I know there are a lot of you cardio junkies out there who love to be out in the fresh air cycling and running and really struggle to do any other form of training other than the part you love. Tough! I love gym work but know for my heart and lungs I need to get out there and get breathless and you know once you have a good program and see the progression you actually start to enjoy it especially if it is improving overall perfomance.
So reviewing cycling: Long periods of time spent in the hunched- over cycling posture results in prolonged back flexion and muscle pain for the untrained lower back.The lower back region houses the main muscle group responsible for producing power and bicycle movement control. Having an unconditioned back with inflexible muscles will result in strain, fatigue, and eventually, pain.
The relation between the bicycle’s virtual top tube length and the quantity of spinal flexion the cyclist’s back is subjected to is one of the keys to determining how back pain develops. Excessively low handlebars will cause too much lordosis or flexion of the back, which in turn puts stress on the lumbar spine. On the other hand, a very short top tube length will result in flexing of the sacral spine, subjecting the intervertebral disks to additional pressure. By making correct measurements of the top tube length in relation to the height of the handlebars will lower the incidence of back pain, as explained below.
A cyclist also has to consider the position of their pelvis. An incorrect pelvic position can strain the back muscles and result in pain. Without the proper conditioning, tight quadriceps can cause the pelvis to tilt forward, while tight hamstrings slant the pelvis backward. The amount of flexibility of the hip flexors can be determined by the Thomas test,find a trainer or Physio to check you over with the Thomas test.
The effort in pedalling, particularly uphill, is the reason for fatigue in the muscle group of the glutes and hamstrings. This causes a backward sloping of the pelvis, thereby straining the back muscles, again resulting to pain. It is essential to maintain strong stomach muscles for a more stable pelvic bearing. To achieve this, a combination of strength training for the core muscle group, and stretching of the legs,calves and ankles will not only aid in pelvic stability, but also produce a more efficient cycling ability.
I will be posting a flexibility and core strengthening program in the New Year to help with these issues.