The influence of body position on leg kinematics and muscle recruitment during cycling

Andrew R. Chapman, Bill Vicenzino, Peter Blanch, Joanna J. Knox, Steve Dowlan and Paul W. Hodges

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of upper body orientation on control of movement of distal leg segments during cycling. Three-dimensional leg, foot kinematics and muscle recruitment patterns were compared between upright and aerodynamic riding positions in 10 elite cyclists, 10 elite triathletes and 10 novice cyclists. Upper body orientation did not influence kinematics of the leg and foot or primary muscle activity. The aerodynamic riding position was, however, associated with less modulation of muscle activity and greater coactivity in elite triathletes and novice cyclists. The results suggest that orientation of the upper body influences neuromuscular control of the leg during cycling in elite triathletes and novice cyclists. The change in muscle recruitment implies that the ability of the central nervous system to execute the cycling movement in the most skilled manner was adversely influenced by upper body orientation in elite triathletes and novice cyclists.

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, online article ahead of press

Link to abstract