Keeping your body flexible and strong will help minimize your chance of injury in your lead up and during the ride.
While Cycling is quite a low impact activity, it is, however, inherently a mechanical and repetitive motion that’s quite foreign to your body’s normal movements. Also, it’s not uncommon for rides to last up to several hours so doing some general body maintenance will help your well-being and your riding.
If you have time, a weekly Pilates or yoga class will do your body wonders in helping it rebalance itself. If you don’t have the time or access to these classes, then simple stretches after you ride can help. It’s important to focus on your hip flexors and hamstrings as a minimum.
Myofascial trigger point therapy using a blue roller provides an excellent way to release your muscles before stretching and is highly recommended. You do this by massaging your muscles with a blue roller until you find a tender spot. Once you find one, use the roller to massage it gently, pausing on it for around 45 seconds while breathing deeply. You’ll find that the discomfort will diminish by about 50% to 75%. And if you are doing it right, you will feel the muscle release. The secret is to apply enough pressure to stimulate the releasing process but not too hard that you end up “protecting” or tensing the muscle up that you are trying to relax. Some discomfort is fine, but lots of pain is not. Legs, glutes, and arms all respond to well to Myofascial trigger point therapy and can be done while watching the TV in the evenings.
Cross training is also an excellent way of building your fitness before embarking on a cycle training program and will also help to rebalance your body while training for the Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride. Walking and swimming are recommended while running is less preferred. Also, various gym “body movement classes” and swimming “aqua” classes where there are a lot of three-dimensional movements with no or light weights are also good.
The body is designed to move so after your riding you’ll want to do movements that are natural to the body to recharge and rebalance it. Even a bit of dancing is an excellent post ride recovery exercise. The most important thing is to find something that works for you that you can fit into your busy life.
You can also do some simple strength training. Cycling-Inform offers a introductory strength training workout that you can download for free here. It also has some great videos with advice about strength training for cyclists.
* David Heatley is an Accredited Cycling Australia Cycling Coach. His company, Cycling-Inform, provides cycle coaching services, runs training camps and has a website full of excellent advice to help you get the best out of your training and your cycling.