Health Nut: Get to the core of cycling posture

Get Your Best Cycling Posture

By Kelly Turner

All of our lives, we’re told: “Sit up straight.” “Don’t slouch.” “Head up, shoulders back.” My reminders were usually followed by a sharp poke in the side to really drive the point home.

Not only is good posture a sign of confidence and a great way to let a would-be attacker know you are not easy prey (I just learned that in self-defense class), it is also a good indicator of a balanced, evenly developed muscle system in terms of both strength and flexibility.

Poor posture is most often caused by the muscles in the front of the body—chest, abs, hips—becoming too tight and pulling the shoulders and head forward causing that always attractive hunchback look. Not only does it make you look like a question mark, but poor posture can limit range of motion and lead to chronic back pain and headaches.

Usually our sedentary lifestyles are to blame—deskbound at work all day, sitting in front of the computer in our free time, sitting on the couch to wind down for the evening. Very few of us get enough activity to counteract all that time we spend hunched forward.

Not always, though. Cyclists are some of the most active people in terms of sheer hours spent training each day. Being in a consistently hunched position over the bike’s handlebars for extended periods of time, however, can lead to tighter muscles through the front of the body and weaker muscles along the back, as they aren’t required to work to keep that position.

If you’re an avid cyclist, or even just a spin-class addict, avoid the dreaded Quasimodo Syndrome by focusing your strength training and flexibility efforts on counteracting any imbalances that may occur over time.

Train your core as one unit

Crunches hit the front of the body, but traditional ab exercises neglect the deep internal core muscles and the lower back. Doing exercises that hit every part of the core, like planks, ensure you aren’t overlooking any muscle groups.

Give a little extra love to your back

Strengthening the muscles in your back is the quickest way to pop those shoulders back and open up your chest and abs. Rows are a great exercise to hit between your shoulder blades, and back extensions do wonders to strengthen the lower back and glutes.

Stretch the main posture saboteurs daily

A tight chest and abs will pull your shoulders and head forward, and tight hip flexors limit range of motion.

Stretch these three areas daily, or work yoga into your regular routine, to make sure your entire body stays nice and limber.

Cyclist or not, you’re slouching right now aren’t you? Sit up straight! Poke!

Kelly Turner

Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE certified personal trainer and fitness writer. You can contact her at Twitter: @KellyTurnerFit Instagram: KellyTurner26


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