With any repetitive activity we always recommend exercises and movements to counteract that particular posture. For example, if you are working at a desk on a computer, we will prescribe exercises for our patients to extend the neck and back, open the shoulders, wrists and elbows, extend the hips and switch on the core.
Cycling obviously is performed with a flexed trunk posture, with flexed hips and the shoulders and arms forward, the knees flexing and extending within a limited range. Static loading is the term used for muscles and structures operating within a limited range. This causes tightening, fatigue, imbalance and discomfort. Exercises to reverse the static loading in cycling involve extending the hips, back, and shoulders and stretching the calves and thighs. Here is a simple routine to get you started:
· Purchase a 90 cm foam roller. These can be bought from sport/leisure/department stores or online from fitness/gym providers.
· Lie on your back on the roller, with the roller running lengthways from the base of your spine (sacrum) to the back of your head. Your neck needs to be neutral (your eyes not looking up or down). Your knees need to be bent and your feet flat on the ground. Have your arms comfortably at your sides with your palms up. Close your eyes and relax. Your long term goal is to lie in this posture for 10 minutes but initially when your body is getting accustomed to the posture just lie there for a minute or 3 and only while it feels comfortable. As you get used to this posture you can change the angle of your arms to vary the muscle stretch (always with the palms up).
· You can then use the roller to stretch your calves, quads, iliotibial bands (ITB). With the roller on the ground move the body and the muscle down over the roller to effectively be rolling up the muscle. Never roll over the bones, i.e. roll between ankle bone and knee and between knee and hip bone. Always roll up so you are moving blood in the direction of the heart. When you roller onto a particularly tight spot it is useful to rock a little from side to side at that level and then move further up. You can find lots of videos demonstrating these techniques on Youtube, or we are always happy to instruct you. Rolling the tight muscles is always a bit uncomfortable, like a deep tissue massage. Stop if you feel excessive pain and check with your healthcare provider.
· Stretch your hip flexors. If you have access to a firm bench or table you can lie on, then lie on your back with one leg hanging off the side. Pull your opposite knee up to your chest and flatten your lower back. Allow gravity to gradually stretch the hip of the straight leg. Stretch for 2 minutes on each side.
Again, if you have pain with any of these exercises then consult your health care provider or give us a call. These exercises can be performed between cycling sessions for both recovery and preparation.
Scott and Kiara at Champion Chiropractic Centre