Apart from swimming, cycling is one of the most recommended exercises for people with knee and lower back problems. However, like any other sports, prolonged cycling may also result in unwanted pain and injury.
It is extremely important to get your bike fitted according to your body. But even with a proper fit, your muscles can get imbalanced and overused after an extended time. The major muscles used when we cycle are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. When overused, these muscles can become hypertrophied (strong) and shortened.
For that reason, multi-discipline sport such as triathlon which includes swimming and running that uses other muscle groups would help balance things out. On top of that, other important exercises such as strength training, yoga and Pilates would be highly beneficial too.
We were told to not to round our back whenever we sit. But when we cycle, we are doing exactly just that. Our constant bent-knees and rounded back posture during long hours of cycling can also trigger common pains. Hence, I am going to share some essential exercises and stretches that you can do at home after every ride, which addresses common pain related to prolonged road cycling and also to help maintain a healthy posture.
- Looking up while cycling can place a lot of stress at the back of the neck. As a result, most people will complain of neck and shoulder pain.
To relieve the pain, do the following exercises:
- Neck Extensor Stretch
Place your hands behind your head and gently pull your chin towards your chest to stretch the back of your neck. Hold the position for approximately 30-60 seconds.
2. Neck Strengthening Exercise
Interlock your fingers and place your hands in front of your forehead. Push your head forward as you push your hands towards your head, to provide some form of resistance. Do it gently and hold the flexed position for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 6-10 times.
- Our chest can become tight from our rounded back which could cause soreness at the mid back area.
To relieve the pain, do the following exercises:
3. Chest Stretch
Clasp your hands behind your back and lift it away from your back to feel the stretch at your chest. Tilt your hips by tucking your tailbone to avoid straining your lower back.
4. External Shoulder Rotation Exercise
Lie down sideways on the floor. Support your head with your arm and grab a light dumbbell with the other arm. Externally rotate by lifting the dumbbell away from your body while keeping your elbows tucked by your ribs. Perform 10-15 reps with 2-3 sets on each arm. You should feel the back of your shoulders working with this exercise.
5. Praying Stretch
Find a bench or a stool and place your elbows on top of it. On your knees, slowly push your butt towards the heels while maintaining a neutral arch at your spine. At he same time, push your chest down towards the floor and feel the stretch at your mid back. Remember to keep your shoulder blades firm and away from your ears.
6. Mini Cobra
Lie down and support your upper body with your elbow. Relax the hips and allow it to sink. You should feel the stretch at your abs and hips. Stop if you feel a sharp pain at your lower back
- Developing tight hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves from cycling can also mean trouble for your lower back and knee.
Here are some essential exercises that you can do for them.
7. Hip Flexor Stretch
At a lunge position, tuck your tail-bone by rotating your hips. You should feel the stretch at the upper thigh area.
9. Quads Stretch
Grab on to your foot and pull the heels towards your butt to stretch the quads.
10. Hamstring Stretch
Square your hips towards a stool or a bench and place one foot on top. Maintain a neutral spine and gently lean forward. Engage your quads to get a deeper stretch at your hamstring.
11. Glute/IT Band Stretch
Sit on a chair and cross your leg. Gently pull your knee towards your body to stretch the glutes.
12. Calf Stretch
13. Soleus Stretch
Place your hands on a wall and put one foot backward. Push the heel downwards the floor with a straight leg to stretch the calves. Later, bend the back knee and push the heel downwards to stretch the soleus.
If your condition persists or worsens, please contact your physician or healthcare provider.
About the Author
Ke Wynn is a certified personal trainer by ACE, specializing in corrective exercise and sports injury, and also a certified deep tissue sports massage therapist. He was given the prestigious and internationally recognized award as “The BioMechanics Corrective Exercise Specialist” of the Year 2018 for his commitment and success in helping his clients to live a pain-free and functional life. He is a strong advocate of staying active and eating right through education. Ke Wynn struggled with weight issues during his teens but managed to overcome them through exercise. Since then, he has successfully completed major triathlons, half-marathons, cycling events and obstacle races in his early 30’s.
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