Monday, July 23, 2012

Bradley Wiggins New Posture 2009 vs 2012

Bradley Wiggins BEFORE (2009)  - Photo by 
BAS CZERWINSKI/AP/Press Association Images
Bradley Wiggins AFTER (2012) - Major postural improvements!
I was watching Stage 19 of the 2012 Tour de France and couldn't help but notice that Bradley Wiggins looked very different compared to his time trial position in 2009.  

While there were small improvements over his original bike fit, the biggest difference I noticed was his posture!  I don't know if he focused more on posterior chain core exercises or worked on improving the mobility and range of motion of his spine, but his new posture is much better.  If you compare his thoracic spine, it's a night and day difference.  In the 2009 photo, he had some obvious postural deviations, but in the 2012 photo, he's nearly maintaining a neutral spine!  Now all he needs to work on is his lower back flexibility, but most of that isn't his fault- it's mostly due to UCI's decision to enforce Article 1.3.014.

Article 1.3.014 restricts all cyclists to a saddle tilt position of +/- 2.5 degrees from level with a margin of error of +/- 0.5 degrees.  This means that most of the riders will have a posterior pelvic tilt which will essentially cause the lower back to flex- a posture identified as a major contributing factor to lower back pain.  While UCI claims that this rule will reduce the amount of weight on the aero bars and allow the rider to safely maneuver the bike, it's not "biomechanically" healthy to force riders into this position.

Rules like this makes it even more important for riders to work on improving core strength, flexibility and mobility to maintain a neutral spine despite an inefficient saddle position.  While I keep stressing that good posture can prevent common cycling injuries, good posture can also allow a cyclist to ride more powerfully, efficiently and aerodynamically.  Although I can't say that Bradley's new posture was to key to winning the time trial and the Tour de France, there's no doubt that it helped!