It may seem obvious that a biker should keep their body position balanced and relaxed during cycling, but in fact, many people forget about it or are even unaware that it really matters a lot.
If you already have a professional bike and gear and you still experience pain while cycling, not sticking to the right position is usually one of the most common reasons for it. As simple as it sounds, reminding yourself to relax your shoulders on a long ride or during a huge effort can do wonders for your neck and the whole body.
Continue reading to learn more about keeping the right cycling posture!
What Are the Results of Bad Cycling Posture?
First, let’s take a look at the most common problems related to incorrect cycling posture. Some of them are as follows:
Upper Back and Neck Pain
If you stay in a mostly static and unnatural position for a long time, you are very likely to experience neck pain. Our bodies are built in such a way that they need a lot of movement so that the joints and muscles are properly lubricated.
For this reason, prolonged and excessive hyperextension can lead to excess strain on one or multiple joints, as well as muscle spasms. In this way, our bodies struggle to protect and support the weight of the head.
Pain can also be associated with putting too much weight through the upper body resulting from improper bicycle setup – for example, placing your handlebars too low can really hurt your neck. It can even radiate down into the thoracic spine.
Sitting in the wrong position for a long time can lead to your anterior muscles (such as the shoulders and hips) getting too tight. On the other hand, other muscle groups can become too overstretched, which decreases their functional movement. All of this can have a huge negative impact on the power output and power transfer.
For instance, ineffectively working and quickly fatiguing hamstrings or gluteal make the load move to the lower back. In this way, your body tries to overcompensate and use muscles for purposes they are not made for. Such impaired neurological motor control patterns result in ineffective and compensatory movements.
How Can I Keep the Right Cycling Posture?
Now that you know how harmful the influence of the wrong cycling posture can be, let’s learn how to keep it right. Here are some tips that may come in handy:
Set the Handlebar Height Correctly
Your handlebars play a great role in building your bicycle’s overall fit. Even if you move them just a little up, down, back, or forward, it can completely change the efficiency of your bike.
If all-day comfort matters to you more than the highest speed, you should take a more upright position to decrease weight and arm strain. In order to achieve that, try setting your handlebars in their stock position. If your neck or shoulders are in pain after cycling, go for a shorter stem.
Optimize Your Hand Position
There are three most common hand positions used for cycling effectively, and it’s significant to use the right one at a certain moment:
- Tops. Using your tops is the most recommended when you’re leading a group, riding on your own, or climbing a hill. It makes it possible for you to take a more upright stance and breathe in more deeply. What’s more, you have a clearer view of the road, you can pedal more intensely, and you feel overall more comfortable on your bike.
- Hoods. This position should be used most of the time you’re cycling, but it’s especially useful when you’re riding a flat surface and maintaining a steady cadence. It helps you to relax and save energy, at the same time allowing easy access to your brakes or shifters when you need them.
- Drops. This position is the most aggressive, and it’s perfect for descending down hills as it allows you to lower your center of gravity. It helps you to naturally shift your weight back and “drop” into a more aerodynamic stance with maximized output and minimized input.
Adjust Your Core
In order to support your back better and keep it from collapsing, you need to keep a certain degree of stiffness in your core. It will provide your legs with a solid base to push off from.
They are connected to your torso through the hip flexors, and they need to push and pull on the pedals together with the contraction of your core muscles in the front and back of your body.
Keep in mind that if you break the kinetic chain (the combination of muscle activities aimed at making certain movements), it can lead to force waste and reduce the efficiency and comfort of your cycling.
Keep the Right Pedal Foot Position
To keep your foot in a proper position, you should adjust your shoe cleats correctly. The ball of your foot needs to be placed over the pedal spindle to lower the injury risk and boost efficiency.
If you cycle in the wrong position, it can lead to your leg getting an unnatural twist, which raises the danger of knee damage and reduces performance. When the cleats are placed too far forward on the shoe, you may experience Achilles pain as a result of excessive ankle movement.
The cleat needs to be set in such a way that the foot is squarely in line with the motion direction and not splayed out.
Even though your aim while cycling is usually to produce the force necessary to ride fast, too much tension can have a negative effect on your body. You need to be able to adapt to given circumstances and stay loose, so try to remind yourself throughout the ride to relax your shoulders and move them down, away from your ears.
What’s more, you should relax your elbows so that they can serve as your natural shock absorbers. Relax your face, unclench your jaw, and loosen the grip, using only as much muscle as necessary. These practices will help you avoid wasting energy and causing discomfort to your body.
The Final Note
As you can see, keeping the right cycling posture can strongly affect how you feel during and after your ride. On top of that, it can affect your efficiency, so remembering all the adjustments will also help you save energy and be able to cycle longer.
For instance, you should adjust your hand position to certain circumstances, so do not keep them in the same position during your whole ride. It will let certain muscles rest when they are not necessary and activate those that should be used in a particular situation.
Apply our tips next time you go cycling and enjoy your ride to the fullest!