in almost every bar, drink or snack inside a package. You’ll need to become a label reader if you want to continue eating packaged foods, but the easiest way to make the switch is to just eat real food! A good starting point if you are new to the process is the Whole30 plan, as it provides you with a variety of nourishing foods to choose from without feeling deprived of your old favorite munchies or sweet treats.


Once you get rid of all the refined carbohydrates in your diet, you can start experimenting with other protocols based on your level of training, your goals, your current health status and your lab results. This is also a great time to see a functional medicine practitioner, who can help you tailor your program.


Still unsure how you to move forward with all the blood sugar issues because you’ve already tried low carb? Ready to take action on becoming fat-adapted today? Let me help you. Book a free appointment, and we’ll find the reason why you are struggling to become fat-adapted. You’ll soon be able to train better, have more energy and feel steadily fueled during the day without needing to reach for that gel pack at minute 60.

10376827_10101536238587415_4362363094297904401_nChristopher Kelly is a computer scientist, pro mountain biker, certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and graduate of the Kalish Institute. His wife is a food scientist, and together with Dr. Jamie Busch they run the functional medicine practice Nourish Balance Thrive.


Nourish Balance Thrive offers to athletes a holistic system that integrates the latest in modern scientific testing with age-old natural health solutions for weight loss, fatigue, depression, digestive problems and hormone imbalances. Through the implementation of simple lifestyle changes and the use of individualized, lab-based supplement programs, you will achieve your unique solution for optimal health.

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The Long and Short of Crank Arm Length


The Long and Short of Crank Arm Length

By Ryan Moore

Recently, there have been very few things in the bike fitting world that have gotten me as excited as the topic of crank arm length. The antiquated anecdotes from 20 years ago and older have been steadily chipped away the past few years with numerous studies and their findings.


Ah leverage, yes. The question of leverage is the most common thing that comes up when I am speaking to one of my athletes or bike fit clients about the benefit of  switching to a shorter crank. There are several studies that address leverage. However some of the testing protocols are flawed; not adjusting saddle height and setback for the different crank length etc. Furthermore, there are several variables that make it difficult to test accurately.  For instance, the new position with shorter cranks can ‘feel’ slower initially because the neuromuscular system needs time to adapt. I believe that with crank length there is a place for the need for leverage, however, it should never be at the expense of putting the riders’ body in a place of constant repetitive collisions with his or hers mobility restrictions. (And increase cadence and efficiency due to shorter crank arm means one can increase resistance which means one can go faster!)

Hip Mobility

One of the most important goals of any bike fit is to place the rider in the most neutral position possible. This means making certain that nothing about the riding position or any of the movements required to cycle are going to put the rider in a compromised position. Avoiding restrictions and asymmetries is the best way to accomplish this. The hips are the cornerstone of movement on the bike. We hinge from them to reach the handlebars. We also need the hips to be able to tolerate enough flexion to get around the top of the pedal stroke. Restricted hip flexion can be the hardest road block in getting someone comfortable and efficient on the bike and unfortunately is one of the most common dysfunctions I see with riders. This, paired with too long of a crank or even a ‘standard’ length causes a cascade of negative effects on the bike such as a rocking in the pelvis to allow room for the restricted hip to move.  Thus causing low back pain, knee pain, or sitbone pain to name a few. Additionally it can cause the knee to track outside the foot and hip due to hip mobility issues.  A crank that is too long (with reduced hip range of motion) can increase the chance of injury, compromise the riders ability to maintain a neutral posture and increase the ‘dead spot’, making it much more labored the get over the top of the stroke.

GP Manager

170 Cranks

GP Manager

165 Cranks same cyclist


Bike Fit: Handlebar Drop and Gluteus Recruitment

When we are able to take a cyclist of average height with moderate flexibility and hip function from a 175mm crank to a 170mm, a few things need to happen. First we need to replicate knee extension angle and knee forward of foot (or knee over pedal spindle) in the same zone as the original longer crank arm set-up. This is done simply by raising the saddle and moving it back. In this case we’d start with +5mm with the saddle height and -5mm with the setback as the rider is now ‘spinning a smaller circle’. This is generally just a formula to get the rider into a good starting point, and is best done by a professional in a bike fitting setting. After proper adjustments this will place the knee angle and knee-over-foot in the same place but with a much more open hip angle allowing freedom of movement. Now we can play around with affording the rider more handlebar drop which can take weight off the hands, and also allow the rider a lower torso angle to provide more gluteus power. Even if there are some imbalances in the pelvis, a more open hip angle will make the asymmetry less detrimental.


In Closing

Everyone’s body has different needs and requirements, but one of the most effective ways to optimize your position on the bike is trying shorter cranks. Getting fitted on an adjustable fit bike can be a great way to feel the differences for yourself while getting objective data with biofeedback measurements. As an initial skeptic, I incrementally went down in crank size from 175mm, 172.5 to 170mm with large improvements in comfort and power along each step. I am 6’2 with good hip mobility, shorter cranks don’t have to be for only those with range of motion issues, anyone can gain benefits of an adjustment such as this. Below, I recommend suggested resources for learning more.  I’d love to hear your questions and comments about bike fitting and/or crank arm lengths.

Ryan Moore is well known in the Bay Area and Northern California as an accomplished bike fitter and cycling coach. He is an aspiring CAT1 road racer and elite cyclocross racer.




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Bay Area Bike Fit Services Now in Danville, CA

bike fit-7

Now TWO LOCATIONS for Bike Fits!

Press Play Lab is pleased to announce we are bringing our state-of-the-art bike fits to Danville, CA.   We are joining an already stellar team at Pegasus Bicycle Works in downtown Danville.



Bike Fitter:  Mitchell Reiss

When:  Every Friday

Where:  Pegasus Bicycle Works

Scheduling:  click here.  Or call 510-883-1126


forces inefficent



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Bike to Run Transition Clinic

Dynamic Measurements

TT fitting

This Wed, February 11th at 7PM, we will present the last clinic of our Cycling Science Seminar Series.   We dedicated this last clinic to triathletes wishing to avoid losing time during the bike to run transition.

During the clinic you will learn:

  • factors that influence the run-off-the-bike transition
  • bike fit and how it affects the runner
  • running mechanics after cycling
  • what you can do to make it less painful
  • stretches and exercises to help with the transition
  • equipment necessities for a quick transition
  • tips and tricks in T2

RSVP through Eventbrite.  All proceeds go to a local charity getting kids on bikes.  Please spread the word and share with friends!

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