Improve your cycling performance with better posture25 July, 2013 0 comments
Improve your cycling performance with better posture
Good posture has effects far beyond what is visible to the eye. The way you hold your body influences both internal processes and the way in which your body is able to move and perform.
But how will your cycling benefit from correct posture? There are a number of ways. Firstly, it will give you better control over your bike through stability. Also, it helps to avoid injury from overuse that often strikes cyclists. What is most important for many of you, it will make your results better by providing greater endurance, higher speed and better pedaling strength. Finally, you’ll be able to enjoy your rides more, as you’ll experience less discomfort throughout your workouts. Therefore, it definitely makes sense to think about the way you hold your body – it may be a starting point to feeling good and achieving more.
Here are some basic things you should know if you want to start improving your cycling performance with adjustments to your posture.
Start with your posture off the bicycle
Your cycling workout is only one part of your day, but your body will be influenced by its position 24 hours a day, every day. Therefore, if you’re not doing so already, you should remind yourself about maintaining good posture every once in a while, whether you’re on the bike or not. This will prepare you physically and mentally, and also make you more aware of the way you hold your body – these benefits extend to the time you’re on the bike.
If you have a desk job, make sure you’re not slouching behind it. Instead, try to flatten out your back and relax your shoulders. Your workstation should be set up in a manner that allows you to sit in a good position. Additionally, get up at least once every hour and do a little stretching to avoid tensions building up. As you move about throughout the day, keep your shoulders back, your chest out, and eyes looking straight ahead. Stretching routines and Pilates or Yoga practice are great ways to become more aware of your posture and make good body form a natural part of your life.
Your bike is an extension of your body – make it fit
Now, as you get on your bike, its shape and set up will influence the way you position your body. Therefore, it is important that your bike fits you well. When you shop for a new bike, it is good to ask advice for getting the right sized frame. When you set up your bike, make sure your saddle height is right – your feet should be very slightly bent when the pedals are in the lowest position. The height of your handlebar depends on your preference and aims – racers usually have it a couple of inches below saddle height, while tourers often have it level with the saddle. The important thing is that you feel that the setup of the bike allows you to transform your energy into efficient movement.
Your physical fitness influences your position
To be able to comfortably maintain a good cycling position, you need to have structural strength. Therefore, it becomes important to train your core for keeping your body stabile, and to add stretching into your workouts to improve flexibility. This will help you perform more efficiently, and do so for a longer time.
Your posture should depend on your riding style
When there is a change of terrain, or when you suddenly need to make a hard effort, your body will position itself differently to meet the demands. Now, as you become more aware of your body position, you should also notice how in fact you have different positions on the bike – and make sure you are always being efficient.
- Riding on a smooth road - You should be sitting in the middle or towards the back of your saddle, with your hands on top of the handlebars in a firm grip. The elbows should be slightly bent and not in a locked position, your shoulders relaxed but not hunched. As you ride, your gaze should be aimed forward, and not down the road. This will keep away tensions and reduce risk of injury, while maintaining efficiency.
- Climbing a hill – You should be sitting at the back of your saddle, with your hands at the top of the handlebar, allowing your chest to open for deeper breaths.
- Riding down a hill – You should sit at the middle of the saddle or position yourself just above it, with your hands in the drops. Additionally, you can hold your pedals in parallel position for better aerodynamics.
- Cornering – Similarly to when you’re descending, you should be seated at the middle of the saddle or hover slightly above it, with your hands in the drops. This low position will help to maintain stability on your bike and make it easier to control its movements.
- The aero position – This position is good to use when riding in packs, in windy conditions, or when in need to increase speed. You should sit towards the front of the saddle, and keep your hands in the drops.
Use the power of aerodynamics
Think about this – over 90% of the wind drag experienced on a bike will be caused by your body. Therefore it is important to make sure you are as aerodynamic as possible. Imagine that you are looking at yourself from the front – your arms and feet should always constitute a vertical line, without any bends or wobbling to the sides.
Remember that everyone is an individual
You need to feel comfortable in the position you use on the bike, so make sure you take the characteristics of your own body into account. For example, it may be more difficult to maintain a very low position for taller riders, and thus their most efficient posture is usually a little higher than that of shorter riders. And as Steve Hogg, a renowned bike fit specialist has said, he has never seen a symmetrical cyclist. Make sure your position fits you!