Cross Training for Cyclist- Yoga
Yoga can be at the center of any sports, cross training program. This is especially true for cyclists. Yogic Practice will not only help improve flexibility and core strength, but can also improve breath control, body alignment, balance, and provide you with better overall awareness of your body and how it moves.
As a Cyclist we tend to have overdeveloped quadriceps, tight hamstrings and Iliotibial bands (IT Bands). This can lead to knee and hip pain. Riding in a hunched over position for hours can lead to back pain. This can keep us off the bike.
Practicing a few basic poses with proper alignment can help to alleviate these pains and make cycling more enjoyable.
Pigeon Pose and some variants can be really helpful to open the hips, relax and gently stretch the back, neck, and shoulders – throw in a thigh stretch to flex your hamstrings and it very well could be one of the best poses for a cyclists.
Be careful not to hurt your knees
The second biggest complaint I hear from cyclists is back pain. From lower back spasms to shoulder and neck tightness, these back of the body ailments can make longer rides torturous.
One added benefit from yoga is the awareness it brings to you about how your body moves and how you breath. Yoga brings focus to how muscles engage, body mechanics, and the need to create space for you breath.
Some alignment shifts I have made and the benefits I have seen on the bike are: A slight tilt of the pelvis to create a curve in the lower back enabled me deliver more force to the pedals, engage the abdominal muscles, and prevent lower back pain and lower my Perceived Effort.
Changing my cleat angle and fore aft position corrected my foot alignment.
This helped the knee to track correctly throughout my pedal stroke and alleviated some knee pain I was experiencing while also helping me to deliver more power to the pedals. I had already done a bike fit in the past but this added awareness helped me to fine tune previous adjustments.
In order to achieve all of the benefits of practicing Yoga and avoid injury, it is recommended that you find a certified instructor
(This person will have undergone a 200-500 hour teacher program and should have at least a 1,000 hours of teaching experience.)
They should be able to guide you in proper alignment and breathing while taking you through poses appropriate for your level and ability.
If you are unable to perform a pose they will offer a modification or prep for the pose rather than trying to force you into the pose.
Look for recommendations from friends and online and checkout a few different classes. When you click with the right style and instructor go with that.
Good Luck adding yoga to your training regime for better flexibility, power, aerobic capacity, and injury prevention.