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Is Your Cycling Posture Correct?

Three years ago, I inherited a solid road bike from my dad. I'm pretty into it now. I usually bike 50 - 100 km on the weekends, but as that number has crept up, I've run into some some fit issues. Maybe you can help me out with some conceptual stuff.

Last year, as my rides got longer, I started to get some knee pain. I realized after looking into it a little bit, that, duh, I'd never really been fit for the bike properly. 

So, I went to my local bike shop and had a fitting. They made some changes to my shoes, to my saddle, to my bars - to everything - and the knee pain has gone away almost completely.

However, I still have two issues that plague me on longer rides - neck pain and hand pain/numbness.

 

What do you do if you face similar issues? 


Cycling posture and centre of gravity is important when it comes to cycling. 

Maintaining the correct cycling posture shouldn't be taken for granted. In fact, the proper bike posture, along with getting the right bike fit and doing cycling posture exercises, can help you fully benefit from the positive effects of cycling and avoid serious injury.


Cycling posture
When you ride, you should aim to maintain your body's centre of gravity over the bike. Especially when you're applying more power or climbing, you may find you tend to sway from side to side. This will waste unnecessary energy! 

Riding with a balanced and relaxed body position may seem like a basic skill for a road cyclist, but it is something that even experienced riders struggle with and can cause frustration for beginner roadies. After getting a professional bike fit, proper body position is usually the next thing we look at when diagnosing pain while riding. It may sound simple, but reminding yourself to relax your shoulders while out on a long ride or hard effort could save you from nasty neck pain the following day.

Below are some tips to achieving good posture while riding, courtesy of Liv: 


Cycling proper posture
  1. Relax your shoulders and bring them down, away from your ears. If you have been pushing hard on a climb, you may notice those shoulders stiffen and start to creep up again.
  2. Lowering your shoulders away from your ears will free up your head, making it easier to turn and look for traffic and actually helps you stay more alert!
  3. Bend your elbows! Just like on a mountain bike, riding with relaxed, bent elbows allows your arms to act like suspension. If you hit a pot hole or bump in the road, your arms can help you absorb impact. Unlike mountain bike body position, your elbows should be tucked into your sides instead of out wide like wings. Keeping your elbows bent will also reduce strain in your shoulders and allow you to ride with less pressure in your hands.
  4. There should not, however, be a bend in your wrists. Maintain a straight line from your elbow through your fingers on the brakes. If this is hard, it might be a bike setup issue you should discuss brake lever and hood position with your professional bike fitter.
  5. Maintain a neutral spine. What does that mean? Well, it’s kind of like yoga. If you are familiar with the Cat and Cow positions in yoga, either of those positions while in the saddle could cause pain down below and inefficiency on the bike. Your back should be relaxed, keeping a fairly straight line between your hips and your shoulders. The best way to check this position while you are riding is to ask yourself: Is my core engaged? If your abdominal muscles are taking a break while cycling, it could result in a slouched riding position that could put pressure on your hands, shoulders or parts of your crotch (eek)!
  6. Make sure your knee is tracking over the ball of your foot/pedal. If your knees are bowing out to the side when you ride, it may look a little funny and it will definitely cause inefficiency and pain.
 

My Hands are Going Numb When I Ride, Why? 

I realised my hands were going numb during longer rides.

Upon inquiry, I was told that I was putting too much weight forward. The people at Bikelah said I was probably putting a ton of weight on my hands when I ride, and they were absolutely right. I mean, when I ride, I feel like I'm basically holding myself up with my handlebars - like I'm falling forward and they're keeping me up.

He said I should raise my bars up until my center of gravity moves back to the point where it's really my core/lower back that's holding me in place, and my hands are mostly just to guide and steer... He said it would eliminate my neck and hand discomfort, and he seemed like a guy who knew what he was talking about.

It makes sense, conceptually, but no one has ever said anything to me like that before. In doing some tests with this, it seems like I may have to lift my handlebars a ridiculous amount to achieve this kind of shift back.

 

We hear this all the time on group rides. You stop to take a sip of water, and your hands are numb. Why? Although this could be a bike fit issue, if you have determined the reach on your bike is acceptable, it may be a problem with your body position. Generally, your fingers and hands will go numb because they are not getting proper blood flow/circulation.

So, check to make sure you are riding with relaxed, slightly bent elbows. Riding with your arms straight places a lot of weight in your hands and on your handlebars. Check your wrist alignment. If there is a bend in your wrist, this could prevent proper blood circulation in your hand. Engage your core! Reminding your abs to do a little work will definitely take some pressure off your hands! 


If you've struggled with this or have some insight, we would love to hear from you.