Cycling has two huge perks: it is both a rigorous workout and a chance to explore cities, mountains, and the countryside. But like all high-intensity sports, cycling can result in injuries, especially when your body is unprepared for the strain of your workouts. In addition to impact injuries, riders often experience lower back pain, knee pain, and tension in their neck, arms, and wrists. These injuries can cause greatly reduced performance abilities, and, in some cases, a forced break from the sport.
All of these injuries are direct products of form or equipment issues. Hunching over the handlebars for hours on end puts strain on the lower back. Knees can be put under unnecessary pressure from a badly fitted saddle, or thrown out of commission by a stiff iliotibial (IT)-band. And a tense upper body while riding tweaks your arms and neck. Avoiding, or minimizing, these injuries comes down to something quite simple: preparation. It’s about strengthening these areas through cross-training exercises, and bringing a certain mindfulness to your body’s relationship to your bike.
When setting out to improve your cycling style and strengthen your body against potential injury, it’s good to start with what not to do. The pros recommend to avoid a few common mistakes: bobbing your upper body, bouncing up and down on the saddle, or spreading your knees or elbows outwards. Many cyclists are prone to these destructive tendencies, both on the road and in spinning classes.
One of our core tenets when it comes to improving form and avoiding injuries in high-intensity sports like cycling is...start with the core. A strong core will not only help you increase your speed, but will be essential for assuming a healthy, powerful position on the bike itself.
A simple, no-frills exercise that will bring a bit of fire to your core is a plank, and variations thereof (i.e. side planks). Our plank walk sequence is a gentle flow practice that can be intensified by an extended interval in the plank position. More core exercises you can complete at home with just a mat as equipment are power bridges—a bridge pose with a brief hold—, scissor kicks, v-crunches or Russian twists, and superman pose.
Bringing awareness to potential injury zones, like the ones referred to above, is also an important step. This involves strength exercises: such as slow squats for your lower back, or pushups and pullups for your wrist and arms. But perhaps even more important to a cyclist’s cross-training habits are routines that improve flexibility as well as muscle tone.
Flexibility is, as is also the case with running, an often overlooked necessity of a strong cycling performance. As Simon Richardson, a retired, elite British cyclist, says in a Global Cycling Network Video entitled, tellingly, “How To Look More Pro On A Bike,” a crucial factor that, “has a bearing on your comfort and position on the bike is your flexibility.”
Take the next step to better cycling
Yoga is a gold mine of stretches for cycling’s problem zones of the lower back, upper body, and knees. Cobra, cat-cow, bridge, garland, reclined twist: these are all poses primed for your cycling toolkit. They address all of cycling’s tricky regions—sometimes, all at the same time. Sun salutations, which target your back, as well as your arms and shoulders, bring further integrity to your posture on your bike, while also easing tensions in your upper body.
As with any cross-training routine, make sure to listen to your body. Perhaps your physique is more susceptible to lower back pain, or is weak at the knees. Knowing your vulnerable spots, rather than ignoring them and pushing through, makes you the stronger athlete—as long, that is, as you also put in the work! The Asana Rebel app is loaded with routines and exercises that target specific muscle groups and health concerns, making this work straightforward and accessible.
With these tips in mind, and a few new exercise routines under your belt, watch as your flexibility improves, and your posture and speed will quickly follow. Keep cycling and let us know if our tips have helped!
The Asana Rebel app is an excellent tool to help you reach and achieve your health and fitness goals. For your physical health, the app is filled with more than 200 workouts that you can do from anywhere in the world and no equipment is required. For improving your mental wellbeing you can find mindfulness, meditation, sleep podcasts and nutrition advice.
No wonder 10 million users around the world have stopped wasting money on the gym and started investing in yoga-inspired fitness. Asana Rebel does it the right way.