Photo: lululemon athletica via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at Marilyn@MountainPedals.net, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.
The following question was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).
Avoiding "Cyclist's Posture"
A physical therapist recently told me she has treated cyclists with flexibility issues. I have looked at the folks in my cycling club and noticed people walking as if they were still on a bike. Shoulders hunched over and knees bent during strides. Also there hip joints don't seem to straighten out during walking. I am 63 years old and ride about 150 miles a week and will increase that to prepare for the El Tour de Tucson. How can I avoid this happening to me? Are there excercises, stretching or perhaps Yoga poses that would help?
Good of you for noticing the cycling inflicted posture of your club mates – and wanting to avoid it yourself. I’m assuming they are walking this way not because they are still hobbling around in their cycling cleats, but because of muscle overuse and tightness. You can avoid that stature by working on your flexibility and posture. Virtually all cyclists have postural imbalances due to specific repetitive use and tight quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower backs. Start by working on those muscle groups.
For a basic routine after cycling, hold each of these stretches for at least 30 seconds:
This routine should take about 8 minutes.
Then, 2-3 times a week, take 20-30 minutes to do strengthening and stretching. Here’s where I suggest you get one-on-one help. The purpose is to strengthen the muscles you use in cycling, but also to balance them with the muscles that you use less. A good practitioner will evaluate your muscle use, prescribe exercises, and progress you through them. You’ll likely do core isolating exercises. It’s worth the time and money to get these moves right. You’ll also learn a repertoire of pilates, yoga, use of fit balls, inner tubes, medicine balls, kettle bells, etc. The variety keeps it fun and continually stimulates your musculature system.
Finally, add a simple item that I wish I had acquired much sooner – the foam roller. This cylinder that you roll on helps prep muscles for workouts and releases them afterwards to aid recovery. It helps manage illiotibial band tightness too. I can’t believe I waited so long to try it.
Keep in mind that it could take a while for you to be able to complete some of the movements. It took me a good six months to be able to complete one set of “wall angels” with the correct form. I was also surprised at how gentle I needed to make the stretches when beginning work on a neglected muscle group. Even with a stretching routine and extra strength and stretch sessions 2–3 times per week, you might still need massage, chiropractor, physiotherapy or acupuncture (or all of the above!) Just don’t wait to address a problem areas or it could turn into an injury.
Your body will benefit from working to keep your posture aligned. Your cycling will improve with more flexible muscles too. You’ll avoid injury and recover better. It doesn’t matter your age or whether you are a beginner or a pro, your muscles need to be stretched back to a more relaxed position after use.
I’ll stretch to that!