For a long while now there been much talk of upper body strengthening and core strengthening exercises, all of which are very valid. However, the one element that is often missing the way your body patterns are set up and how well they function.
All too often we are completely unaware of how bad our movement patterns are, in which case strengthening them will only allow us to use them badly more strongly! Small asymmetries and deviations out of the normal planes from front to back and side to side can have a huge effect on efficiency and power to cyclist and also increase their risk of injury.
There are some very simple principles that the discerning cyclist should follow:
- Train to keep the pelvis level in a consistent position by accessing the gluteal muscles in the buttock.
- Learn to flex the hip without bending the spine from side to side.
- Learn how to keep the knee aligned with their hip.
A secure trunk, with low-effort abdominals activity will allow you to breathe normally as you cycle. Compressing the body in a sprint situation will give you a short-term blast of power, but this strategy cannot be sustained in long road races. Therefore, those engaging in these longer events should develop independent trunk control so that they are not over- dependent on their arms for stability and so that they do not restrict their rib cage expansion by overusing the oblique abdominal muscles.
Food for thought for when you next get on your bike!
By Jane Morris, Owner of the Centre for Complementary Health
For more information on Bike Week see http://bikeweek.org.uk/us/