As we all know, regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve the immune system response. It is especially important to exercise now when our immune function is so important and stress levels may be at an all-time high. Bicycling is a great way to exercise while practicing social distancing, especially as the weather begins to warm. However, bicycling, like any repetitive movement, can lead to aches and pains or even injury if not counterbalanced by other movements.
The position our body is in while cycling--flexion of the spine, with the head forward--can lead to neck and back pain if not counterbalanced. The movement of pedaling can lead to overuse of the hip flexors and quadriceps, especially if the bicycling shoes are clipped onto the petals. This can lead to back and hip pain, and contribute to injuries in areas both above and below the hips and pelvis. The flexed position of cycling also can lead to tension through the whole muscle, fascia, and neural system of the back body.
A simple yoga practice to perform in conjunction with your bicycling is described below. This can be performed either after cycling or on alternate days when you are not cycling. This practice is great cross-training for cycling, reducing aches and pains possibly even reducing the risk of injury.
Cat/Cow - move the spine along with the breath in order to improve spinal flexibility and improve present moment awareness during your practice
Anjaneyasana (low lunge) - draw the navel towards the spine and squeeze the buttock muscles to increase the effectiveness of this stretch on the hip flexors
Anjaneyasana (low lunge) with quad stretch - bend the knee and reach for the ankle with your hand or a strap to access the quadriceps muscles
Downward facing dog - bend the knees in order to reduce the pressure on the pelvis if the hamstrings are tight
Cobra - keep the hands grounded and shoulder blades drawing together, keep the abdomen on the ground if you would like to emphasize upper back mobility
Reclined hand to big toe pose - use a strap or towel to reach the foot if needed
Reclined twist - bring the arms out to the sides in order to stretch through the upper extremities, reducing arm tension related to cycling
Michelle Downing, DPT, OCS, CFMT, RYT
Michelle is a Physical Therapist and Yoga Teacher at Evolution PT & Yoga in Burlington, VT. Evolution now offers both physical therapy telehealth and yoga online to stay connected and be of service. Michelle’s weekly class offerings include Yoga Therapeutics and Loving Kindness Meditation. To register for an online class and see our full class schedule visit evolutionvt.com/yoga-schedule.
Questions about physical therapy? Email [email protected].