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Sports & Pilates Series…Cycling

Cycling - image from active.com

We know many of our clients are also keen cyclists, so this latest blog in our series showing you how Pilates can assist training, is dedicated to you. Our teacher, personal trainer and spinning trainer, Jo Evans, explains all:

Whether on-road, off-road or spinning, cycling can cause postural issues like rounded shoulders, called kyphosis, and neck strain, as well as tight hamstrings, hip flexors and ITB (the iliotibial band). It can also lead to lower-back stiffness and over-worked legs. The core and the upper body are generally underworked on the bike, but actively recruiting these areas can actually alleviate the typical problems I’ve just described.

Each Pilates movement requires correct pelvic alignment, plus the deep core muscle, the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor are also engaged. Learning and sticking to these principles in our body’s structure mean that Pilates exercises, whether they strengthen or stretch, can improve posture and relieve pain as well as help to develop a more refined cycling technique.

Cyclists who regularly attend Pilates classes with movements that are aimed to strengthen the weak areas and stretch the tight areas in their legs, should see their ‘pedal power’ and overall biomechanics increase over time. This is due in part to performing the exercises on a weekly basis and thanks to building a stronger core, which provides a platform to push against and in turn, stabilises the rider to improve balance.

Those who ride for long distances will generally be most susceptible to lower back pain as well as rounded shoulders, so it’s important to focus on Pilates exercises that both strengthen and mobilise the thoracic (middle) and lumber (lower) spine areas, to try and combat any fatigue after those marathon rides!

It’s generally true for most cyclists, whether outside or in a spin studio, that a stretching set after the ride is often a shorter process than it should be. We’ve either got to clean our bikes or leave the studio. Prioritising cross-training with Pilates will demonstrate the benefits of allocating more time to stretching after cycling and also after any other kind of training too.

Finally, the correct lateral thoracic breathing technique which is adopted in Pilates and brings the breath deep into the thoracic cavity, leads to more efficient breathing patterns, better rhythm and consequently improved endurance and/or performance.

To talk to one of us about how Pilates can help you and your cycling activities, please get in touch by email, phone or on Facebook, and we’ll happy answer your questions or discuss things in your next class in Farnham or Hampton Wick.