Functional Exercises For Cyclists?

With your Struggle sportive training miles beginning to ramp up, January is the perfect time to assess your functional movement. A fully functioning cyclist avoids injury during high training volume and is more powerful, efficient, and firing with full force. 

In association with FMS Yorkshire Based Expert Byron Spence, we’re bringing you five simple exercises to assess your functional movement. 

 

 

1. Part One: Can you touch your toes?!

Problem: Touching your toes is a very basic functional movement - but one many cyclists fail at. Inability to touch your toes is the alarm bell for potential back problems on the bike and neurological inhibitions. To assess full postural range the assessment needs to be done standing - not sitting. 

Treatment: Improve your postural range with this key exercise. 

Exercise: Toe Touch

When: 5 reps once a day

How: Check out the video above or follow these simple steps

a. Raise your toes off the floor with a block or a book

b. Place a small ball, like a tennis ball, between your knees

c. Reach up, then with straight legs try to touch your toes

d. Squeeze the ball between your legs and hold

e. Soften the legs, gently bending the knees to allow your fingers to touch your toes

 

2. Part Two: Are your hip flexors holding you back?

Problem: Have you ever finished a long ride, stepped off your bike and struggled to straighten up? The repetitive pedalling motion when cycling causes a tightening of the hip flexors, which pulls the hips forward to cause postural problems and back pain. Loosening off the hip flexors will allow your back to sustain a low and aero position for longer periods - in turn increasing your speed and efficiency. 

Treatment: Loosen tight hip flexors with a simple exercise each day. 

Exercise: Hip Flexor Stretch

When: 1 rep per leg each day

How: Check out the video above or follow these simple steps

a. Assume a lunge position with your back leg against the wall

b. Squeeze your Glutes and push your hips forward

c. Slowly straighten up 

d. Use something to steady yourself

 

3. Part Three: How engaged are your glutes?

Problem: Our Glutes are a large powerful muscle worth taking full advantage of. But cycling causes our Glutes to lengthen and become inhibited. Coupled with tight hip flexors (which we talked about in part 2) and we're asking for postural imbalances. Inactive Glutes also rely on power from the quads and stability provided by the hips and core, which can in turn cause injury. With fully firing Glutes, think how powerful you can be. 

Treatment: Straight after lengthening the hip flexors (see part 2) carry out these Glute activation exercises.

Exercise: Single Leg Glute Bridges

When: 3 x 10 reps on each leg

How: Check out the video above or follow these simple steps

a. Lay on the floor with your feet at your bottom

b. Bring one knee to your chest

c. Squeeze your Glutes and raise your hips to the ceiling

d. Use your hand to stimulate your Glutes further

 

4. Part Four: Are you foam rolling - properly?

Problem: Foam rolling is a simple, cost-effective, at-home way to relieve tight muscles and can save you £££ in massage bills. Optimise your foam rolling techniques on these four problem areas: Calf, IT Band, Quads and back.

Treatment: Relive tight muscles 

Exercise: Foam rolling Calf, IT Band, Quads and back

When: 1-2 minutes on each side for each exercise

How: Check out the video above

 

5. Part Five: Do you have a dysfunctional trunk?

Problem: Believe it or not, a strong core is a vital requirement of a cyclist. The core helps with power delivery and stability on the bike. With a strong core we are able to transfer maximum power through the pedals and waste little energy through the upper body. 

Treatment: Improve core strength and stability 

Exercise: Planking 

When: 2-3 minutes each day

How: Check out the video above 

 


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