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!


5 comments:

  1. Do you recommend tilting the saddle forward to help improve posture? I have been trying to maintain a flat back by rolling my hips forward but find it difficult, perhaps in part due to a level saddle.
    Dale

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    1. Absolutely! Tilting the saddle nose down will give your pelvis room to tilt forward (without discomfort) and help you maintain a neutral spine. 10-15 degrees tends to be the maximum range before you'll run into the problem of sliding down the saddle. If you have a smart phone, I recommend getting the leveler app to measure exactly how many degrees the saddle is set to. Let me know if you DO start to slide down and I'll help you fine tune your saddle position.

      http://eatsleeptrainsmart.blogspot.com/2012/04/must-have-apps-leveler-angle-finder-for.html

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    2. Thanks for the advice Vincent! I have set my saddle to about 10 degrees and it feels fine on a short test ride. My goal is to ride more like Bradley and I have seen him with an even flatter back than in the second picture above. I spent about 6 month flat on the sofa with a herniated disc so I'm very motivated to improve my posture!

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    3. No problem! That's a good goal to shoot for! If you have a link to the picture or video, I'd like to see the new and improved Bradley. Make sure you maintain a neutral spine on and off the bike too- posture is important anytime you lift, sit, drive, walk, etc. Also, if you've been relatively inactive for 6 months, it would be a really good idea to work on core stabilization exercises.

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  2. The bike felt great on a fast group ride yesterday as I seemed to be able to get lower and more comfortable and use a little less energy. I'm also trying to improve my posture sitting, standing and running. Also been doing basic core work including push ups and low weight squats. I'll look for pictures of Bradley I can share. Thanks again for the advice!

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