Welcome to Pedal Science, the weekly bike fitting blog by Nick Thomas of The Endurance Coach. This week we look at the subject of HOLDING POSTURE and cycling performance.
Achieving the correct bike fit with the rider adopting the most efficient position during a bike fit is all well and good but this is irrelevant if the person can’t maintain the same position when riding the bike in the real world.
The majority of cyclists we deal with have no idea how to sit correctly on the bike. An important part of the bike fitting process is therefore correcting posture but the most important thing is explaining how to maintain the correct position when riding. It’s much easier to adjust your position with continual feedback from someone standing next to you but how do you ensure you’re maintaining the same position without any help? Conveniently there are several checks the cyclist can carry out when riding alone:
- Pelvic tilt and reach:
Many road cyclists ride with a slumped position which results in the pelvis being posteriorly rotated and the hands struggling to reach the handlebars. The result is the following:
Excessive tension throughout the back
Inadequate weight distribution through the upper body
Ineffective use of core postural muscles
Reduced efficiency and power
When the cyclist achieves the correct position with a more extended posture (and more anteriorly rotated pelvis) the centre of the front wheel is partially or fully obscured by the handlebars.
Check no. 1:
The centre of the wheel should be obscured by the handlebars
Check no. 2:
Your hands should be rested into the hoods, not creeping back towards the bend in the bars
If either of these reference points is not achieved your posture is deteriorating. You’ll be surprised how often it slips and how focused you need to be to ensure you maintain the right position.
- Knee tracking:
The knee should track directly up and down over the foot when cycling with minimal deviation in (adduction) or out (abduction) from this direct line of travel. Adducted knees are often due to inadequate hip stability (e.g. ineffective glutes) and abducted knees can be a compensation for inadequate hip mobility at the top of the pedal stroke, tight glutes. Often it’s because the person simply doesn’t realise how the knees should track and the once aware the fault is instantly corrected.
Check no. 3:
Look down and watch the knees as you pedal: if there is deviation aim to reduce it to the same amount of deviation achieved during the bike fit.
Riding posture affects comfort and efficiency so must be an integral part of any bike fit and a good bike set up is only effective if the cyclist maintains the correct position when riding the bike. By regularly completing the above checks the cyclist can maintain the correct posture and ride with greater comfort and efficiency.
Nick Thomas is the resident bike fitter at The Endurance Coach. He is a fully qualified bike fitter and expert in lower limb mechanics, holding a BSc (Hons) in podiatry. You can contact him using the email address: email@example.com or see more about his fitting services by GOING HERE.