If you’ve ever suspected that you have significantly greater thoracic kyphosis than the average mountain biker, turns out you’re correct. Scientists studying how cycling affects the shape of a person’s spine have found that road cyclists tend to be a bit more hunch-backed.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, took 30 road cyclists, 30 mountain bikers and 30 non-cyclists and measured their posture with a spinal mouse. A spinal mouse is not some sort of highly-trained medical rodent, but more like a computer mouse which is run up a person’s spine to measure bodily contours.
It seems the road cycling posture, which was “characterised by greater lumbar flexion and more significant anterior pelvic tilt and trunk inclination compared with the mountain biking posture,” was more likely to leave people a little hunched over in the upper part of the spine.
But it’s not all bad news for roadies. The study also looked at hamstring muscle extensibility and found: “Road cyclists had significantly greater hamstring muscle extensibility in the active knee extension test, and showed greater anterior pelvic tilt and trunk inclination capacity in the sit-and-reach test, compared with mountain bikers and non-cyclists.”