How to stay injury free from cycling

February 26, 2019 5 min read

How to stay injury free from cycling

Riding your bike for fitness is a great choice, you get fresh air and sunshine, can socialise or go solo and you can take your bike just about anywhere in the world to see the sights under your own power. 

Bike fitness alone is limited, you don’t move your whole body, so many of your muscles miss out on a workout. You also stay in the same position for long periods, meaning you place stress and strain on your back, wrists and knees. Over long periods of time, or during times of endurance training or competition, you do risk injury if you haven’t taken the time to fully strengthen your body. 

If cycling is all you do, think about other physical activities you can participate in that will give your body an extended workout, swimming, jogging, rock climbing, basketball, martial arts, anything that you have a passion for, or you can simply add the exercises below to your weekly routine to stay fit and healthy and reduce injury from cycling strain. 

Even with these strengthening exercises always remember to warm up before a ride with targeted muscle stretches and cool down after your ride to avoid DOMS and related pain from strain and inflammation. Prevention is the best cure and the short time it takes to prepare your body before a ride is worth it if it means you save yourself the pain of two weeks off riding through injury. 

Complete this 20-minute workout twice a week to help prevent injury and improve performance on the bike through added stability and more core strength to hold an aerodynamic position. 

First set

1. Plank

This is best to do on a foam mat or towel.

Lay face down with your feet slightly apart and your elbows directly under your shoulders, your arms in line with your body. You want your arms to be tight against your body and elbows tucked in. 

Keeping your forearms pressed to the floor push your body up and hold yourself up in a straight line, resting on your toes and arms. You can have your hands clasped in the middle or straight, palms flat or in fists, depending on your endurance level. Suck your belly button into your spine to engage your core muscles. Hold this for 30-40 seconds.

Make sure your bottom is in line with your head and toes, try not to stick your hips up in the air, and remember to breathe. 

You will really feel this working your abdominals, glutes and quads. 

Rest for 20 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

2. Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Keeping your chest high and your head and arms straight, bend your knees and lower your body slowly down. Stick your bottom out as if you were going to sit down in a chair and continue to lower yourself until your thighs are at a 90-degree angle. You need to keep your weight on the heel of your foot to stay balanced. Keep your gaze out over your fingertips.

Slowly press up through your heels to a standing position.

Repeat 10 to 15 times then rest for 20 seconds before going to the next exercise.

3. Push-ups

With your arms straight, place your hands on a foam mat or towel just wider than the width of your shoulders, and your shoulders directly above your hands. Your lower weight will be supported on your toes. Keep your body in a straight line from shoulder to hip and hip to ankle as you bend your arms at the elbow, keeping your arms tight against your body. 

Continue to bend your elbow as you lower your chest until it almost touches the floor. Hold there for a second before pushing back up through your hands until your arms are straight again. Remember to keep your tummy sucked to your spine through this exercise.

Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times.

Rest for 20 seconds when you are done, then start the next exercise. 

4. Core twists

Sit on floor with your knees bent. Lean back on your buttocks until you are roughly at 45 degrees. Remember to keep your back nice and straight.

Hold both your hands in front of your chest and lift your legs up off the floor. Engage your core. 

Bring both arms to your right side, hands together, and touch the floor about at waist level. Keep your legs elevated and your balance strong as you twist to place your hands over to the left and touch the floor on the other side.

Repeat this motion 10 times. To really add some extra effort, do this with a medicine ball in your hands. 

5. Dead Lift

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a slight curve in your back. Keep your chest up and your knees slightly bent.

Engage your core and hinge at the hips, so you bend forward without moving your lower back. Bring your hands together in the centre and press them towards the floor. Slowly lower yourself further until you feel the pull in your hamstrings. Gently reverse the motion so you slowly rise to standing, using your hips and core as leverage. 

Repeat this motion 10 to 12 times. Rest for 20 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

6. Bridge

Lay on your back on a foam mat or towel. Bend your knees roughly 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the mat. Your arms should be straight at your sides, palms down. 

Press through your feet so your bottom lifts off the mat. You want to raise your hips up until they are in a straight line with your knees and shoulders. You should feel this one working your glutes and core, if not squeeze these muscles so they take the bulk of the load, rather than your back. Hold for a few seconds then relax your hips back to the mat.

Repeat 10 to 15 times and take a 20-second rest.

7. Split Squats

Start in a forward lunge position with your back leg raised on a bench or seat so your knee bends comfortably.

With your body upright and hips square bend the front knee to 90 degrees. You want your knee to be in line with your foot (not forward over your toes).

Keep your weight in your heel as you press back to a standing position. Repeat 10-12 times on one leg and then change and repeat on the other. 

Rest for 20 seconds before going back to the start (1. Plank) and repeating through all the exercises for your second set. 

The most important part of these exercises is positioning. Make sure you align your body so that you are supported and engage your core (suck your belly button in) to be sure you are getting the benefits you are working towards.

You should feel a burn, but no sharp or biting pain. If you feel any pain at all check your position in a mirror or get someone to spot you. If the pain continues even when your posture is correct stop doing the exercises and seek help from an allied sports professional, such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor. 

Staying injury free so you can spend more time doing the things you love? That’s freedom!

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