How to maintain your body as a cyclist!
This is important from an injury prevention point of view but will also make you more efficient and more comfortable on your bike.
Why physios LOVE cycling as sport:
- Non weight bearing so great for rehab and anyone with joint or impact problems
- Fixed pelvis on the seat hence mostly one plane of movement which improves alignment
Things to be wary of:
- Static trunk so can often get very stiff
- Kyphotic (hunched over) trunk which exacerbates our “bad”postures in our day to day life
- Repetitive movement so any poor motor patterns or muscle imbalances are reinforced
- Always work in mid range so only get strength improvements in this range and never get a full stretch on our muscles
However these can be addressed with some easy steps:
- Get a good bike fit!
Anyone who plans on doing lots of cycling should invest in a good bike fit. It will make you a lot more comfortable on your bike but also reduced the risk of overload injuries from a bad position.
- Muscle imbalance screening!
It is also well worth getting a physio to check that all your muscles are working as they should so that you again don’t overload a certain muscle group because something else in the chain isn’t working.
- Mobility/stretching program!
This involves doing the total opposite postures and movements to that of sitting on a bike in order to stop you being stiff and maintain your joint mobility and muscle length. See below for what I would consider some of the most importance exercises.
Evidence around this is mixed and will always remain somewhat controversial. However, the current thinking is this.
- Dynamic (movement) stretches pre-exercise (leg swings, trunk twists etc)
- Static (position holding) stretching post exercises – start at 30s up to about 90s holds.
- Better to do them post ride after a shower when you have time to do them properly rather than rushed post session.
When we think cycling we mostly think legs. However, I firmly believe that the thoracic spine (middle part of your spine) has such a huge role to play when maintain our bodies as a cyclist. This is the area most likely to get stiff and then has a huge impact on our cycling posture but also huge carry over to our day to day life. If we can maintain thoracic mobility it will significantly reduce the risk of injury elsewhere in the body but also the level of comfort on the bike.
Lying on a rolled-up towel or pool noddle is a great way of getting thoracic extension.
Twisting your trunk around from side to side in your chair is a great way of getting thoracic rotation.
Other good stretches for cyclists