AVOID SEIZING UP
Boost Physio specialist Steven Berkman explains how to mix up your ride position
Check your pelvic position every 30 minutes in the saddle, to ensure you’re not posteriorly tilted – slouching with a rounded lower back – which can cause stress to the lumbar ligaments and discs. Check you’re not sliding forwards on the saddle, which often happens if your bike frame is too big, or if your reach to the handlebar is too far. This can lead to an overly flexed lower back.
Pain often results from the wrist being in an extended position (bent backwards) with your upper body weight going through it. To reduce the strain through the ligaments and joints around the carpal (wrist) bones when your hands are on the brake hoods or drop bars, aim to keep the knuckle of your index finger aligned with your forearm. Change your grip periodically onto the tops of the bar – here the forearm is in a pronated position (palm facing downwards), which changes the strain load.
Even on shorter rides you should perform a series of pelvic tilts to ‘decompress’ the lumbar spine and change the pressure and forces through the ligaments, joints and discs in the lower back. Rock the pelvic girdle forwards and back on the saddle in a rhythmic motion for 10 reps, then do three reps sustaining each end of the tilt for 10 seconds. When stopped at junctions do five reps of back extensions to counteract the repetitive flexed posture on the bike. Standing out of the saddle will also change the hip flexion angle.
To prevent ‘pinched’ nerves around the shoulders keep your chin tucked in and the back of your neck long, with your shoulder blades down (depressed) and backwards (retracted). To stretch out a tight neck, stretch the trapezius and levator scapulae muscles by hanging one arm by your side and taking your ear to the opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch.
Saddle position may be key to avoiding strain on your ‘crown jewels’. If your saddle is too far back, or your handlebar too far forwards, over time you’ll slide forwards taking pressure through the perineum than your ‘sit bones’. Sit on the wider part on the back of the saddle to reduce strain through the perineum.
Stretch out and change positions to stay comfortable in the saddle
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