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Am I doomed to numbness?

Old 09-27-23, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
Fundamentally, I believe that the posture used by competitive road cyclists must, in fact, be bad for one's back. It sure doesn't look like yoga. I'm curious to hear what others may have to say about this.
Riding a bike in a competitive or athletic manner demands a modicum of flexibility, core strength, and upper body strength, but does little to develop these strengths. Obviously, if one is not inclined to maintain this kind of fitness, riding a bike in this manner is not a good idea.

Regardless of how you want to tilt your upper body, maintaining a straight spine is important. Many riders, mostly men, I've observed, appear to need to curve their spines at the pelvis, shoulder, or both. I don't understand why.
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Old 09-27-23, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
Regardless of how you want to tilt your upper body, maintaining a straight spine is important. Many riders, mostly men, I've observed, appear to need to curve their spines at the pelvis, shoulder, or both. I don't understand why.
I've been researching and experimenting with the flat back thing in the months that have passed since making the comment that you quoted above. My current understanding is that the notion of an aerodynamic "flat back" is something of misnomer, as described in this article: Link. What competitive cyclists call a flat back seems to really be just a flatter back. The forward pelvic tilt gives the rider a head start in terms of levelling out the torso coming off of the saddle but some curvature of the spine above the pelvis is still required. So, even for the very fit and competitive, the flat back position would still tend to be taxing on the back to some degree.

My experimentation with flatback riding has been quite successful and I owe the community here a great debt for pointing me in that direction.

The benefits that I've accrued:

1) More aerodynamic, obviously.

2) Greater comfort in my neck and shoulders.

3) Significant power increases which seem to be result of greater glute recruitment, just like everyone claimed would be the case.

4) Less weight on my hands.

Out of the gate, I've had three problems with the flat back position and all seem to be diminishing with time as I adapt:

a) More taxing on my lower back. I think that this is just a matter of conditioning.

b) A little friction related saddle pain. I think this is just because new parts of my posterior are now the contact points and they will need to adjust. Or I'll need to tweak the saddle.

c) My cardiovascular fitness seems a little out of whack relative to my newfound power. I've got some new short burst watt generating capability which is fun. I tire out on it very quickly however.

I agree with the notion that cycling itself doesn't seem to be enough to condition one to flat back riding. There are quire a few instructional videos kicking around meant to address exactly this issue.

One anoying problem that flat back has caused me is that my bikes no longer seem to fit as well. It seems that I'll need more reach if I want to ride flat back, either by way of larger frames, longer stems, bars with longer reach, or some combination of all of those.

Last edited by Harold74; 09-27-23 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 09-27-23, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
I've been researching and experimenting with the flat back thing in the months that have passed since making the comment that you quoted above. My current understanding is that the notion of an aerodynamic "flat back" is something of misnomer, as described in this article: Link. What competitive cyclists call a flat back seems to really be just a flatter back. The forward pelvic tilt gives the rider a head start in terms of levelling out the torso coming off of the saddle but some curvature of the spine above the pelvis is still required.
Quite true. But there are humps, a la Lance Armstrong and Mike Sinyard, and there are profiles of beauty, exemplified by Ercole Baldini, Roger DeVlaeminck, Laurent Fignon, and Greg LeMond. The idea is iron out the kinks that tend to form at either end.
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Old 10-23-23, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by tallbikeman
My Urologist called it prostatitus because of all the bleeding, pain, and difficulty urinating. This was due to bruising in the perineum area. It really didn't necessarily involve the prostate gland itself. Doctors commonly have a non doctor term for conditions and a technical term for the same condition so I guess that is what this may be. Also they checked my bladder with an endoscope for cancer so the doctor was searching around for causes of the blood. Seeing no cancer he queried me about bicycle riding and more specifically what type of seats I rode. That is when he told me to not ride nosed bicycle saddles again. I'm glad he did because it eventually led to a much better designed seat that can't cause damage to your perineum area and is very comfortable. Only took six decades for me to learn that.
Soooooo ... TELL! What noseless saddle(s) have worked this magic for you? Also, what is the drop from saddle top to bar top, which works for you? I look a lot at my SADDLE setback, which I measure from a plumb line to the BB to the widest portion of the saddle.

