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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Riding Posture

Old 02-18-09, 04:44 AM
  #1  
Theodore
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Riding Posture

I have read some people say to sit on your bike with your hips rolled forward and not like you are sitting at a barstool and leaning on the bar. How does one roll the hips forward? I cannot picture this.
I have had a problem with me lower back and I can stay for an hour on me trainer without no back pain but put me on the road and there is an upgrade and I develop pain in the lower back. Therefore this must be due to am improper riding posture.

ted
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Old 02-18-09, 04:59 AM
  #2  
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Belly button to top tube I believe is what you are supposed to aim for. You'll never reach it, but if you feel like you are trying then you are on the path to riding righteousness.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:20 AM
  #3  
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it helps to have shorter cranks as your legs won't have to go as high.
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Old 02-18-09, 06:29 AM
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I try to roll my hips forward, but I get this same climbing pain, too. I THINK its based on too much stress per pedal stroke, in other words I'm mashing when I should be spinning. Once it starts I can finish a ride by more deliberately shifting to easier gears.
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Old 02-18-09, 08:03 AM
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Work on your core esp your abs
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Old 02-18-09, 08:29 AM
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riding with your hips rolled forward is for riding in the drops of a road bike.

That's for an aero psotion, not a climbing position.

when you are on a grade, you need to sit up, put your hands on the tops, "sit like a barstool" is not a bad approximation, and get your hamstrings and lower back in a good position to work.

you have different riding positions on flat roads than on grades
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Old 02-18-09, 09:42 AM
  #7  
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I would take that rolling your hips idea with a grain of salt. Not everybody's back and pelvic anatomy is the same. It's kind of the same thing as suggesting you should have a flat back as opposed to an arched one. I feel a lot better arched, personally.

With the back pain you describe, I wonder if you're not trying to sit too far back. Have you tried having your saddle higher and bit more forward. The only time in my life I ever had back pain after riding was a few days about 10 years ago when I got carried away after reading some advice about pushing the saddle all the way back on its rails.
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Old 02-18-09, 10:48 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by saba View Post
Work on your core esp your abs
+1. Many posture problems are due to poor core strength. Road bikes with the handlebars lower than the saddle are designed to be ridden with your hips forward. You are going to have a hard time being comfortable riding one with an upright back.
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Old 02-18-09, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
+1. Many posture problems are due to poor core strength. Road bikes with the handlebars lower than the saddle are designed to be ridden with your hips forward. You are going to have a hard time being comfortable riding one with an upright back.
As usual Johnny is right. The thing about correct posture is...it completely changes cockpit reach. Slouching one's back greatly increases reach to the bars. Also one can see the road better with a straighter back because the neck angle is more vertical without a hunch back.
For every rule there is an exception. LA rides as slouched as any top rider I have ever seen and few can argue with his results.
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Old 02-18-09, 12:43 PM
  #10  
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I don't like the barstool analogy...I prefer to think of your position as if you were sitting on a chair and you knew someone was about to pull it out from under you (try it, but keep your back straight!)....that should get you at least into the ballpark.
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Old 02-18-09, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
As usual Johnny is right. The thing about correct posture is...it completely changes cockpit reach. Slouching one's back greatly increases reach to the bars. Also one can see the road better with a straighter back because the neck angle is more vertical without a hunch back.
For every rule there is an exception.
LA rides as slouched as any top rider I have ever seen and few can argue with his results.
He seems to "compensate" for it by riding what many here might consider a large bike (58cm Trek with 120 stem for 5' 10" height), and long stem for his size. He likes to stretch out on the bike it seems.
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Old 02-18-09, 02:06 PM
  #12  
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I do a LOT of long climbs in the mountains and I don't sit up with my hand on the tops. If I want to apply more torque for a brief steeper section, I do the opposite, I lower my torso angle even more. I also ride with my hands on the hoods and my torso angle is relatively low, with a 12cm drop from the saddle to the bars.

I think the term "rolling the hips forward" is unclear. If viewed from the right side, a CW rotation at the hip might flatten the back a bit.

I also think that most people have a natural position for the hips at any given torso angle and there's not much alteration that can be made without discomfort.
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Old 02-18-09, 02:16 PM
  #13  
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If you have lower-back aches and pains, you need to work on your lower-back muscles. Abs are naturally stronger than the backs and you need to bring the back muscles into balance:



The issue on the up-hills is that you're pulling on the bars. Don't do that. Rest your hands on top of the bars and relax and curl your fingers into a loose fist with the fingernails resting on top of the bars. If you're wobbling all over the place due to an uneven pedal-stroke, work on your spinning form, don't compensate for it by yanking on the bars. You end up trying to oppose your leg-muscles with your back-muscles; guess who wins?

When I started, I had very strong legs from 13-years of playing soccer. Problem was that my lower-back wasn't developed enough to balance the leg muscles. I ended up pulling my back so badly on a sprint that I was bed-ridden for 4-weeks. PT and chiropractor helped me get back on the bike after 5 more weeks of walking around with a walker like a little old lady. The chiropractor was actually very versed in sports injuries and physiology and helped me improve my form so that I didn't need to yank on the bars to compensate for wobbling form. Spin-up exercises on downhills up to 200rpms really helped me stay smooth at lower speeds. And back exercises like shown above built up the back muscles. I got up to where I can do 20 reps with a 25-lb weight behind my neck. I never ever had back problems again in the next 10-years of racing.

As for the roll-the-hips-forward keep-the-back-flat form, here's what it looks like:


Notice in the 1st picture that the side-stripe of the jersey is straight and parallel to the ground. The bend is at the hips and butt, not in the lower-back. One way to get into that position is to imagine rolling forward on your saddle trying to put your belly-button on the top-tube. Then you need to slide back on the saddle to keep the weight on the back.

