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.
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By Gale Tern
One of the best ways to lose weight and feel better is through exercise. Science tells us that regular exercise makes us healthier and increases our feelings of well-being. The release of chemicals within our bodies called endorphins is what induces that good feeling and even reduces our perception of pain. However, exercise sometimes comes with the price of soreness, aches and pain. But minor aches and pains should not prevent you from getting your workout on.
Here are some things you can do to prevent injury and the hurt that sometimes comes with exercise.
1. Drink plenty of purified water throughout the day before you start exercising. This will hydrate your body and reduce cramping and soreness during and after your routine.
2. Consume anti-inflammatory herbs and nutrients such as tart cherry juice, ginger, vitamin C, and turmeric. Try drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice before you exercise. You can dilute it with water if it is too tart. In addition, you can add anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger powder and turmeric to your favorite fish and chicken dishes.
3. Stay away from alcoholic beverages before you exercise. They can dehydrate you and lead to cramps and soreness.
4. Add one teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate not baking powder) to 8 ounces of water. Drink this mixture on an empty stomach at least one hour prior to exercise. Sports scientists learned several years ago that baking soda taken before athletic performances not only increased performance but reduced soreness and cramping afterwards. That’s because baking soda reduces lactic acid build-up in our muscles.
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Evan Longoria used yoga to rehab his left foot
Major League baseball players are coining the phrase “flexibility is the new strength” and adding yoga, stretching, and Pilates to their off season and spring training regimes. Baseball manager Joe Maddon said in 2007, when yoga was first introduced as an official part of the training program, that he expected yoga and stretching to soon be as mainstream as weight lifting for strength, and his assumption is now a reality.
The Devil Rays’ third basemen Evan Longoria is one player who first took yoga seriously as a way to find a little peace and contentment through the stressful baseball season. Needing to rehab his left foot, Longoria focused on functional movements and stability therapy, adding that doing yoga in a hot room for over an hour was no easy task, but also provided many benefits beyond peace of mind.
Many other baseball players have followed the lead of Longoria and used yoga or Pilates as part of their offseason training. Jimmy Rollins practiced yoga following an injury and went on to playing 142 more games after making a strong comeback. Jim Thome practiced both yoga and Pilates to better prepare his 41-year-old body for playing first base, and Alex Rodriquez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson have also reportedly added more flexibility to their training.
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Just like any hobby or interest, there’s a certain jargon to accompany and running is no exception. We speak in a foreign language at times. Runners will talk of BQs and PRs. We’ll discuss pronation, tempo pace, or Gu. Perhaps one of the oddest topics to dissect is when runners speak of their injuries. They may refer to their IT band or their need to go home and R.I.C.E.
We runners all can share a war story of an injury as the sport can demand a lot from the body. Next time you catch a runner slip into an obsolete vernacular about running injuries, here’s a heads up as to what they’re probably taking about.
Below is a list of some of the most common runner’s injuries. There seems to be an overarching theme behind the cause of most runner’s injuries: over-use, improper footwear, or lack of stretching.
1. Shin Splints
Shin splints are typically felt as a pain on the inside of the shin. Most splints are caused by a biomechanical flaw in one’s running gait, however many times a proper fitted shoe can correct those flaws. Other major culprits in the cause of shin splints is over training or overuse and tight calf muscles in need of stretching
2. Plantar Fasciitis
Often runners will refer to the annoying pain in their foot as PF. PF is a pain in the middle of the foot arch. Again, tight calf muscles are partly to blame. Other causes are an abnormal motion of the foot called excessive pronation. In long distance running the foot should strike the ground on the heel and roll forward to the toes and finally inward to the arch. If the arch dips too low excessive pronation is taking place and easily going to stress that tendon causing PF.
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A recent article published by the New York Times suggested the many ways yoga can wreck your body. While this is true, it is important to understand that injuries can be avoided. Without knowing much about yoga, especially the myriad ways yoga is practiced in our modern day society, one might read that article and take it as a reason to toss out their New Year’s resolution of trying a yoga class for the first time. But the reality is, yoga doesn’t do the body wrecking, you do, and it happens when you neither honor your limits nor trust in your abilities. Having a qualified yoga teacher also helps prevent needless wrecking and wrenching of our fragile bodies, but ultimately, we are our best teachers.
The bottom line is that with any type of physical activity we all must trust ourselves, our own inner teacher. There are times when it is appropriate to dig in a little deeper to move past self imposed limitations of movement, and there are times when it is completely acceptable to bow out of a pose or an exercise if it hurts. Also, no two styles of yoga are exactly the same. It is best to find one that fits your body type, rather than try to fit your body into a style that does not suit you.
While some yoga poses will be extremely inappropriate for you, some yoga poses are necessary to counter other poses in an effort to avoid muscle imbalance and instability. A qualified instructor will lead you in such a way that you have no choice but to listen to your body’s needs. You will know when too much is too much, and you will understand why some poses are needed to keep you aligned.
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