At least with the saddles I use (Brooks Pro, Ideale 80, Ideal 90, and Selle Anatomica) I have been ok with the noses those have. When I did get numbness my saddles were set too high. I had a lot of hip rock, which lead to perineal abrasion and chafing. I "edged" the saddle down to eliminate that source of pain, but I still had some numbness. I was also sliding forward. I then raised the nose incrementally until my butt stayed in place without using my abdominals to keep me in place.

But my hand pressure was now significant since those changes eliminated more prominent sources of pain. I thought back to how my early pre-Raleigh 3-speed worked after I put on drop bars - I would negotiate bumps by lifting my hands and butt off the saddle and coming right back down when the road smoothed out, without noticing the need to scooch forward and backward to settle my sitbones. Early-1950's Raleighs, had seat tube angles very laid back, from 68-ish degrees in the late 1940s, to 70 degrees on my recently bought 1952 Rudge club-style bike bought a few years ago, enough to reduce the feeling of impact but still be able to prevent the bars from spinning out.

I don't have problems with my back bending, so far at least, but I hope to ride enough in the season to come to know for sure.

Last edited by Road Fan; 10-23-23 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 10-23-23, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
Riding a bike in a competitive or athletic manner demands a modicum of flexibility, core strength, and upper body strength, but does little to develop these strengths. Obviously, if one is not inclined to maintain this kind of fitness, riding a bike in this manner is not a good idea.

Regardless of how you want to tilt your upper body, maintaining a straight spine is important. Many riders, mostly men, I've observed, appear to need to curve their spines at the pelvis, shoulder, or both. I don't understand why.
Who told you that maintaining a flat back is important for cycling posture?
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Old 10-23-23, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Soooooo ... TELL! What noseless saddle(s) have worked this magic for you? Also, what is the drop from saddle top to bar top, which works for you? I look a lot at my SADDLE setback, which I measure from a plumb line to the BB to the widest portion of the saddle.

At least with the saddles I use (Brooks Pro, Ideale 80, Ideal 90, and Selle Anatomica) I have been ok with the noses those have.
Hi Road Fan, I'm glad to hear that you are not having problems with nosed saddles. I didn't have problems until suddenly after decades of riding them, I did. The saddle that has been a revelation to me is the Spiderflex saddle made in Canada. I had ignored it at first and tried several different brands of noseless saddles. In desperation due to sitz bone/skin issues I tried one. This saddle has small rectangular openings right where the sitz bones are on the saddle. This has the effect of lowering the lbs per square inch on the skin under the sitz bones. This totally solved saddle sores I had been getting for decades. No special lubricant, or underwear. Just ride in your everyday clothes until you get tired. The saddle openings also somewhat trap your sitz bones and the saddle rides much more like a nosed saddle. Noseless saddles without this feature would slip around and took some getting used to. I don't use saddle setback on my bikes and have about 10" of height to the top of the saddle from top bar top.
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Old 10-24-23, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Who told you that maintaining a flat back is important for cycling posture?
I didn't say flat back. I said straighten the spine. And working with a straight spine is good practice for just about any activity--lifting, skiing, sitting, standing, swimming, . . .

But if you must know, I first heard of riding with a flat back from Bill Farrell, the coach who conceived of the Fit Kit almost 40 years ago. Most beginning cyclists reach for the handlebar by bending at the waist and shoulders, and it really doesn't matter what kind of bike they're riding. The tendency to slouch is universal. But the more kinks you can get out of your spinal column, the better you're going to feel during the ride and after.

As a beginner I noticed that some days I couldn't get comfortable on my bike. The handlebar seemed too far away and I felt out of breath. Those were the days I hopped on and bent from my waist instead of the pelvis.

Last edited by oldbobcat; 10-24-23 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 10-24-23, 02:21 PM
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A humped back can make it harder on the neck if riding very aero and low. The straighter the back, the less the neck has to be craned upward to see ahead. Perhaps there are other things too. But this is the biggie for me straightening my back while riding. But it's something I have to keep reminding myself about as I'll often find my neck craning up to see and my shoulders and back humped up.

