I’m sure you’ve watched professional cyclists and noticed how they ride their bikes so fluidly, as though it was an extension of their bodies. These cyclists can ride so gracefully because they maintain proper cycling posture.
However, good posture is not just for the professional riders nor is it only to make you look good on the bike. Maintaining correct posture helps prevent injuries and makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable riding experience.
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What’s the Correct Cycling Posture?
As humans, we’re all built differently, so there’s no single position right for every person. Still, some generalities apply to every individual, and they include:
- Slightly bent elbows
- Neutral spine
- Relaxed shoulders
- Aligned knees and feet
Slightly Bent Elbows
Make sure to keep your elbows to the sides with a slight bend. The bend serves as a form of suspension, partly absorbing shocks from bumps in the road.
Bent elbows also relax your shoulders and take off stress from your hands and wrists.
Most beginners make the mistake of riding with their backs curved out, like a small hill. However, this can cause problems over time, so keep your back as neutral as possible, neither curving outward or inward.
A neutral back also keeps your hips from tilting too far forward or pushing out backward.
The best way to ensure that your spine is in a neutral position is to engage the muscle groups in your core for support. An excellent way to engage your core is to think of pulling in your navel.
Ride with your shoulders in a relaxed position and away from your ears.
Raised shoulders put undue strain on your shoulder muscles and cause back and neck pain. Besides, raised shoulders will get in the way when you try to look behind.
Do not tilt your head too far back to create an odd angle as you ride. Instead, angle your eyes upward to see the road and keep your head in line with your neutral back.
Aligned Knees and Feet
Make sure you have the ball of your feet aligned with the pedal spindle on your road bike or mountain bike.
Additionally, have your knee in line with your foot as you pedal and never bent out, but pointing straight ahead. Bent out knees can cause knee pains.
In addition to the above, the United States Olympic committee recommends the following when riding:
- Little or no pressure in the hands
- A neutral pelvis
- Neutral hand position with no tension in the arms
- Pull slightly on the handlebars
- A straightened out neck to prevent upper body pains
4 Tips on Maintaining Proper Cycling Posture
It’s one thing to know the right riding position; it’s yet another to maintain it while cycling. Here are some things to remember so that you can keep the right riding position even on long rides on your road bike.
1. Get a bike fit
The first step to maintaining the correct posture is to get a professional bike fit. Proper handlebar reach, saddle/seat height, cleat, and seat position for the right pedal stroke can significantly increase riding comfort and avoid injury.
Also, the bike fit changes over time because your body changes too. Once you feel the bike fit is a little off, get it adjusted as soon as possible.
2. Become stronger
A major cause of poor cycling posture is weak muscles. Even if your bike fits and you start off in the right position, you will find that your back becomes rounded as you ride, your head falls, and your knees and feet get out of sync, as your muscles aren’t strong enough to maintain the position.
You don’t need to strengthen the quadriceps and lower back muscles, as you use them frequently, so they will be strong enough. Instead, focus on your abdomen and glutes, as they help to support your weight and keep your back neutral on the bike.
The following are some core strengthening exercises you can try:
- Abdominal crunch
- Side plank
- Modified plank
3. Improve your flexibility
A good level of flexibility allows your body to remain in position while you pedal your road bike.
Regular stretching helps to increase overall flexibility by realigning the muscles after movements. Stretching also eliminates soreness causing lactic acid in the muscles.
Some stretches suitable for cyclists include:
- Doorway stretch
- Upper strap stretch
- Downward facing dog
- Camel pose
- Quad stretch
- Expanded leg pose
4. Watch yourself
Old habits die hard. As such, you need to evaluate your riding position regularly.
Start by noting where there’s tension, then reposition your body if need be. If you notice your bike’s fit or seat height is causing you discomfort, adjust them accordingly.
The Importance of Proper Cycling Posture
The importance of proper cycling position, especially on longer rides, include:
- Improved efficiency
- Easier breathing
- Better bike handling and graceful riding
The right riding posture lets you assume a streamlined position that reduces drag, allowing you to go faster. It also channels energy properly so that you can increase your cycling speed with little effort.
Since you have better control of the bike and expend less energy to reach greater speeds, you will also breathe easier.
How you sit in the saddle and your arms’ position determine how soon your hands and thighs become sore. In the right position, you can ride long distances and feel only slight discomfort.
Better Bike Handling
Good riding posture engages multiple muscles, including those in the abdomen and legs, giving you improved balance and better control of the bike, among other things.
Better handling also equals graceful riding. Additionally, the way you place your hands on the handlebars and how you sit on the bike affects how you look while riding.
One of the greatest importance of maintaining a good riding posture is that it prevents the risk of bodily harm and pain to the cyclist, as the body is in the correct position. Also, better control reduces the risk of road bike injuries while cycling.
Maintaining the right cycling position can prevent accidents, increase efficiency, makes breathing easier, and give better control of the bike.
There is no true proper cycling posture, as people have different body types and riding styles. All the same, some generalities such as bent elbows, relaxed shoulders, and a neutral spine apply to every body type.
Maintaining the correct riding position involves strengthening the core muscles better to support the cyclist’s weight and improved flexibility. A proper bike fit from professionals in bike shops and regular evaluation of your riding position are crucial factors.