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fit 3 Bike

A Strong Core Can Improve Your Cycling by Kevin Mcree


ycling shops do a lot of fit work with a wide range of athletes. Each athlete that comes in is different, with his or her own unique style of riding, goals, experiences, and even ailments. While athletes differ, their ailments can be extremely similar. The most common ailments I see are back, shoulder, neck, and/or knee related. Why is that? Training schedules are often adjusted to life’s demands, such as full-time jobs and family obligations. Often, work requires sitting at a desk for long periods of time. For many, the first chance to ride is usually at the end of the day. And for most of us, post-ride recovery usually involves some form of couch time. This type of schedule wreaks havoc on shoulders, hip flexors, hamstrings, and the spine as they are forced into constant flexion and forward rotation. The constant flexion can cause muscular imbalances that lead to poor posture, injury, and a dysfunctional riding position. Dysfunctional riding position often refers to a tilted or twisted pelvis and poor posture (slouched

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back and forward-rolled shoulders). It is important, therefore, to reverse and correct these effects. Strengthening your core is the foundation for a strong riding position. “Core” refers to more than just strong abdominal muscles or having a “six-pack” (the rectus abdominis plays a very small roll in cycling). Rather, the core refers to all the muscle groups from the top of your shoulders to the bottom of your pelvis. These muscles work to keep your pelvis, spine, and shoulders stable so you can have an efficient and effective pedal stroke. Poor pedal stroke mechanics can be the result of a weak core, which can be seen in excessive rocking of the hips and upper body movement while pedaling. This excessive

movement is not an efficient way to apply power to the pedals and actually increases the amount of work (metabolic cost) needed for each pedal stroke. A weak core also causes slouching during a ride, which results in poor riding posture as well as back, neck, shoulder, and hand strain. While a stronger core will make you a stronger cyclist, cycling itself will not create a stronger core. It is important for athletes to focus on building a strong foundation by having a good, consistent core routine that focuses on hips, glutes, and deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis). A vital part of this core routine is stretching. I believe that stretching is one of the most important exercises you can do as a

June 2012 - The Outside Issue  

The Outside Issue with #1 Cable Wakeboarder, Tom Fooshee, as the cover feature.