Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Lying around to get fitter, stronger and faster on and off the bike. Why didn't Lance Armstrong think of that?
All day long we are bent forward in flexion, whether you sit at a desk, slouch on the couch, pick up children or spend your day in the car. We keep stooping forward. Then along comes the weekend and we jump on our bikes. More flexion, more rounded shoulders, more tightening in our hip flexors. We are totally out of balance. Our poor backs are flexed, our shoulders keep falling forwards, our hips are tight and in turn we crank our necks trying to lift our heads. Our diaphragms are also compressed and you may not be breathing efficiently, slowing you down on tough climbs and sprints.
How often do you backbend? Take your back from flexion, to neutral and then into extension? Did you even know your back can extend? You don't need to join an acrobatics team to get your spine moving. You just need to be aware that your back does in fact like to back bend.
So where do you start? How do you get a tight, round back to extend?
Lie on the floor!
Let's make life easy and cheat! Why not? If you angle the tv correctly you can enjoy your favorite show while re aligning your spine!
You will need:
If you can, aim to spend a few minutes a day in this position. The longer the better. If you can spend a good half hour here all the better. Think about how long you are flexed over your handlebars? You need to undo all that for starters.
Try and relax into this position, gravity will do all the work for you. This is a great exercise , it's simple, highly effective and can be done almost anywhere! If you have teenagers/ students get them involved too. Hours spent studying at desks / computer games are building poor posture patterns for the future. Young people complaining about back and neck pain is too common these days.
Other ways to improve your athletic performance lying on the floor.
Leg drains. Lie on your back with your legs up the wall or put them up on the back of the couch. Aids venous return, helps to diminish fatigue and swelling in your legs. If you also have varicose veins this is a must. Veins collapse as they work against gravity. By inverting the legs you are using gravity to your advantage, taking pressure off sore collapsed veins. Also great for runners and pregnancy.
Foam rollers and/ or Massage balls. Tease out sore tired body parts. Give yourself a good old roll around. Most often I hear “it's too sore.”
You may be going a bit too hard. Also your body is being pulled down onto the foam roller, you may find it easier to use massage balls up against the wall where you have more control of the pressure.
Backbends from Yoga / Pilates
Do you go to Yoga or Pilates? Do you ever do any of your exercises at home? You should! One hour a week in class is great but it's not enough. Give yourself a mini class at home to keep you supple and strong.
are just some of the amazing poses you can do once your spine is fully warmed up and mobile.
Failing all that, book in for a Physical Therapy appointment and we can discuss your postural needs.
These are all just simple ways to improve your posture. If you have spine issues or unexplained back pain you should seek medical attention. Please consult with your Physician before trying any new exercise program.
More information on Sinéad, her Yoga and Pilates classes, winter training camp in Spain and her workshops.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.