Cycling with Low Saddle Height is Related to Increased Knee Adduction Moments in Healthy Recreational Cyclists

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European Journal of Sport Science






Bicycle saddle height configurations have been shown to affect knee joint biomechanics. Research suggests that an excessively low saddle height may lead to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, which is thought to be caused by the knee adduction moment during cycling. However, how saddle heights affect frontal plane knee biomechanics was not clear. We aimed to compare different saddle heights on frontal plane knee biomechanics during cycling. Twenty healthy young recreational cyclists (23.4 ± 0.5 years) performed 3 min of cycling at four different saddle heights (Medium [25° knee flexion angle], Preferred [a height chosen by cyclists], Low [Preferred + 15°], High [Preferred - 15°] measured at the bottom-dead-center). Cycling workload and cadence were set at 60 w and 60 RPM, respectively, since our project was focused on rehabilitation. A motion analysis system and a custom instrumented pedal were used to collect three-dimensional kinematics d (200 Hz) and pedal reaction force (1000 Hz). Results showed that, compared with other saddle heights, Low saddle height produced greater adduction knee moments (11.9 ± 1.9 Nm, P < 0.05), a longer duration (0.15 ± 0.01 s, P < 0.05), larger knee flexion (58.5 ± 2.6°, P < 0.05) and larger abduction angles (−4.5 ± 0.8°, P < 0.05). We showed that Low saddle height resulted in increased knee adduction moments with longer duration. In contrast, High saddle height reduced both knee moments and time duration. The results suggest that increased saddle heights may provide a safe and efficient cycling strategy for healthy young recreational cyclists.