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Core strength

Morning everyone,

I have been cycling for years, primarily on a mountain bike and then in 2014 I started to ride on the road.

I have always struggled with pain on my road bike (not from the effort) and they are always manifested in the same place. So much so in 2017 I gave up.

But I am back. The bug has hit but again I am experiencing pain in the same places.

Rather than ignore them I aim to get a bike fit once this virus is under more control.

The pain I get is primarily at my elbows from locking my arms out. No matter what size stem I gravitate to locked arms (I do not on my mountainbike)


Neck to the point of severe headaches.

Calf muscles and Achilles tendons.

I am on the right size bike. And I am not overweight or unfit. I am 42 years old. Saddle to bar drop is not extreme at all.

If I try to alleviate the weight on my arms then it feels like I am falling forward and my legs then have to go mad to try and catch me if that makes sense?

So I am thinking weak core? My job involves a lot of driving and sitting.

Just wanted to see what you guys thought? Should the core be engaged when cycling and is it something you guys are aware of being engaged when riding?

I know its difficult on the web and I do need to get checked out on the bike but I thought it would be good to start making positive changes now.

Or am I consigned to my mountainbike?

Appreciate any help.




  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 11,745
    You should have some core strength from mtb riding tbh. I ride both and found I can suffer on either type of riding if I put to much pressure on the bars, i.e not having bent elbows and not keeping wrists straight. If I'm putting to much pressure or effort into pedalling by trying to push to harder a gear gives me pain. As your happy with position and reasonably fit I'd be considering the above, also hydration plays a big part especially given the hot weather recently. It does sound like your lower back / core strength is lacking so you need to build on that. Loads of internet based stuff on that subject.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • masjermasjer Posts: 2,366
    Doing core exercises is always a good idea even if it doesn't alleviate all your problems on the bike.
    If it feels like you a falling forwards with too much weight on your wrists- this often indicates that the saddle is too far forward. When the saddle is pushed backwards your centre on gravity is also pushed back- taking weight off your arms.
    Also check the saddle is level (level ground with a spirit level) -any tipping forward will also put more weight forward on your arms.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 6,077
    Do you have access to a turbo. If so try pedalling in your normal riding position without your hands on the bars( not sat up right) this should give you an indication whether you have any cycling core strength.
  • bumblesbumbles Posts: 9
    Thank you for the helpful comments.

    Saddle is flat and I do have a turbo and will have a play around tonight. I will also try the saddle fore and aft. I hadn't thought of that. It does appear fairly far forward in attempt to reduce the reach which seems to be a red herring....

    Should I feel my core engaged when on a road bike? Or is it something that you guys do without realising it and because I do not currently. When I engage it I am therefore aware. If that makes sense??? Haha.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,018
    Like any other muscle group, the 'core' will adapt to whatever demands you place on it. So I doubt if that is the issue specifically - and as others have said, you already ride MTB, so your core will have adapted to a degree already.

    Apart from that, it's impossible to diagnose much else on the info you've given. The issue seems positional, so a bike fit might be an option, but in the meantime, a few side-on pics of you on your bike posted here would be helpful, as it might be possible to identify any glaring issues from there...
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 24,691
    edited August 2020
    bumbles said:

    The pain I get is primarily at my elbows from locking my arms out. No matter what size stem I gravitate to locked arms (I do not on my mountainbike)

    1st step would be to stop doing that.
    Add spacers under the stem if required, and possible.

    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 6,077
    I can’t say I am aware of engaging my core when cycling. However I occasionally get cramp in my abs when riding often as a result of trying get my phone out of my back pocket in a rush. This usually the day after doing some core and rock climbing training.
  • bumblesbumbles Posts: 9
    Thanks for the input.

    I have raised my handlebars and taken my seat back and will try a few changes on the set up to see if things improve.
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,784
    edited August 2020
    I'm going to suggest you try the opposite, if you haven't already... Lower the bars (taking account of whether your fork steerer is carbon or not).

    If the bars are too high, you might be shrugging your shoulders up, instead of letting them comfortably drop to a relaxed state. So over time on a ride, as your shoulders fatigue, you then start locking your arms to increase the distance between the bars contact point and your shoulder socket.

    My Cube has a very high front end and for a long time, I had no more than 15mm of spacers above the stem. But since last winter, I've had all 30mm of spacers above the stem on the alloy steerer, it's eliminated the shoulder fatigue I used to suffer on 2+ hour rides and not upset my fairly weak lower back.
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • Dorset_BoyDorset_Boy Posts: 6,670
    Do you do any stretching post ride and generally? That will certainly help - plenty of good cycling specific routines to be found online.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 16,087
    as above, seems like the saddle position may be off, get that right first

    try these two... can do it on the turbo, make sure the bike is level

    once the saddle is correct, you may need to adjust the bars
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • hdowhdow Posts: 183
    As others have said, look at your bike fit

    I've used the Steve Hogg posts and they are good
  • trekvettrekvet Posts: 223
    Or you could just ramp up your core exercises, like dolphin, sit-ups, leg raises, and Russian twist (legs up), and as you sit alot, hip flexors could be weak, so strengthen them also. Work til it hurts, repeat later in the weak, stretch them inbetween, plenty protien, could make a difference. I do at least these so that I can run marathons every four weeks at 71.
    The Wife complained for months about the empty pot of bike oil on the hall stand; so I replaced it with a full one.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 4,488
    The book Core Advantage by Tom Danielson is specifically about core strength training for cyclists. Worth a look.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 8,688
    edited September 2020
    Point your saddle up a bit would be my advice. So many saddles that look level actually leave you sliding forwards.
    Also agree with the guy above who suggested it may be too far forwards.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
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