Strength & Mobility for Happy Riding by Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy
So You’re A Cyclist…..
What does this mean? To a physical therapist it means many things. The relatively static position of the bike with a fixed repetitive movement for hours has many impacts. The position leads us to think about what muscles are doing the majority of the work and what muscles will need attention due to prolonged time in a shortened position. Hopefully, you are using the correct muscles but that is a different post. Strengthening specific muscles and spending time on stretching/mobility for other muscles will allow for greater power and efficiency, as well as prevent pain and injuries.
Let’s start with the strengthening portion. As a cyclist, most of your power comes from the glutes, but the core and shoulder blades also play crucial roles. If you are weak through your core, then you lose power due to unnecessary movement through the bike. Key muscles to focus on are gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, obliques, transverse abdominis and lower/middle trapezius. A key factor to keep in mind with cycling is that pedaling happens one leg at a time, so to be specific, you need to incorporate single leg exercises.
After hours in the saddle, post ride stretching is crucial, but should also be performed throughout the week. Cyclist are prone to tightness in the hip flexors, lats, thoracic spine and pecs. Decreased mobility can impact posture on the bike, breathing and ability to activate the glutes properly. Proper muscle stretching technique is pain-free low load, long duration. Mobilizing the thoracic spine should be done with repetitive low-grade oscillations.
Maintaining mobility and incorporating focused strengthening will help keep you healthy and pedaling happy through your training, riding, and racing. Check out these strength and mobility exercises for great riding to come:
Band abduction walk
Hinge hips slightly, keep shoulders still and side step, using resistance of band
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Holding weight in opposite hand, bend forward trunk/leg together, and squeeze glute upon standing.
Step back and lunge back, make sure front knee doesn’t come forward or in, weight through front heel.
Plank position, alternate rows making sure to stay stable, don’t arch back.
Side planks from elbow
Don’t arch back, keep abs engaged.
Kneeling thoracic hands on ball thoracic extension and lat stretch
Roll forward onto ball until arms are straight out, extend through thoracic spine (arrow). Hold position performing slow oscillations of thoracic extension
Foam roller pec stretch
Keep back flat, palms up.
Foam roll quadriceps and calves
On hands and knees, abs engaged. Hand behind neck, rotate arm/thorax up towards ceiling, and then back down, reaching underneath
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Lunge position, chest up, squeeze glute. Avoid arching back
Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy is a premier Physical Therapy business with locations in Fort Collins and Loveland.
We're grateful for their support of the FoCo Fondofest this year!