Correct Cycling Posture

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.

Proper bike posture helps protect your body. (Image: GibsonPictures/E+/GettyImages)

Proper Bike Posture

Maintaining the correct cycling posture can make all the difference when it comes to how you feel after riding a great distance. Cleveland Clinic recommends pulling your stomach toward your lower back, extending your torso and keeping the chest somewhat lifted while cycling. During relaxed parts of the ride, they suggest keeping your chin tucked and your neck stretched.

The United States Olympic Committee asserts that proper bike posture entails more than simply sitting up straight. There should be little pressure on the hands, and the upper torso should be angled slightly forward. Moreover, your positioning should feel comfortable and fluid. The pelvis should be neutral, legs moving up and down from the hip joint, and the knees flexing and extending.

Shoulders should be down and shoulder blades flat on the back. To help with this position, you can imagine shifting your elbows toward your knees and gently pulling on your handlebars, as if you're trying to break them in half. Angle your eyes, instead of your head, upward, so as not to strain the neck.

Get the Right Bike Fit

Just as important as having the right posture is having the correct bike fit. It will help you avoid cycling injuries in the future and make you an overall better cyclist. Try out several different bikes to find the fit that's right for you. Get the seat height, handlebar, cleats and pedal alignment adjusted to most comfortably fit your body.

Note that using an ill-fitted bike can lead to pain in the back, hips, shoulders, neck and upper extremities, so make sure to see a bike specialist or visit a local bike shop to get the proper fitting.

Cycling Posture Exercises

Improper posture and overuse are two factors that contribute to cycling injuries. To avoid these injuries, Brookhaven National Laboratory recommends a number of exercises and stretches for the neck and upper back, lower back and lower extremities. Exercises include:

  • Cervical extension isometric: Lying on your stomach with your face at floor level, place your arms by your sides with your palms facing down. Raise your head off the ground and tuck your chin in toward your chest. At the same time lift your arms off the floor and pinch your shoulder blades together. Repeat 10 times.
  • Upper trap stretch: Reaching your right hand over your head, lightly pull your left ear toward your right shoulder and hold for about 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Doorway stretch: Place both your forearms on either side of a door-frame. Take a step through the doorway with one foot and lean forward gradually. This will stretch the pectoral muscles.
  • Hamstring stretches: The hamstring stretch can be helpful to those with lower back pain who are experiencing difficulty leaning forward. Lie on your back and raise your leg up. Keep the knee straight. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Quad stretch: Standing straight, lift one leg up with your hand and pull it toward the buttocks. Make sure to keep the opposite leg straight and don't lean forward. Switch legs.
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