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.
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