Riding with a balanced and calm body position may appear to be a simple ability for a road cyclist. Still, even experienced riders struggle with it, and it can be frustrating for newbies. When evaluating pain while riding, we normally look at optimal body position after having a good bike fit. It may seem simple, but remembering to relax your shoulders while out on a long ride or exerting yourself can prevent you from neck ache the next day.
On a road bike, what is a good neutral position?
The head is the starting point for a healthy neutral riding position, and it continues to your feet. On extended rides, check in with your body position now and then to ensure you haven’t reverted to undesirable habits.
Relax and bring your shoulders down, away from your ears. If you’ve been exerting yourself on a climb, you might notice your shoulders tense and begin to creep up again.
Lowering your shoulders away from your ears frees up your head, making it easier to swivel and watch for traffic while also assisting you in remaining attentive!
Make sure your elbows are bent! Like on a mountain bike, relaxed, bent elbows act as suspension. Your arms can assist you in absorbing impact if you strike a pothole or a bump in the road. Unlike a mountain bike, your elbows should be tucked towards your sides rather than spread wide like wings. Maintaining a bent elbow reduces shoulder pain and allows you to ride with less pressure on your hands.
Your wrists, on the other hand, should not bend. Maintain a straight line on the brakes from your elbow to your fingers. If this is difficult, it could be a bike setup issue, which you should discuss with your expert bike fitter.
Keep your spine in a neutral position. What exactly does that imply? It’s similar to yoga, in a way. If you’re familiar with the Cat and Cow yoga positions, either of those positions in the saddle can cause pain and inefficiency on the bike. Maintain a relatively straight line between your hips and shoulders by relaxing your back. While riding, the simplest method to verify this position is to ask oneself, “Is my core engaged?” If your abdominal muscles relax when cycling, you may find yourself in a slouched riding position, putting pressure on your hands, shoulders, even sections of your crotch (eek)!
Check that your knee is over the ball of your foot/pedal. When you ride, if your knees bow out to the side, it may appear amusing, but it will certainly result in inefficiency and pain.
When Should I Apply the Drops?
One of the best things about road bikes is putting your hands in three different places! Road bikes are meant to traverse long distances with a stationary rider. Thus the handlebars are designed to seem that way on purpose. Having several places to put your hands allows you to shift body positions and vary your center of gravity, allowing you to use different muscle groups and change your center of gravity.
Drops are great for descending! Landing on the road requires lowering your hands to the handlebar’s “drops.” However, it may be a little unnerving at first. By reducing your hands to the bar, you’re decreasing your center of gravity and putting a little more pressure on the front wheel. While cycling downhill, this will improve traction and balance. You’ll have a stronger grip on the brakes as well!
The hoods are where you’ll spend the majority of your time. Riding in the hoods lets you shift and reach the brakes with ease while maintaining a comfortable riding position.
Only ride with your hands on the tops of the handlebars if there is no traffic. Riding in this posture is risky unless you have access to brakes on the top of your handlebars. On the other hand, this stance can help you recover and breathe easier during lengthy, steady climbs. If you’re in traffic or downhill, riding with your hands on top of the bars isn’t a smart idea because you won’t have as much control over the bike, even if you have brakes.
Why do my hands become numb when I ride?
On group rides, we hear it all the time. Your hands are numb when you come to a halt to take a drink of water. Why? Although this may be a bike fit issue, it could be a problem with your body position if you’ve determined that your bike’s reach is appropriate. Your fingers and hands will typically become numb as a result of poor blood flow and circulation. Check to see if you’re riding with your elbows relaxed and slightly bent. When you ride with your arms straight, you’re putting a lot of weight on your hands and handlebars. Check the alignment of your wrists. If your wrist is bent, adequate blood circulation in your hand may be compromised. Activate your core! Reminding your abs to do some work will relieve some of the stress on your hands!