Regardless of whether you use your bike to train for a race, out for a family ride, as a form of cardio exercise or as a mode of transportation to work, having the proper posture while cycling is important in preventing injury. There are basically two causes of improper posture. Either the bike is not right for you, or you are not using the right bike correctly.
Bikes come in different frame sizes. Your body frame determines which bike frame is right for you. For example, if you can’t reach the handlebars without fully extending your arms, you may need a smaller bike frame or a shorter handlebar stem. A seat that is not adjusted to the correct height can cause knee pain. Improper posture usually causes pain in the arms/hands, back, neck or knees.
Arms and Hands
When riding, arms should have a slight bend in them. This not only prevents fatigue during a ride, but also serves as a shock absorber so jarring doesn’t transmit up your arms and into the rest of your body. Also how you grip the handlebars is important. If you constantly grip them too tight, your hands may start to get numb. All you need it enough pressure to maintain control and still be able to reach the brake levers.
To prevent back problems from riding, be sure to keep your back as straight as possible. This does not mean setting up straight as you would if sitting at a desk, but instead, keeping your hips to your shoulders in a mostly straight line. Engage the abdominal muscles to help keep the straight-line form.
To prevent neck problems keep your head up as part of the straight-line form from your hips to your shoulders. By allowing your head to drop, you are putting excessive strain on the base of the neck.
When riding, the knees go through the continuous repetitive motion of going up and down. Because of this motion, it is important to have them at the correct position. When at the top of the pedal rotation, the leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle with the knee directly over the pedal. At the bottom of the rotation, the leg should still have 20 to 30 degrees before it is fully extended.
Correct form should include the knees pointing straight forward and parallel with each other. Most improper knee form can be adjusted by selecting the correct seat height and angle.
Riding bike can be fun or it can be a pain (no pun intended). By matching your bike to you and riding it properly, you can enjoy years of safe riding. If unsure of how to match a bike to you, see your local bike shop.