Most cyclists I know, are serious about the bike they invest in. They also ensure correct fitting, even if that is merely knowing the right size frame. They invest in good gear to make the activity both comfortable and efficient. Absolutely right, particularly if you are intending to spend hours in the saddle.

It is then about getting the miles in and building strength and developing cardiovascular endurance, but most of all enjoying this great sport\activity.

When I started racking up the miles I felt that this was good enough, it would make me fitter, stronger but only when I started yoga did I realise the physical constraints all those hours in the saddle had inadvertently developed. There were early signs through the biking as well. Lower back pain after long rides, neck ache, numbness in the fingers on the bike and the occasional pain in the hip.

With cycling, the body is supported by the bike and working in the sagittal plane. Cyclists may have marked restriction in the hips, knees, and ankles, whilst this shouldn’t affect pedal stroke it may aggravate lower back. If there is asymmetry in the leg strength, this will reflect in the smoothness and efficiency of the pedal stroke. Really tight abductors or imbalanced vasti muscle, (quads), may distort the leg motion through the stroke making the knee vulnerable to injury. All too often abdominals are not recruited, and core stabilisers become weak.

Having incorporated yoga into my training plan, I could alleviate the constraints, I developed a 10 minute post ride routine that really felt good and was really effective in loosening and encouraging repair and regeneration in the tissues. I used this to great effect when covering 100+ miles each day on my coast to coast rides.

The most significant discovery for me however was pelvic rotations, releasing tightness in the legs hips and developing core strength to allow the flexibility needed to get low down on the ‘drops"' in a really comfortable aero tuck. Before yoga I rode mainly with hands on the hoods, like most people, not aerodynamically efficient, especially in a headwind. Getting low down was, at the time quite uncomfortable. I am now mostly down low, riding more efficiently and actually comfortable, aware of the position of my pelvis and able to maintain the power delivery.

This is one of the reasons I teach pelvic rotations in all my yoga classes as I have seen first-hand the improvements gained.

This is an image I found while researching, courtesy of Allan Reeves. Cyclists could be able to achieve same power output and improved aerodynamics with this posture, proving considerable benefits to body longevity. Clearly if the rider in the second image was on the drops his back would be flat which is at it should be. It does however Illustrate the position of the pelvis.

Join one of my free Zoom classes to learn more about yoga and your body.

I expect that many of us are doing quite a bit of sitting lately, whether this is working from home or watching box sets and generally passing the time we have. Many adults in the UK spend around 9 hours a day sitting, which proportionally, is a large part of our waking hours.

The effects of sitting on our body are well publicised, one of my earlier blogs ‘are you sitting comfortably’ mentions what is going in with our hip flexors but there are much wider ramifications with the lower back and potentially diabetes.

In yoga, we sit, easy pose, (‘sukhasana’ in Sanskrit), sitting cross legged on the floor or mat, like many of us did at school. This is supposed to be a comfortable resting position to facilitate meditation.

Later in our years this can seem rather uncomfortable having conditioned ourselves to chairs, but I would urge everyone to try this at home, in front of the telly and see how it feels. Perhaps by lifting the back of your pelvis up on a cushion or some books it is more comfortable, as high as you might need.

Try to do this at least once a day for as long as you can comfortably, for up to 10 minutes. Over time the soft tissue in the joints, hip flexors, adductors and fascia will lengthen, eventually removing the support and you will regain your normal range of movement.

This simple approach will help alleviate any stiffness in the lower back attributed to tight hip flexors and is a simple yet accessible way to recover your flexibility.

I have lots of easy techniques that will help regain range of movement throughout the body, without embarking on a full home yoga practice. Let me know if you would like to learn more.

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