A little while ago, I wrote an article regarding the importance of core and glute strength in elite athletes; thank you very much for making it a big success, be on the watch for it to be published in MetCon (Formerly WodTalk) magazine in the coming months!
I was speaking to a cycling club, and we talked about the common injuries associated with cycling, and a lot of them came back to proper glute and hip control, so we decided to put an easy "how to" together for our Cycling friends. Much of this article can also be directly applied to the Running crowd, as the mechanism of injury is similar, just in a different position. You will see some crossover to our previous article, so don't be surprised, the concepts hold true. This was written more toward the everyday rider or runner as opposed to the elite lifting athletes prior. Hope you enjoy!
In the sports injury world, we see injuries on a daily basis that can be attributed to our favorite activities. Cycling is no different, but many times it may not be coming from the place you think!
A great number of cyclists have back pain or chronic leg injuries that plague them and make rides much less enjoyable, many can be traced back to poor hip strength and mobility. Riding a bike is a great way to build inner glute strength due to the pedal stroke, but did you know it actually lends itself to a major muscle imbalance with the outer glutes? These outer muscles are crucial in stabilizing the hip, powering a good pedal stroke, and controlling knee motion.
Due to the chronic forward flexed position, the hip flexors are never able to fully relax or go through full range of motion. This forward flexion is one of the primary causes of tight backs in bicycle clubs everywhere, but it’s definitely not the only thing!
To start let’s go through a few mobility tips that can make those long rides more enjoyable.
The pigeon stretch is incredibly useful to free up the back side of the hip and lumbar spine after riding and being flexed for an extended period. This will release the glutes, low back, IT band and even upper hamstrings, hold 1 minute each side, twice.
Calves are widely addressed in athletics, but there are 2 different stretches I recommend, the standard foot back, heel down; also foot against the wall and lean forward. Make sure you do both and watch your ankle mobility soar! Hold 30 seconds each side, twice.
After releasing those muscles it’s really important to rebuild strength is the stabilizers of your hips, this is what allows you to have a long and happy riding career. Let’s get to building those powerful hips! Doing 3 sets of 10 3-4 times per week will greatly improve your stability, push power, and help keep injuries at bay!
The Side Lying leg raise has long been a popular choice of Chiropractors and PT’s for a reason, IT WORKS! Lie down on your side, turn your toes down toward the floor and slowly raise and lower the top leg, keeping the toes down.
Bridges are a wonderful way to build strength and stability. So much of a pedal stroke is one sided, but don’t forget your pelvis has to be stable enough to resist those powerful pushes! Start with both legs on the ground and as it gets easier, raise one leg at a time keeping the hips level with the ground.
Planks are an essential part of building core strenth in athletes, being able to hold tight while breathing affects all aspects of a sport. Having a strong core will protect your back which by extension helps the rest of the body. Try starting with 30 seconds tightening your abs and doing normal breaths, as it gets easier progress to 60 and 90 seconds, repeat 3x
Squats are a total body workout, and because of this can be one of the most effective strengthening options for you legs, hips, and low back! These also force you to keep an upright chest which will help reinforce good posture after being on the bike for long periods. Be sure to tighten your core, keep your heels down, and make sure keep that chest up!
Obviously this is not a complete rehab protocol for all injuries, it’s not meant to be, but doing this short list of exercises and stretches can be vital in keeping you on the road and healthy for years to come. If any of these exercise cause pain or your injuries linger, I recommend finding a qualified healthcare provider to help you get back on the bike safely. I hope this can help a few of you improve your hips and make your rides that much more enjoyable! Ride safe everyone!
Dr. Doss is a Chiropractor in Lubbock, TX at Endurance Chiropractic and Sports Therapy. His passion for athletics and sports injuries drive him to help athletes prevent injury first, but also provide care that is fast, affordable, and effective, allowing people to remain in the sports they love. If you have an issue you need evaluated, feel free to call 806-785-7514