Building a Better Cycling Posture

Here’s an article that was published in the January 2012 edition of the Capital Bicycle Club newsletter. -APR

Recently, I listened to an excellent podcast by Victor Jimenez of Bicycle Lab.  He was interviewing Peter Park and Dr. Eric Goodman, two people who I have developed a bit of a fascination with in terms of holistic back care.  In 2011, they published a book called Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence.  It was written to introduce people to new concepts in core conditioning/training, and to create a new framework for thinking about how our bodies function.  From my perspective as a care provider, here are some of the main things that I took away from the interview that may be of interest to you, as well:

First of all, they make the point that most of us have faulty movement habits when it comes to using our core.  Instead of moving through the hip joints and keeping the spine stable, we tend to move through the lower back joints.  This overloads the joints, discs, ligaments, and

muscles that support the spine, and over tim
elop from years of sitting and other activities that encourage rounding and slumping forward.  From a cyclist’s perspective, rounding the lower back when you’re riding causes significant stress on the lower back by compressing the discs and stretching the ligaments of the spinal joints.  Add into the equation pushing down on pedals, and the stress on the joints jumps up exponentially.  One of the goals of getting comfortable on your bike is by finding a position that maintains as near neutral as possible.e, can lead to injuries.  These habits dev

During this interview, the authors also note that the “Core” is not where most people think it is.  Unfortunately, magazine articles and dated thinking is still influencing exercise techniques.  Many people still do sit ups in an effort to strengthen the core, without realizing that th

ey are doing very little towards that goal.  In the authors’ eyes, the core is the collection of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up the posterior chain, namely, the back, hips, and hamstrings.  The exercises they have developed and borrowed from pilates, yoga, and other disciplines all include a focus on these areas.

Lastly, they addressed a topic that comes up quite frequently in my office.  It is that people become frustrated that they can’t hold an upright posture for very long before becoming tired and slumping again.  In the interview, they spoke of the concept of “effortless posture.”  Once we address strength and flexibility in the muscles that maintain our posture, we can naturally stand and sit for longer.  When it comes to cycling that means that we might get in that extra hour or so on the bike and not have it lead to lower back pain, shoulder pain, hand pain, etc.  Many riders I know aren’t limited by their fitness, but by their comfort on the bike.

Hear the Podcast: http://bicyclelab.com/interview-peter-park-and-eric-goodman/

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