*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study

12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Upper body form, revisited

As a general life policy, I consider it a top priority to help people learn from my mistakes. As many of you witnessed, I took a bad spill off the new love my life (Triumph, the most studly bike who ever lived). I was en route to teach a class on Wednesday night, coming out of Central Park through a path covered in horse excrement. Not wanting Triumph's new tires to get disgusting, I looked down at the ground below me -- instead of "slightly ahead of (me) on the ground" as I coach YOU guys to keep your heads -- and BAM! Missed a rock and went flying.

Here's why we want to keep our "heads lined up with our spines -- looking down but slightly ahead of you on the ground" (as I always say):

I don't know if this photo truly captures the magnitude of my injury, but it was a bloody, disgusting mess -- and I'd very much like for you guys not to repeat my mistake!

<--- *POUT* for bad upper body posture
But three cheers for wearing helmets and HR monitors!

OTHER POINTS ABOUT UPPER BODY POSTURE -- little mantras I hope you can repeat to yourself periodically as you ride:

1) Head/neck
* "Chin off the chest*
* "Gentle space between the chin the shoulders"
* "Head lined up with your spine -- straight line*
* "If you hang your 14 lb. head, you will be cutting off your airway and causing neck and head pain all day long. We hate that."

[*NEW* Tip from a fellow Spinner, Yen Cheong:
"I find one thing that helps my upper-body form (and form in general, I guess), is riding in front of the mirror so I can see myself.... the mirror reminds me to keep my head up and drop my shoulders."

ABSOLUTELY. I personally prefer to ride next to mirrors (as opposed to facing one). Ideally, I can position myself for side and front views... but if I have to pick, side view is more helpful to keeping my head/neck lined up, shoulders back and down, and smooth slope to the back...]

2) Shoulders
* "shoulders rolled back and all the way down"
* "drop the shoulders"
* "retract the shoulders -- pull 'em back"

3) Back
* "as close to a flat back with a smooth slope as possible WITHOUT STIFFENING"
* "smooth slope connecting head, neck, and back"
* "shoulder blades broaden with every inhalation"
* "lower back contracting and relaxing with every breath"
* "always moving, never static"

4) Hands
* in Hand Position #1 (seated, fingers connected at center of handlebar), Hand Position #2 (seated or standing run, hands spread wider on the horizontal part of the handlebar), or Hand Position #3 (standing climb *ONLY* - hands at the top of the handlebars, gripped as cups around the side with thumbs over the top of the handlebar like bullhorns).

If I leave you with NOTHING else, let it be this:
>> There is no Hand Position 2 1/2.

It's 2 or 3. That's it. No grabbing the handlebar halfway towards the top. You will be leaning, always - the geometry of the bike makes it so.

>> We do not use Hand Position 3 while seated.
Spinning bikes are road bikes with fixed gears. Road bikes have what is called a "laid-back geometry" in that their angles are directed backwards. There is no such thing as an "aggressive" posture on a road bike. "Aggressive," as it is called, is a time-trial/triathlon term because those sports use DIFFERENT bikes. On a road bike, if you extend your arms out, you inhibit your ability to breathe by compressing the abdomen. Forget it. If a Spinning instructor calls for hands out at the ends while seated, ignore him or her. It is unsafe and totally contraindicated.
We do not use overhand grips in Hand Position 3. You will be leaning on the bike, forcing you to treat the bike like this big cardio machine like a Stairmaster -- you will never have as smooth, elegant pedal stroke. Wrap your hands around the sides, *thumbs* over the top.

"Light touch on the handlebars. Any time you tense up the grip, you use energy to contract those hand and arm muscles... you rob your legs of energy! Spinning is not an upper body exercise."
* Meaty parts of the hands lightly touching the handlebars. More than the fingertips -- meaty party of the hand.
* "Thumbs lined up with wrists" to make sure no tension/learning
Forearms contact neither the bars nor the towels laying over the bars - totally un-involved. After all, they're called "hand-lebars" not "forearm-lebars"

Ride on... and don't trip over rocks ;-)

1 comment:

Yen said...

I find one thing that helps my upper-body form (and form in general, I guess), is riding in front of the mirror so I can see myself. Since I don't have a peloton to crash into, the mirror reminds me to keep my head up and drop my shoulders.