Dutch Courage – Could your Bike be encouraging neck, back or shoulder pain?

bikeOn a recent trip to Amsterdam it really struck me at how the locals looked so relaxed on their bikes. Part of this is because there is a real bike culture and everything is set up to enable cyclists to move around freely. They have priority over cars and pedestrians.

However I believe it is more to do with the bikes they tend to use. The “Sit up and Beg Bike”.

I’m not sure why these are not more popular in this country (possibly because we have more hills) but they do encourage better posture. The whole spine can lengthen without scrunching the neck and it is therefore easier and I would say safer to see around you as you cycle.

The handle bars are not straight like on a mountain bike and they also tend to be much higher up, they  are more to the sides encouraging the front of the chest to be open.

skeletonHowever a word of caution, it is like buying a really expensive office chair, we can still slump in it! We need to look at what WE are up to! I did observe some people doing a good slump on them, however I saw more open posture than I see on cyclists in the UK.

I do find in my work that many cyclists tend to have tight neck and shoulders muscles, in my 10 years experience this seems to be more than in non cyclists. Maybe we have something to learn from the Dutch.

As you can see from this image the mountain bike with low straight handle bars encourages an over flexed spine with a scrunched neck and rounded shoulders. If only we could see inside ourselves!

I would recommend the “Sit up and Beg” bike but encourage people to also look at themselves also. Alexander Technique sessions help us to move in a way that doesn’t hurt whatever your activity.