Super active quadriceps, strong hamstrings and monster gluteal muscles are what propel a road bike across pavement. Just take a look at the lower bodies of famed cyclists such as Lance Armstrong or Cadel Evans and you will see some serious power pent up in their legs. In professional racers, the contractibility of muscle fibers is beyond efficient, and the speed at which they fly up steep grades is unimaginable.
While we may not boast the title of ‘Tour de France winner,’ we can still enjoy trying our best in a local bike race or just having fun while riding along our neighborhood bike path. Either way, nursing our well-used legs is of great importance. Post ride or race, ice and massage are crucial for speed of recovery, and so is yoga.
The following yoga poses are superbly beneficial to anyone who enjoys spending time in the saddle, i.e. the bicycle seat.
You might as well call this ‘cyclist’s lunge,’ as it is helpful for runners and riders alike. With the front knee directly over the ankle and the back leg stretched as far back as possible (toes on the ground) the psoas muscle receives a lovely stretch for restoration of length and suppleness. In cycling, the psoas muscle is responsible for bringing the knee forward at the top of the pedal stroke, as well as keeping the pelvis stable while pedaling.
Tight hips can tug on the low back and this could lead to major discomfort after just a few minutes in the saddle. Pigeon pose is a splendid way to release tension and allow for a greater range of motion in the lower body; two much needed elements for cycling success and comfort.
Standing Forward Bend
Many folks think the quads are the main muscle used in cycling. While the quads definitely get a workout, it is the hamstrings that give riders a leg up on their speed. Pulling the pedals up and around requires hamstring strength and contractibility, but this can result in perpetually stiff legs if not attended to properly. Standing forward bends are the most direct way to stretch the hamstrings. People with low back issues should bend their knees in this pose.
Rhythm is not a requirement for dancer pose, but a little bit of balance is, however. While standing on one foot, reach for the instep of the opposite foot. Keep both knees aligned at first. This should feel extraordinarily well after a long ride. Stay in this position as long as needed, and then tip forward from the hips while moving your heel further away from your back.
Practice these yoga poses before and after each ride, and you will be amazed at how good your lower body will look, feel, and perform on your bicycle.
May 9th, 2012