This is a thought on cycling, but actually it is a useful one that could apply to almost anything.
There are lots of sources of info on setting your bike up ergonomically e.g. here This is a good starting point to let you use your body in the best way.
But it’s not the whole story.
In the same way that you can be tense or collapsed in your expensive ergonomic chair, you can bring your habits of posture or tension to your cycling.
A big part of Alexander Technique is learning your own quirky habits and reactions. Having discovered them you will find that you bring them to pretty much anything you do to varying degrees!
This is more obvious when watching other people – the habitual sloucher will be like that as a default in most situations. The tense ‘military’ bearing person is unlikely to be collapsed and round shouldered when cycling.
We all have more subtle aspects of our posture and way of being that are useful to know, shallow breathing for instance or locking our knees. We have ‘go-to’ postures and reactions when we are bit stressed or challenged – it’s sort of a safety in familiarity thing for your body and brain.
What is really useful is that nearly all of these little unhelpful habits are helped by one idea – ‘expansion’
This idea helps you to get beyond just your external posture or ergonomics and address your muscle tension and calmness too.
So, when cycling, it doesn’t matter so much whether you have a straight back or a rounded one, but whether you are collapsed and contracted or expanded (i.e. lengthened and widened, and being light and springy).
This isn’t about stretching yourself – that just adds extra muscular tension and effort.
If you imagine yourself lengthening your head away from your tailbone, and at the same time letting your back widen – this is something you can do with a straight back or a rounded back.
If you get some back pain from cycling you can experiment with creating more bend at the hips instead of the waist, but remember your spine has curves. You want the whole back to be gently expanding, rather than worrying about making a particular ‘correct’ shape.
Lengthening and widening your back makes it easier to breathe more freely, reduces the amount of muscular effort you need, helps you support yourself through your arms more easily. It’s difficult to get too wound up by the traffic too if you are letting yourself expand and breathe.
Let me know how you find this. Does it help you cycle with more ease?
Want to have some practical help with cycling including how to use your legs with ease and use of arms and hands? Applying this way of making less effort with our bodies can take a bit of learning!