The top and the bottom of it –

How far are you able to ride without pain? Are you one of these people who gets pain up hills or do you just have to be on the bike for it to happen? Cycling pain can manifest itself in the knees, ankles, calves and hamstrings to name a few, although commonly pain is seen in the neck and the back. Due to the length of time triathletes spend on the bike and the aim to be as aero as possible means excess stress can be felt through the neck and back. Cycling itself has so many elements that a small or large change can impact the joints and the muscles.

If you are new to cycling, have just upgraded to a new set of wheels or have been cycling for a while but have never had a bike fit – my suggestion is that this is your first stop!  Making sure that you are on the correctly sized bike is important- no amount of good bike fitting is going to help if you’re on the wrong size steed. If you are not doing a lot of cycling then the standard fit at the bike store might be sufficient, but if you’re going to be spending a lot more time on your bike I can’t emphasise enough the importance of tweaking the bike to fit you. If you are looking for a specific bike fit that takes into consideration your bodies strength and weaknesses talk to your local physiotherapist about a bike fit specialist in your area.

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In any kind of sport different forces are put through the joints in the body. If there is an imbalance or stiffness already existing within the chain, different structures can become either overused or stiff. Through my coaching and clinic there are number of things that regularly pop up with cycling in triathlons.

Here is the list of the deficits I usually see –

  • Poor glute control (use their back or all muscles to get power)
  • Stiff thoracic spine (neck has to work harder to see those pot holes in front)
  • Short hip flexors (pulls your pelvis forward makes it harder for the glutes to work)
  • Poor core control (puts more weight through arms and therefore more force through the upper body)

So what can you do about it?

If you are experiencing any pain it’s a good idea  to check in with a professional to see whether it is the stiffness, control or possibly muscle strength that is your issue. Figuring out where your weaknesses lie will only make it easier to improve. If you’re just someone that isn’t getting pain but is feeling tight these exercises are a great way to help keep the mobility and control in the places needed for cycling.

Hip Flexor stretch

Make sure you keep your bottom under and lean forward through your hips not through your back.

Hip Flexor Stretch 1

Thoracic Extension Exercise

Work through your thoracic spine spending about 40-50 seconds on each level. Use something like a rolled towel if a ball is just a little bit too much for you. Keep your pelvis down while leaning over the ball for a better stretch. If you still want more take your arms back over your head.

Thoracic Extension 3 Thoracic Extension 1

Squat

The biggest thing is to push back through your hips and push up to standing through your hips as well. Try not to take your knees forward.

Squat (2)

Forward lean leg extensions

Find something to lean forward on – similar to the position on the bike and slowly cycle your legs through without using your back or arching your shoulders.

Fwd lean leg ext - start leg ext - third Leg ext- second

Scapular control exercise

Starting in a plank position from your knees (or your toes if you have more control) take your shoulder blades together and apart without losing your back or pelvic position.

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Doing these exercises on a regular basis will improve your control and decrease the stress on your body. Those little niggles or tightness that you get usually don’t just go away so getting proactive about your exercises is super important!!!!!! Happy pain free cycling!

Related Tags: Sports Physio Gold CoastInjury Management Gold Coast