By Patricia Staszak, PT
Continued from Part One…
After your bike is fit properly, it is important to learn the proper posture to assume when you are on the bike. Cycling posture varies depending on the type of bike that is used. There are basically three type of bikes and therefore three different postures that are assumed.
The first position is the racing position. As you notice from the picture above, the cyclist has a lower orientation. This is a very aerodynamic position and encourages the rider to pedal.
The next position is for a cyclist who spends more time on the bike touring. It a less aerodynamic position, but allows for less weight on the cockpit. The rider is still forward enough that the position allows the rider to direct power through the pedals.
The last position has the cyclist at 60-90 degrees in a seated position and is more for a leisurely ride. There is less stress through the upper body, but in this position it is also much more difficult to generate force. This position is used for what is known as a “comfort bike.”
Now that you have determined what type of bike you will be riding and therefore the position that you will assume on the bike, we should review the basic principles of bike posture. The posture detailed below is more typical of one that would be used for a racing or touring bike.
First, the low back should be in slight flexion (more rounded than neutral). If you ride with your low back arched (in extension), it may place too much stress through the joints in your low back. Your chest should be open so your neck does not have to hyper-extend when you look forward, and there should be about 30 degrees of bend in your elbows to assist in absorbing the shock through your arms. To avoid excessive stress on your joints or nerve impingement, your wrists should be held so they are in line with your forearms.
Riding technique is just as important as posture. The pedal stroke should occur through the entire 360 degree range of motion of the crank arm. Each foot pushes down on the pedal, but also steps over and sweeps through to assist with a full circular stroke. The knees should move up and down when you pedal, not in and out. Also, your butt should be stable on the seat, you should not rock from side to side.
A cyclist will avoid overuse injuries the way all athletes do – by staying strong and flexible and using good mechanics. Good core strength will support your body while you are on the bike and will assist in absorbing shock from the bumps in the road.