It doesn't matter whether you commute, have a basket on the front of your bike or are hardcore Tour de France material, you are a cyclist.
You assume the position on your bike and you turn the peddles. As far as your legs and posture are concerned, you are cycling.
However, when did last pay any attention to your posture on your bike? Really pay attention? Sure you might notice your shoulders are sore, your hamstrings maybe tight or your neck is achy, but can you figure out why? Maybe you put it down to your desk job? Stress and lifestyle? Perhaps we need to take a closer look.
Holding on to handlebars can cause stress and tension in your neck and shoulders. Commuter cyclists may not realise the daily stress they are under dodging cars, potholes, pedestrians and dealing with general traffic flow. Unknowingly clenching the fists, gripping the brakes too tight not to mention having to look around a lot can cause aches and pains. Try and relax your shoulders, give them a roll when you are stopped at red lights (it's the law remember!)
Likewise, I have treated many cyclists for numbness in the hand, leaning too heavily on the palm causing ulnar nerve compression. Try and loosen up a little, soften your grip, remember pulling on the brakes too much can cause a blowout in warm weather so better to get confident at descending off climbs.
Feet don't get a lot of action on the bike! Especially if you're clipped in. Some people cycle with a stable foot while others slightly point and flex the foot, but it's really not much. Our leg is always bent too, tight hips and tight hamstrings are common complaints. As for that sore back? Look at your hips, if they are tight, your back is sore. It's a chain reaction, literally!
So how can you improve your cycling with all this poor posture going on?
Yoga for Cyclists!
For the last three years I have been teaching this class. I devised a class that would counteract the effects of cycling on the body. It is very posture focused, if you don't know your quads from your calves, you will at the end! I encourage everyone to come for four consecutive weeks. You need time to settle into the routine and get to grips with your body! Not everyone is body conscious, we might all hate our love handles and know about cellulite, but are you in touch with your body? Do you ever think about it? Improving years of poor posture takes more than four weeks, but a new habit only takes 28 days to form. If you commit to coming for four consecutive weeks it becomes routine. Giving your body an hour week to lengthen, open, breath, recover, repair and adjust. After all you oil your chain, why not lubricate your joints too?
Yoga postures for cyclists include hip openers, bringing your back into extension as opposed to the huge amount of flexion we do daily, shoulder and neck releases, core strength and spine mobility. This class is about educating you, creating a newfound respect for your body, after all, you want to cycle to the best of your best of your ability. If your body is bent and stiff, how can you expect it cycle efficiently?
So take some time off the bike to learn how to be on the bike! Learn to be aware of your body position on your bike. Reduce injuries, recover quicker, become more efficient in your breathing and most of all, look after the only body you have. You can't replace it like you can your bike!
Join me on Monday Nights, 7:30pm. Raw Gym, Richmond Street, Dublin 2
Booking essential. Further information
How about a week of cycling and yoga combined in sunny Spain? Join me for an amazing trip to the mountains of Sierra Nevada for stunning climbs and rooftop Yoga. Further information
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 & 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 two Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons. She is currently training for her third Dublin City Marathon.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.