The most common injuries for both dancers and bikers, other than physical ailments from falling, are due to overuse from movements repetitive in nature.
Practicing these movements while misaligned can be detrimental to the body, inhibiting one’s ability to reach their personal performance potential. Proper alignment is crucial while on the saddle.
Misalignment issues for bikers tend to start at the bottom, developing most commonly in the foot, knee and hip as a starting point. These areas may experience tightness and/or pain, leading to “biomechanical inefficiency” that contributes to loss of power and speed.
What’s the best thing you can do to prevent injury caused by misalignment and repetitive motions? Stretching.
Stretching regularly and improving flexibility is the key to riding faster and further on the bike. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine states:
“Tight hamstrings and/or hip flexor muscles can lead to rounding or arching your back, causing your neck to hyperextend. Stretching these muscles on a regular basis will create flexibility and make it easier to maintain proper form.”
By employing a routine stretch and flexibility routine utilizing active stretching techniques into your warm up and cool down, riders may prevent pending injury and strengthen the body while practicing proper alignment. Here are 10 stretches & exercises for bikers that aid in prevention and care:
*Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
1.) LATERAL BEND
With the strap overhead, slowly bend sideways at the waist, making sure that the top arm does not collapse toward your head, keeping the shoulders drawn down your back. Actively pull down the bottom arm, feeling a stretch throughout the side of your torso. Make sure to ground the sit bones as you bend sideways.
2.) TRICEPS STRETCH
Extend the top elbow until your arm is fully extended, and bend the elbow back down.
3.) ADDUCTOR/ABDUCTOR STRETCH
Draw your right knee into your chest and place the arch of your right foot on the center of the foam pad. Extend your right leg up towards the ceiling, straightening the right leg.
Adductor: Open the right leg towards the right shoulder, keeping the left hip firmly grounded, with the left leg actively pressing into the floor. Modify: Bend your supporting leg and place the foot flat on the ground.
Abductor: Pull the right leg across the body towards the left shoulder, making sure that both hips remain in place on the ground. Modify: Bend your supporting leg and place the foot flat on the ground.
4.) CALF STRETCH
Flex the right foot and gently pull down on the loops. Contract your right quadriceps to deepen the stretch.
Need to modify? Bend your supporting leg and place the foot flat on the ground.
5.) LUNGE (PSOAS STRETCH WITH ONE LOOP)
Position yourself in a lunge and take one loop and place it on the right foot. Lean forward into the lunge and pull the other end of the strap over your left shoulder with your left hand. Keep your right hand on the floor for support. Shift more weight into your front foot to feel a stretch in front of the leg and hip.
To deepen the stretch:
- Pull your right hip forward to align your pelvis parallel with your shoulders.
- Gently press the right foot back into the loop.
- Try this variation of the stretch: http://bit.ly/14iQwWN
Flex the right foot, and gently pull down on the loops, and contract your right thigh.
Forward fold over the lengthened leg while pressing into the Flexistretcher to deepen the stretch.
Without hinging back, pull your hands in toward you to lift the your leg up off of the ground, making sure that the foot is flexed and pressed long into the resistance
Forward fold, with your chest toward your thighs, as you pull on the straps to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30-60 sec.
10.) STANDING QUAD STRETCH (FLAMINGO)
Standing on the left leg, bend the right behind you and place the top of your right foot on the center of the foam pad with loops in your hands. Pull the straps away from you in front of your body, while slowly pulling back your knee.
Push forward with your right hip, keeping the front of your pelvis parallel with your shoulders. This helps bring the stretch through the full length of your quadriceps up to the hip flexors.