Another way to imagine that position is to stand up on the pedals like in pic#2. Then arch your back the opposite way to put your belly-button down. Then set your butt back down on the saddle. You should feel the jewels being pushed aside by the nose of the saddle (same as when you roll your hips forward).

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 02-18-09 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-18-09, 02:47 PM
  #14  
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Thanks for the info. Will check it out.

Regards,

ted


Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
I would take that rolling your hips idea with a grain of salt. Not everybody's back and pelvic anatomy is the same. It's kind of the same thing as suggesting you should have a flat back as opposed to an arched one. I feel a lot better arched, personally.

With the back pain you describe, I wonder if you're not trying to sit too far back. Have you tried having your saddle higher and bit more forward. The only time in my life I ever had back pain after riding was a few days about 10 years ago when I got carried away after reading some advice about pushing the saddle all the way back on its rails.
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Old 02-18-09, 03:06 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Theodore View Post
and there is an upgrade and I develop pain in the lower back. Therefore this must be due to am improper riding posture.
Upgrades should bring pleasure, not pain.
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Old 02-18-09, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
If you have lower-back aches and pains, you need to work on your lower-back muscles. Abs are naturally stronger than the backs and you need to bring the back muscles into balance:




Danno...even though I agree with what you wrote, I have come back to this thread a couple of times now and you are still doing back reps. Overuse can cause back problems as well so keep that in mind. You should never do more than 500 reps in a row.
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Old 02-18-09, 03:42 PM
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Beg to differ. Hips rotated back is the way to go. Straighter back brings in you butt and lower back muscles much more into play, increasing your power.

The whole idea is to arch you back and bend in the lower middle of your back.
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Old 02-18-09, 04:31 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
Beg to differ. Hips rotated back is the way to go. Straighter back brings in you butt and lower back muscles much more into play, increasing your power.

The whole idea is to arch you back and bend in the lower middle of your back.
Only if you have a low rearward seat and are pushing at the bottom of the stroke to bring the glutes into play. Such as when you're climbing.
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Old 02-18-09, 07:41 PM
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do these postures apply when riding slow and long like during a long century?
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Old 02-18-09, 07:52 PM
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"One way to get into that position is to imagine rolling forward on your saddle trying to put your belly-button on the top-tube. Then you need to slide back on the saddle to keep the weight on the back."

Danno's reply is great. A general comment is that too often people concentrate on the site of the pain rather than the cause. In this case, another couple of things you need to do are flatten your middle to upper back and push the crown of you head forward. A measure of success is that you will feel further forward over your stem when you acheive this for the same position on the seat. The ab and back strength mentioned by posters will allow you to maintain this position without massive pressure on your hands - indeed it should reduce the pressure as you are lower and better balanced. You should have a light grip on the bars not just when climbing but on the flats too. A last side effect of all this is you should be able to acheive better hamstring/glut engagement.
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Old 02-18-09, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Theodore View Post
I have read some people say to sit on your bike with your hips rolled forward and not like you are sitting at a barstool and leaning on the bar. How does one roll the hips forward? I cannot picture this.
"Roll your hips forward" is kind of an odd way to say "tuck your pelvis under".

Stand upright with your back against the wall. With good posture, you should be able to slide a hand between the small of your back and the wall. Now suck your abs in and tuck your pelvis under, and your back will flatten a bit. You don't want it completely flat ... you still want to be able to get your hand in between the small of your back and the wall, but the space should be smaller.

Holding that, sit on your bicycle. You'll find you are now "perching" on the saddle on your sitbones rather than plopping down like a sack of potatoes. You do need strong abs to hold that position.
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Old 02-18-09, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny0 View Post
do these postures apply when riding slow and long like during a long century?
Even more so. If you've got a strong core, and can ride perched on your sitbones with your abs sucked in for the whole ride, you'll be so much more comfortable.
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Old 02-18-09, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Even more so. If you've got a strong core, and can ride perched on your sitbones with your abs sucked in for the whole ride, you'll be so much more comfortable.
thanks. i know what muscles I'll be working on while i wait till it warms up.
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Old 02-18-09, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Another way to imagine that position is to stand up on the pedals like in pic#2. Then arch your back the opposite way to put your belly-button down. Then set your butt back down on the saddle. You should feel the jewels being pushed aside by the nose of the saddle (same as when you roll your hips forward).
Danno,

You know your stuff, and you're not the first person to mention rolling the hips forward to engage the glutes. However, am I mistaken, or do the attached photos show riders with their hips clearly rolled backwards? Whether cruising, or hauling on the track, these guys could clearly roll their hips far more forward and straighten their backs - but they're not. What am I missing?
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Old 02-18-09, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by brians647 View Post
Danno,

You know your stuff, and you're not the first person to mention rolling the hips forward to engage the glutes. However, am I mistaken, or do the attached photos show riders with their hips clearly rolled backwards? Whether cruising, or hauling on the track, these guys could clearly roll their hips far more forward and straighten their backs - but they're not. What am I missing?
I don't see what you're seeing ... and you're not supposed to straighten your back. Unless I'm completely misunderstanding you.

One way to think of tucking the pelvis under (I'm guessing that's what people mean when they say "rolling the hips forward") is to ride as though you are trying to put the middle of your spine on the back of the saddle. Try this ... sit up very straight on your chair. Now suck in your abs. Keep sucking as though you were trying to plant your belly button onto your spine ... and you should eventually tuck your pelvis under.

Last edited by Machka; 02-18-09 at 11:09 PM.
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