Cycling is fantastic for you – it’s a great way of getting exercise without pounding your joints and since it’s not weight bearing, cyclists generally get fewer injuries than runners. However, many bike riders still suffer from the odd niggle, and Yoga can definitely help.
Yoga can benefit cyclists through:
Stretching out tight muscles
Bending over the handlebars for extended period of time, and the repetitive action of pedalling can sometimes lead to discomfort which is easily remedied with a good stretching session.
Areas cyclists tend to suffer with the most are the lower back, hamstrings, quads and IT bands.
Building core strength
It isn’t uncommon for one leg to be stronger than the other, leading to overuse of the stronger leg, and even a slight twist in the pelvis. Regular Yoga encourages realignment of any in-balances by having you work your entire body equally. Every exercise is repeated on each side, and any rotation in the pelvis or spine can be addressed through stretching.
Exercises work the entire body, from the ankles, to glutes, hamstrings, quads, core and upper body and stronger legs will provide more power with every pedal stroke.
Putting weight through weak arms can also lead to fatigue, especially over long rides or over climbs, and many poses build upper body and core strength which can address this.
Providing time to switch off
This one applies to everyone, not just cyclists. Yoga gives you a chance to concentrate on your body, forgetting daily concerns. Most Yoga sessions end with a short meditation, or Savasana – this is simply a moment of quiet and calm which can make the rest of the day seem much more managable.
Here’s a look at some of the key poses that benefit cyclists…
The pictures below come from Kelly Brooks, who teaches Yoga in Clapham on Tuesday and Thursday and Vauxhall on Wednesday
The Downward Facing Dog is fantastic for stretching from your ankles to your lower back, as well as building strength in the upper body which can help with climbing.
Much like a traditional squat, the Chair works your glutes, quads and hamstrings. However, as your feet are close together, you also put more emphasis on ankle and lower leg strength, as well as stretching your arms, shoulders and upper back, which can become tense from bending over handlebars.
The Warrior 1 post is a perfect example of combining a stretch with a strength exercise – opening out the hip flexors, but asking the leading leg to work hard to support your weight.
These are just four of many, many poses – many of which are fantastic for anyone, cyclists included. Though you can often find images of Yoga poses online, they are usually strung together in a sequence, and attending a class will allow you to enjoy the fluid movement from one to another.
Do any London Cyclist readers attend Yoga regularly, or perhaps do any similar activity?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.