But when I remember to straighten it out, then thing are easier on my neck instantly. I see some pro riders with humped backs riding grand tours. So apparently it's not necessarily a issue for everyone. Or else they as do I, find it hard to hold that straight back all the time.
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Old 10-24-23, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
I didn't say flat back. I said straighten the spine. And working with a straight spine is good practice for just about any activity--lifting, skiing, sitting, standing, swimming, . . .

But if you must know, I first heard of riding with a flat back from Bill Farrell, the coach who conceived of the Fit Kit almost 40 years ago. Most beginning cyclists reach for the handlebar by bending at the waist and shoulders, and it really doesn't matter what kind of bike they're riding. The tendency to slouch is universal. But the more kinks you can get out of your spinal column, the better you're going to feel during the ride and after.

As a beginner I noticed that some days I couldn't get comfortable on my bike. The handlebar seemed too far away and I felt out of breath. Those were the days I hopped on and bent from my waist instead of the pelvis.
The back is long thing, and men generally bend at the lower back. Trying to force the bend into the hips is not a good thing.

Upper back? Sure, don't hunch.
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Old 10-24-23, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
The back is long thing, and men generally bend at the lower back. Trying to force the bend into the hips is not a good thing.

Upper back? Sure, don't hunch.
You're either trolling me or you just can't visualize t it. You bend at the hips when you sit on your butt in a chair. You bend at the hips when you do squats at the gym. You bend at the hips when you make like a Japanese businessman and bow instead of shaking hands.
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Old 10-24-23, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
You're either trolling me or you just can't visualize t it. You bend at the hips when you sit on your butt in a chair. You bend at the hips when you do squats at the gym. You bend at the hips when you make like a Japanese businessman and bow instead of shaking hands.
I'm the bike fitter with a saddle business. Perhaps you're trolling me?

Watch a man and a women touch their toes from the side. Women bend primarily at the hips. Men bend both at the hips and a significant amount above the pelvis. Men roll their hips forward less than women on the bike because they bend at the waist.

You can fight that, but it is the natural way we bend, and allows hamstrings to support the upper body on the bike.
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Old 10-24-23, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
I'm the bike fitter with a saddle business. Perhaps you're trolling me?

Watch a man and a women touch their toes from the side. Women bend primarily at the hips. Men bend both at the hips and a significant amount above the pelvis. Men roll their hips forward less than women on the bike because they bend at the waist.

You can fight that, but it is the natural way we bend, and allows hamstrings to support the upper body on the bike.
Men tend to have tighter hamstrings.
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Old 10-24-23, 08:38 PM
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Rolling hips forward comes naturally to me, but then I've had more than a little physical therapy due to compression of my L4/L5 disc.
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Old 10-25-23, 03:19 AM
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Iíve been riding for a long time, and numbness has always been an issue. But not enough to keep me off my bike. I find a well broken-in B17 and ordinary (not cycling) shorts are fine for 100km rides. To tame the numbness, I get out of the saddle every few minutes to allow some circulation, and this helps a lot. I donít wait until I start feeling numb before I get out of the saddle, Iíll simply get out of the saddle every 5 minutes or so. A riding position with a little more weight on my hands puts a little less weight on my backside.
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Old 10-30-23, 12:40 PM
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I have gotten some numbness in the past and I have tried a few saddles, but the best advice is a micro-adjust seatpost.

Iím using a Suntour XC Pro on my road bike; although there are others out there.

Once you find a saddle that seems to be the best, and the fore/aft is where you want it, then (at least for me) it is just a matter of dialing in the tilt.

Being able to make slight adjustments on a ride seems to be the best way to approach in real time.

John
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Old 10-30-23, 01:10 PM
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It's been over 2 months since the OP has posted to his thread. I wonder if he ever came up with an answer.
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Old 10-30-23, 03:29 PM
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I often stand up in the saddle to provide a break for my butt. Only downside is more air drag but for me it is worth it.

If the saddle position is off it can result in more weight on places with nerves and I have often needed to adjust the fore-aft tilt of the saddle to fix this (tilting down more at the front).
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Old 11-13-23, 05:39 PM
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It may be a good idea to consult a sports physician. Depending on what they observe with your posture and bicycle, they may either simply suggest a few useful changes or may go as far as to recommend an MRI to see if there are some degenerative changes in your various vertebrae, causing or exacerbating your problems.
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