Do you like to cycle? If you live in Kelowna there’s a good chance you own a bike and are familiar with the various gran fondos and triathlons that take place in the Okanagan.
Recently I sold my car and needing something else to commute I thought I’d pick up a road in the meantime. I went for a road bike over a mountain bike for a few reasons. One was that we live on a hill and going home at the end of the day is a lot easier on a 16 pound versus a 40 pound bike. Plus the speed of road cycling is definitely appealing.
So I picked up a Kestrel Legend and love it! Whenever I plan morning rides with friends I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and start getting dressed thinking it’s time to go. Nevermind the fact it can been anywhere from 1230-330 am and pitch black outside. I’m ready to go riding.
But as I ease into to this sport I am noticing a few things I will need to tweak with my training. And if you’re into riding as well these may help you also.
1. Stretch my hips
When you’re riding your hips are flexed. Other than the fact your knee and ankle are moving the hips are in a fairly constant position of flexion. So to balance this out will mean extra timing with the lacrosse ball, foam roller and hip stretching in general.
While on a ride I will stand on pedal and drive my hips forward to the handle bars as much as possible. I’ll hold that position for as long as I can and is safe to do so before switching legs. Just this simple drill provides some relief to my hips on long rides.
2. Strengthen my glutes
To work the glutes typically involves extending the hips forward. Think of a kettlebell swing or a deadlift where you push the hips back and then contract the glutes to drive the hips forward into extension. Obviously this doesn’t happen a lot when riding. I’m going to make sure to add in some more kettlebell swings and deadlifts to maintain some shape and strength to my backside.
And in terms of planning out my lifts around my training I am playing around with hinging movements, such as squats and deadlifts, prior to rides, and knee dominant exercises ,such as squats, after rides. This makes sense when you look at riders and notice they have big quads and flat butts.
3. Open up my chest and shoulders
When you’re in the riding position the hands are in front of the body. Further if you have your hands on the tops of the handlebars they will be in a pronated position. When you consider the upper crossed posture exhibited by many desk jockeys you can quickly see how this can be made worse with riding. Add to that the upward tilt of the head and loss of arch in the low back and you may have a prescription for terrible posture.
Top level strength Dan John, who spoke at the 3rd Annual Okanagan Strength & Conditioning Conference, uses a movement called the Stoney stretch which is great for addressing each of these issues.
To do the Stoney stretch you grab the handles of a suspension trainer and walk away from the point of attachment. The attachment should be above your head. As you walk out with your arms parallel to the ground you will begin to feel a stretch at the chest and shoulders. At this point separate the feet into split stance. Ensure the big toe of the back foot is in extension. Drive this big toe into the ground. Squeeze the glutes on this same side. Keep the chest tall and press forward gently. Ensure the head stays neutral and breath naturally.This will help open up the chest and shoulders, stretch the hips and quads and strengthen the glutes.
If you are cycling make sure to give these three tips a try to ensure you maintain proper posture and recover more quickly from your rides.