By Todd J. Cruz, PT, MS, Director
The importance of choosing the right equipment is an essential part of performance and injury prevention for any sport. Whether it’s the latest moisture-wicking apparel, custom shoes, or the right bike, it is important to match the equipment to your specific needs. This is especially true when it comes to the fit of your bike. While we always try to obtain the optimal ergonomic positioning on the bike, the reality is that sometimes we must compromise this position to enhance performance or accommodate for asymmetry in our body. Your Physical Therapist is capable of identifying muscle imbalances in strength or flexibility that may hold you back or set you up for breakdown. A professional bike fit by someone who understands anatomy, joint biomechanics, and the sport of cycling will not only customize your bike to your body, but can also establish a program to help you reach your cycling goals.
These exercises address some of the commonly seen strength and flexibility problems that prevent cyclists from assuming the cycling posture they desire, without tissue breakdown that leads to injury. Try these and talk to your Physical Therapist about how to optimize your cycling potential. Keep the rubber side down!
Sitting on edge of a curb or stretching post, place one leg in a long sit position, and obtain a stretch by leaning forward at the hips. Maintain a straight back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.
Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground and tighten your abdominals so that your hips remain stable on the floor and your back doesn’t arch or flatten as you move your extremities. While maintaining the tension in your abdominal muscles, simultaneously straighten one leg and raise the opposite arm overhead. Then lift the straight leg up until the heel is 6-12 inches off the floor. Keep your stomach muscles tight as you lower it back down and then return it to the start position. Repeat this with the other leg (extend leg, lift leg, lower leg, return to start position). Slowly build from 1 set of 10 reps to 3 sets of 10 reps.
Opposite Arm/Leg Lift
Lie on your abdominal region across the seat of a chair. Keep your abdominal muscles tight. Begin with your hands and toes touching the floor to keep your balance. Raise your opposite arm and leg to maintain straight alignment. Slowly build from 1 set of 10 progressing to 3 sets of 10 reps.
As always, these exercises should not cause any pain. The sooner an injury is addressed the shorter the duration of the condition. Physical Therapists are experts in addressing muscle imbalances and their role in the performance of the body.