Saddle height effects on pedal forces, joint mechanical work and kinematics of cyclists and triathletes Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The effects of saddle height on pedal forces and joint kinetics (e.g. mechanical work) are unclear. Therefore, we assessed the effects of saddle height on pedal forces, joint mechanical work and kinematics in 12 cyclists and 12 triathletes. Four sub-maximal 2-min cycling trials (3.4 W/kg and 90 rpm) were conducted using preferred, low and high saddle heights (±10° knee flexion at 6 o'clock crank position from the individual preferred height) and an advocated optimal saddle height (25° knee flexion at 6 o'clock crank position). Right pedal forces and lower limb kinematics were compared using effect sizes (ES). Increases in saddle height (5% of preferred height, ES=4.6) resulted in large increases in index of effectiveness (7%, ES=1.2) at the optimal compared to the preferred saddle height for cyclists. Greater knee (11-15%, ES=1.6) and smaller hip (6-8%, ES=1.7) angles were observed at the low (cyclists and triathletes) and preferred (triathletes only) saddle heights compared to high and optimal saddle heights. Smaller hip angle (5%, ES=1.0) and greater hip range of motion (9%, ES=1.0) were observed at the preferred saddle height for triathletes compared to cyclists. Changes in saddle height up to 5% of preferred saddle height for cyclists and 7% for triathletes affected hip and knee angles but not joint mechanical work. Cyclists and triathletes would opt for saddle heights <5 and <7%, respectively, within a range of their existing saddle height.

publication date

  • 2014