Physiotherapist and Marmot Tours Guide, Amanda Kemp, has put together a few Exercises for Cyclists that will improve your mobility and flexibility to help to prevent injuries and make your long days in the saddle even more enjoyable!
None of these exercises should cause pain, if they do check your technique and if there is no improvement stop doing the exercises and speak to a physiotherapist regarding any underlying problem that you may have.
Exercises for Cyclists
Segmental roll downs –
Roll down to the floor imagining you are moving one vertebrae on top of the next to form a smooth curve through your spine. Keep your knees soft, your weight forwards over the balls of your feet and relaxed arms (just let them hang which is hard!). Roll back up looking at your thighs until your head is the last thing to lift up and look forwards. Keep moving but slowly and repeat 5-10 times as you’ll feel yourself improve with more repetitions.
Scapula setting –
Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, draw them backwards and then relax. This allows your shoulder blade to move in the direction of the arrow as you relax. Don’t hold the position just do this intermittently during the day, but especially when sitting on your lap top!
Thoracic rotation –
Arms crossed sitting down rotate your body and head as far as you can and then immediately go the other way. Repeat at least 10 times keeping moving.
Cat exercise –
This is a good one to improve your spinal mobility especially after sitting all day. Move from one position to the next slowly about 10 times.
‘Threading a needle’ or Thoracic rotation –
Take your arm to the opposite side as far as you can to rotate your spine whilst keeping your hips still. Repeat side to side 10 times.
Sitting posture –
Think about sticking your bottom out behind you keeping your back still so the movement comes from your hips. You can repeat this as an exercise and squeeze your bottom muscles to stand but it is also good to sit down in your chair like this to improve your sitting posture.
Stretches for Cyclists
Hold all the stretches for 30 seconds and repeat twice on each side.
In lying keep your back flat to avoid it pressing into the floor and keep your head relaxed. Or in standing keep your back still – think about the sitting down exercise and the movement coming from your hips.
Calf and Plantar Fascia –
Do the first stretch with your trainers on as it is more comfortable than bare feet. You should feel the stretch under your foot and in the calf.
Quadriceps (thigh) stretch –
Keep upright, thinking about keeping your bent knee level with your opposite leg and pushing your hips forwards.
Foam roller for your ITB and glutes –
A foam roller is useful for those muscles and soft tissue that is hard to stretch.
Avoid rolling over the bony bits on your hip and knee but move up and down using your arms and bent leg to ‘massage’ the outside of your thigh. It should be uncomfortable! You can do this anywhere between 30 seconds and several minutes.
Gluteal muscles –
For your glutes (bottom muscles) start with your leg resting on top of the other one with your top foot at the level of your ankle then and as your flexibility improves you can bring your ankle up to your knee as the picture shows.
Frequency of Exercises
The more that you work on the exercises the quicker you will notice the changes. Once a day for the next 6 weeks will make a significant change but you can increase to twice a day when you have time or do more repetitions.
Strengthening exercises for Cyclists
If you have any problems I would suggest that you have a physiotherapy assessment but the exercise below is very good for most people, especially if you sit at work all day.
Remember your aim is to keep your spine still and only move from your hip joint so take care not to roll backwards. Start with 20 reps slowly up and back down. Then progress to tying theraband (stretch resistance bands) around your thighs but make sure you keep a good technique with the increased resistance.