The Dysfunctional Road CyclistNew Member, Cody Vitt
Muscular imbalance is pronounced in most cyclists that do not cross train, but have you ever asked why? The position you ride in, the form you use, and the inherent process of riding causes these imbalances. Most people at some time will have to deal with tight calves, overly worked quadriceps and hip flexors. Also, one may deal with neck pain, shoulder problems as well as wrist hand problems. All these issues put together lead to one, biomechanically speaking, dysfunctional person. No matter your form, eventually one of these will present as a problem due to the repetitive motions one encounters while riding. These biomechanical alterations can progress to larger, more complex problems, such as pelvic imbalance and low back pain. But how can one fix these problems; through cross-training with other sports and different exercises and stretches.
The two biggest problems I commonly see with cyclists are overly tight and short quadriceps and hip flexors; as well as de-conditioned mid-back muscles. However, there are easy remedies to these problems. Just performing stretches to your quads and hip flexors will not completely solve the problem. When a muscle is overly tight, it is a way of protecting an area of dysfunction. The true problem may lay with your hamstrings and glutes, known also as the hip extensors; however, using a combination of stretching the hip flexors while strengthening the extensors will allow for proper balance between these groups. De-conditioned back muscles are fairly common to today’s society, and not something specific to cycling. With over-active pectoral muscles and weakened back muscles, a person develops anterior rolled shoulders. Not only can this cause pain in the neck and shoulders, but can possibly lead to compression of the nerves, arteries, and veins in the area. This is easily corrected with rowing exercises and stretches, working the back muscles while stretching the pectorals.
Cross-training with other sports also can be beneficial for your cycling and not just pain reduction. Different sports stress the body in different ways, this allows for muscles to develop in a balanced relationship with one another. This also can prevent over training certain muscle groups, thus leading to repetitive injuries. So take a break from the bike every once and awhile and try a new sport or activity. Swimming, running, hiking, skiing, or whatever you like. This will make you not only a stronger rider, but a more balanced one.
Cody Vitt, DC, ART
Rock Tape Provider
Northeast Chiropractic Center
Colorado Springs, CO