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  1. #1
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    Healthiest posture

    Assuming zero preexisting back problems, what would be the healthiest cycling posture to maximize back AND knee health in the long-run? Is upright posture of European / classic roadster bike better than bent over road bike posture? Why? I'm guessing that an upright posture allows for better spine neutrality, but I'm not sure. Are there any legitimate studies on the subject (as opposed to uneducated opinions)?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Here is an interesting article about neutral spine that I could find
    Eat Sleep Train Smart - The Fitness & Cycling Research Blog: Correct Cycling Posture: The Spine

  3. #3
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    In other words, what type of bike would you chose if you only cared about your long-term health and not so much about performance.

  4. #4
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    You can have a very forward-leaning torso while still having a neutral spine, if you bend at the hips instead of rounding your back. Flexibility helps but most of us can learn to do this to some degree.

    Anyway, it is not as simple as which riding position gives you a "neutral spine".

    A very upright position, even with a neutral spine, places all your weight on your pelvis (crotch or butt, depending on saddle type/angle). That can be uncomfortable or worse. Also, hitting a big bump with your spine vertical and butt planted firmly on saddle results in shock going into your spine.

    As your torso leans forward, more weight is on your hands and arms. Pressure on your crotch is reduced (again, depending on saddle type/angle). Sometimes this is too much hand pressure, for long rides.

    If you are pedaling vigorously, your legs actually support your weight as much as your pelvis does - your crotch/butt are kind of floating on the saddle.

    If your torso is leaned forward, and you are pedaling vigorously, then you can take weight off your hands by positioning your pelvis rearward (usually means sliding your saddle rearward).

    If you are leaning forward, your gluteus muscle (butt) is in a more powerful position and your hamstrings are more stretched (good for flexibility).

    But if you are leaning too far forward, your neck starts to get strained.

    Everyone will have an individual range of positions that are ideal. You have to balance all of those thing plus I'm sure others that I don't know.

    My personal comfort zone is torso at 45 degrees or less from horizontal, saddle pretty far back, and bending at the hip.
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    Thank you very much for such a great answer! It is very helpful!

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    drop bars do offer a Quadruped like use of your arms .. though then people have neck problems
    from tilting their head up. all the time

    have you considered a Recumbent type bicycle?

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    I read that recumbent bikes are only good for people with pre-existing back problems.

  8. #8
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Recumbents are not just for people with physical limitations.

    They have various pros and cons, relative to conventional bikes.

    In my opinion, a recumbent is worth trying out.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    You can have a very forward-leaning torso while still having a neutral spine, if you bend at the hips instead of rounding your back. Flexibility helps but most of us can learn to do this to some degree.

    ... saddle pretty far back, and bending at the hip.
    Agree. Some call this tilting the pelvis back (actually, you are bringing the top of the pelvis forward and maintaining a straight spine)
    Basically you are doing a squat, with your upper body far forward. You should feel like the force your legs is putting on the pedals is preventing your upper body from falling.
    I am riding 175 miles so kids with cancer can go to summer camp for free. You can help:
    http://www.chailifeline.org/events/Bike4Chai/my/kak

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I read that recumbent bikes are only good for people with pre-existing back problems.
    your reading list needs to be expanded a lot , then..

    perhaps to include someone that actually likes them ..

    Near zero effort ?, try writing here http://www.bikeforums.net/recumbent/
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-27-14 at 02:39 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I try to stick my butt out in order to keep my back straight but it's a conscious effort not to hunch over. I don't ever achieve it but I try
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    I'm pretty certain the standard racing setup is the most comfortable and health-promoting position. Professional cyclists ride for hours every day and this wouldn't be possible if they were uncomfortable. It's counterintuitive to think that extreme aero position is comfortable but it is if you're reasonably skinny and healthy. The upright dutch-bike posture might be okay for flat urban areas but it sucks everywhere else.

    Every newbie wants to second-guess the perfect setup but it's all a waste of time. Professional cyclists have done it all for you. The only reason a newbie can't do the same thing the pros do is because they're: 1. Too fat 2. Too weak.
    Last edited by Clem von Jones; 04-05-14 at 07:47 PM.

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    There is more to a decent bike fit than being "extremely aero." If I lower my bar more than 6 cm below the saddle my power output drops considerably. (And at 6'2" and 160 lbs., I don't think I'm "fat!") Of course, I'm not "extremely aero" in that position -- but I'm not upright, either -- but being aero doesn't do me much good going up a 4 mile, 1,600 ft. climb, so I'll take a position that allows me to pedal at full power vs. being "extremely aero."

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pakossa View Post
    There is more to a decent bike fit than being "extremely aero." If I lower my bar more than 6 cm below the saddle my power output drops considerably. (And at 6'2" and 160 lbs., I don't think I'm "fat!") Of course, I'm not "extremely aero" in that position -- but I'm not upright, either -- but being aero doesn't do me much good going up a 4 mile, 1,600 ft. climb, so I'll take a position that allows me to pedal at full power vs. being "extremely aero."
    I'm just trying to dispel the notion that a higher posture is more comfortable than a lower.

  15. #15
    Junior Member guacamully's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
    I'm pretty certain the standard racing setup is the most comfortable and health-promoting position. Professional cyclists ride for hours every day and this wouldn't be possible if they were uncomfortable. It's counterintuitive to think that extreme aero position is comfortable but it is if you're reasonably skinny and healthy. The upright dutch-bike posture might be okay for flat urban areas but it sucks everywhere else.

    Every newbie wants to second-guess the perfect setup but it's all a waste of time. Professional cyclists have done it all for you. The only reason a newbie can't do the same thing the pros do is because they're: 1. Too fat 2. Too weak.
    So what is the standard racing setup?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I try to stick my butt out in order to keep my back straight but it's a conscious effort not to hunch over. I don't ever achieve it but I try
    I try to set up my bikes for the position recommended in the blog. I find that moving my saddle back enhances my ability to keep pelvis and lower spine in the suggested alignment without a lot of conscious effort. I try to get my center of gravity over the BB with my torso and arms also in the target position. My torso is then comfortable at 45 degrees or less above horizontal if I have a long enough stem. With that my whole upper body reaches forward. This in turn raises the neck and lowers the shoulders, and makes it easier to keep my head up to see. Also makes it easier to look behind me without wiping out.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamully View Post
    So what is the standard racing setup?
    This website lists critical measurements of specific race bikes under the heading Pro Bike. You can search for riders who are about your height and compare setups. Yes these professional cyclists are crazy thin, athletic, flexible, and strong. Pro Bike: Mark Renshaw?s Specialized S-Works Venge | Cyclingnews.com

    Former pro turned old guy Greg Lemond http://cdn.mos.bikeradar.com/images/...ood-670-75.jpg

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post

    My personal comfort zone is torso at 45 degrees or less from horizontal, saddle pretty far back, and bending at the hip.
    Me, too.

    Stellar post BTW!!

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