Aaaah, the wind in your face, that feeling when you crest a hill you never thought would end, the numbness in your hands, the ache in your back…. Cycling can be an amazing and fulfilling experience good for your mind and body when your system is firing on all cylinders. It’s unfortunately all too common for a cylinder to misfire and when this happens helping to identify the true source of the problem isn’t always so straightforward.
Cycling bliss requires four things:
- A bike that fits you well, ideally fitted to you by a bike fitting professional.
- A healthy body with strong core strength and moderate flexibility
- Proper riding posture which allows you to maintain a neutral spine and engaged core
- Contact points (pedals, saddle, and handlebars) that are well suited to the rider and that encourage good posture.
If you are having comfort issues on your bike and have the luxury of seeing a reputable local bike fit professional, whatever they charge is easily worth it. A good bike fitter can help save you time and money and can likely get you rolling again much faster than you would be able to trying to diagnose your issues on your own.
If you don’t have that luxury, however, you may want to check in with your riding posture as it’s the most common bike fit issue we see with our clients. Poor riding posture can lead to back pain, shoulder, wrist, and neck discomfort, hand numbness, and a loss of power. Your mom always told you to sit straight, why aren’t you listening to her? Good cycling posture means sitting with your spine neutral, not hunched over like many cyclists do and this all starts with a forward rotation of the hips.
Take a moment and visualize how you would posture your back if you were going to lift a heavy object from a few inches in front of your toes. Would you round your back and hunch your shoulders? No, you would bend at the knees and at the hips and use your low back muscles to protect your spine and to keep it straight. Many people ride with poor posture because they’ve never been taught a healthy way to ride and others ride with poor posture because their bike seat is just too uncomfortable to ride with a forward rolled pelvis. Check out saddles like the Specialized Power and Ergon SR Pro, these are some of our favorites and work wonders for posture.
Off the bike, you can do a number of things to improve your posture.
Start with body awareness. When you sit at your desk, in your car, or on the train, focus on your posture. It is a lot easier to sit with good posture when you are not simultaneously trying to ride a bike so get comfortable with tuning into your posture under more basic circumstances.
Tune your core strength up. Yoga or pilates fundamentally will help build the strength and flexibility required to sit with good posture. If you don’t have time for these classes try an online class, that’s better than nothing.
A few basic exercises can easily be done at home by even the busiest of people and these will help to build some of the flexibility and awareness requires to sit with good posture.
Ultimately, being comfortable and enjoying your bike can be challenging for some. If you’ve tried some of the suggestions above and are still struggling with pain or discomfort then definitely seek the help of a pro. Visit the International Bike Fit Institute for a list of professionally trained bike fitters.
Thanks for the tips, Jonathan! Now that we’re comfortable, let’s get moving for children’s rights. Log ten hours in the 2020 Children’s Rights Challenge on Strava by October 23, 2020, and earn the chance to receive a FREE virtual bike fit from the world-class pros at ACME.
Starting tomorrow, October 10, 2020, teams of friends, families, celebrity supporters, and co-workers will come together to launch the 2020 CHILDREN’S RIGHTS CHALLENGE, a two-week national fitness challenge hosted on the fitness app Strava. For each hour of fitness (cycling, running, walking, swimming, yoga, etc.) logged on Strava, we will raise funds for Children’s Rights.
An integral part of our fall #1Nation4Children campaign, our goal is to collectively log 500,000 hours of fitness to represent the nearly half a million kids in foster care in the United States. To reach our goal we will need 50,000 participants to log 10 hours of fitness for over 2 weeks.
Help us log 500,000 hours of activity to help raise awareness and funds to fight structural biases, racism, and generational poverty for children.
*Please note you can participate using the free version of Strava. You do not have to upgrade to participate.