Once upon a time I fell in love with riding my bike. It didn't take long for me to start pushing myself to be faster and ride farther. Within a year I couldn't fit into any of my “skinny jeans” but that didn't matter because my muscles were stronger and I was much more fit. I was in love with the endurance race scene and spent as much time as I could on my bike.
It all came to a sudden halt during a local 12-hour race. One minute I was feeling great and a few hours later my knee started to feel sore. By the end of the race I could barely pedal across the finish line. It took a few days before I could walk pain free and even worse was the worry that I wasn't going to be able to do what I love most, ride my bike.
My doctor sent me to an orthopedic surgeon who spent about 15 minutes with me. He told me that my IT band was inflamed and I should just stop riding for a while. Needless to say I went home in tears. The thought of not being able to ride my bike made me incredibly sad and disappointed as I was going to miss out on several races I had been training hard for.
Then I was introduced to Dr. Jason Ross, a local chiropractor and strength coach from Train Out Pain. While he was able to provide instant relief with ART therapy (Active Release Technique), it was clearly obvious that there was an underlying issue that needed to be solved. I was quad dominant from riding my bike ALL OF THE TIME, but a lot of my other muscles were underdeveloped. As a result my hips would fatigue and I couldn't stabilize well. Some muscles were too tight, others were doing all the work, and my arm muscles were practically non-existent. In summary, I was a mess.
From that point on I've been lucky to have Jason as my strength coach. I still get ART therapy on a regular basis, but over the last couple of years I've been doing exercises to help build my overall strength. Having a balanced/strong body means more muscles working in harmony and less chance of developing an overuse injury. During the next few months I'll be sharing ten different exercises that I do with Jason on a regular basis. The best part about them is that most can be done with a few simple weights and in your own home.
Walk & Crawl For Better Biking
If you are like most of the bikers I know you love to bike. It is your main hobby and (for some of the truly lucky) maybe even your profession. Either way, you have a passion for bicycling. I've never met anyone that “kind of” likes to ride. You either love the bike or you don't.
Love begets time commitment. Time in one position, bent over the handlebars for hours, daily, can create some serious postural adaptations that left unaddressed may cause discomfort down the road and possible injury. Fortunately there are exercises that can be done to avoid, or remedy, this problem. A huge bonus is that doing the series of workouts that I’m sharing here will increase performance on the bike. Healthy and fast are a great combination!
The exercises we are sharing here are designed to strengthen up the muscles that get neglected when bicycling, but also maintain improved biking as the primary goal. If only the muscles that produce force on the bike stay strong, eventually they will continue to tighten and power will be lost. The worst-case scenario is that biking leads to lower back pain or knee pain.
Using proper lifting technique, pick up something manageable in each hand and walk. Simple right? Simple doesn't mean easy! It forces you into a strong postural position that happens to be the exact opposite of your biking position. One tip is to “Squeeze your armpits.” This builds up your trunk stability. The abdominal corset and gluteal muscles will get stronger along with your grip. Work up to a weight that is challenging to carry for 30 to 40 yards.
Something magical happens when we get down on all fours. The body reverses in the stability/mobility continuum. This will strengthen the shoulder girdle and keep the spine moving. The bike is notorious for creating thoracic (mid-back) rigidity. It is also a great core exercise. Bear Crawl for about 20 yards.
Putting These Into Practice
These excercises should be done in combination; first one, followed immediately by the other.
Grab something in your hands and walk 20 yards, turn around and return. Drop down on all fours and crawl forward for 20 yards, then crawl backwards to your original starting point. This is one set. Take a one minute rest and repeat three to five times depending on your fitness level.
Implementing this combo into some of your preseason or offseason workouts will not only improve strength but will also increase mobility.
Keep your eye on the Salsa Culture blog for more exercises that will benefit your cycling in the coming months.
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These are a few of my favorite things: Mountain biking, good coffee, good food, and hanging out with my husband, family and adopted greyhound. It really doesn't take much to make me happy. Of course, winning a race every now and then is good too! www.daniellemusto.blogspot.com