Core stability and stretches for mountain biking A t the Sports Medicine Center we work with athletes form all sports and ability levels. From time to time we work with cyclists and mountain bikers, and we have found that the demands of these sports are quite different than most field and running sports. When treating any athlete, we first look at the primary body position of the sport. For a mountain biker the primary body position is seated but leaning slightly forward with hands on a stable surface. This body position allows for maximal lower body power production, but also requires dynamic core control and upper body stability. A dynamic core stability program is a key part of any training program for a mountain biker. Your core is made up of your abdominal muscles, oblique muscles and lower back muscles, and these muscles work together to stabilize the spine. These muscles are crucial for every athlete, but they are especially useful for a mountain biker. The ability to stabilize your spine on the bike while your legs are moving is not only the key to avoiding obstacles, but also vitally important in being fast. I love using a front- plank pushup position to train mountain bikers how to stabilize in the position that they ride in. A challenging exercise for cyclists and mountain bikers is a front plank hold with small leg lifts. While holding front plank position (elbows and toes on the floor) try five leg lifts with each leg, and then take a
break. Repeat this exercise for three sets with a one minute break in between. You should feel your abdominals and obliques working, and no pain in your lower back. Due to the repetitive motion of the lower body joints and muscles used in cycling we often see tight and overused muscles in the legs of mountain bikers. The typically tight muscles of the lower body usually are the lateral quad, I.T. band and lateral hamstring. If these muscles are tight they may cause the patella (knee cap) to track improperly and cause knee pain. A thorough flexibility program after riding — utilizing both static stretching and foam roller myofascial release — should help to increase flexibility to these tight muscles. The foam roller is a great tool to work out some of those knots in your quads and hamstrings that come from training and hard workouts. With the foam roller flat on the floor, lie down with the foam roller going directly across your thighs. Using your arms on the floor, slowly roll your body up and down 10 times using the pressure of the foam roller to massage your quads. Repeat this massage after every workout. Good core exercises and a thorough flexibility program will help make you stronger and more agile the next time you ride.
Health Watch James Faison
James Faison is an athletic trainer and a certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Sports Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital Oakland. He is also head athletic trainer at Berkeley High.
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November 11, 2010