Cycling Head to Toe
Running had always been my go-to form of exercise, until about 3 years ago when I bought my first road bike. Cycling has similar benefits as running does for me: it’s a stress buster, an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, a way to enjoy the outdoors and I love that I can do it from my own front door. After the positive feedback from my Running Head to Toe Blog, I decided to do a Cycling Head to Toe write up! So after you have got your biked properly sized for you, try these suggestions on your next ride:
Head and neck: aim to keep your chin tucked and avoid hyperextending your cervical spine (but keep your gaze on the road ahead!).
Shoulders: relax those shoulders and avoid shrugging them up by yours ears.
Elbows: try your best to keep them slightly bent and soft as your elbows are the primary shock absorbers.
Wrists/hands: avoid overextending your wrist as excessive time in an extended position can lead to nerve compression. As best as you can, keep your wrist neutral (ie. the back of the hand should be straight in line with where your watch would rest). Be sure to also keep your hands relaxed and avoid excessive grip tension.
Trunk and core: try to keep your torso neutral at about 45 degrees to your hips. Your low back should not be excessively arched or flexed and your midback should not be overly rounded or hunched. Good stability in the trunk and core allows us to produce force on the pedals and offloads the weight on your arms and hands, so be sure you are doing your core stability exercises before or after your ride!
Hips: don’t forget to engage your glutes for power! Keep your low back neutral and keep your hips behind your ankles to ensure you are engaging your hip extensors
Knees: remember to activate your hamstrings by “pulling” up the heel to the bum; oftentimes we overuse our quads (by “pushing” down on the pedals), which can lead to knee problems later on. Be sure you have your seat properly adjusted so that you don’t hyperextend your knee at the bottom of your pedal.
Ankles and feet: keep your weight on the ball of the foot (rather than pushing through your toes) as this position optimizes glute activation
I hope that the above alignment tips will improve your efficiency and prevent injury. Reflecting on this piece, I see how important being mindful of body position and tension is, stay relaxed as best you can and enjoy the ride! And of course, comment below and let me know how it goes!
Registered Physiotherapist and Kinesiologist