by Jon-Erik Kawamoto
While cycling is a low impact sport, it can still take a toll on your body. Your aerodynamic riding position and prolonged time spent in this flexed posture put negative stresses on the spine and surrounding supporting structures. If you don’t take preventative measures, postural- and joint mobility-related problems might cut your season short.
To create a more durable body, you need to use movement patterns and postures that are the opposite of what is involved in cycling. These postures will maintain optimal joint and muscle function and prevent unwanted overuse injuries from surfacing. A research study in Manual Therapy examined both cyclists with and without lower back pain. It found that the cyclists suffering from lower back pain displayed a trend toward greater lower lumbar spine rotation and flexion when compared to the cyclists without pain. Extension-based exercises relieved the pain, which suggests that you should avoid the rounded-back sitting posture when cycling and during daily activities. Keeping a straight back is the first line of defence in keeping you healthy. Additionally, you should perform stretches that target the hips and lower leg musculature regularly to address common tightness found among cyclists.
The stretches below focus on the most common problem areas. When you do them before a workout or a race, hold each stretch for 5 to 10 seconds and perform 6 to 10 times. When you do these stretches after a ride, hold each one for as long as 2 minutes.
Prone Spinal Extension
Lie face down on the floor. Prop yourself up onto your elbows. Push into the floor and lift your chest off the ground. Keep your hips in contact with the floor and tuck in your chin slightly. Your spine will go into extension, which should be pain free and actually quite relaxing. To take the stretch up a notch, you can extend your elbows and press up onto your hands.
Prone Chest Stretch
Lie on your stomach with one arm out at 90 degrees. Bend your opposite leg and step over your straight leg while turning your hips upward. Reach for the sky with your free arm. You should feel a gentle stretch in your chest.
To create a more durable body, you need to use movement patterns and postures that are the opposite of what is involved in cycling.
Kneeling Back Stretch
Sit on your ankles and fold forward at your hips. With your arms overhead, push your chest toward the ground. You should feel a good stretch under your armpits.
Kneeling Hip Stretch
Kneel on one knee with the opposite leg forward. Transfer a bit of weight forward while remaining tall and reaching up for the sky. Squeeze your butt on the kneeling-side hip. You should feel a good stretch in the front of your hip.
Kneeling Thigh Stretch
Kneel on one knee with the opposite leg forward. Grab your back foot and bring it toward your butt carefully. Stay tall and keep your balance. Transfer a bit of weight forward and squeeze your butt on the kneeling side hip. You should feel a gentle stretch in front of your hip and down your thigh.