The repetitive nature of cycling means that even a few millimetres of alignment adjustment can have significant effect on performance, get rid of a niggling pain and prevent injury.
Here are some of the common alignment faults and how to correct them.
The lower back is often too flexed. This can cause damage to structures in the spine like disc prolapses which can cause symptoms in the back and legs. Please click on the link to learn more about common back injuries. From a performance perspective with the back in this position the gluts are unable to contract optimally. These buttock muscles are a major power house for cycling, and hence power is reduced.
1) To correct this you need to increase hip flexion i.e. concentrate on bending more from the hips.
2) If also helps to train the deep stability muscles that hold the spine in the correct position. Find out more about this back exercise here.
3) Check your seat height – if it is too high the pelvis sways from side to side increasing stress and strain though the back and reducing power.
The knees should track directly over the centre of the feet, if not, an imbalance is caused in the quads resulting in knee pain. This is often caused by weak gluts and is thus associated with reduced power. Please click on the following link to learn more about the common cycling injuries of the knee.
1) Look down at your knees and if they are not moving over the centre of the feet adjust their position.
2) Incorporate gluts strengthening into your training programme, and stretch out your quads, hamstrings and the ITB, which can also contribute to knee pain. The following links describe how to use the foam roller to release the ITB and also stretching exercises.
3) Make sure your seat is not too low – this causes a reduction in power and excessive loading to the knees.
4) Incorrect foot posture e.g. flat feet, can cause imbalances in the leg and back muscles resulting in knee pain and loss of power. This can be corrected with insoles, cleat wedges and by adjusting cleat angle.
Excessive curvature in the upper back and hinging at the neck causes compression in the structures of the neck which results in neck, head, upper back and/or shoulder pain. If this is severe then pain, numbness and tingling can also be felt in the arms. Please click on the link to learn more about common neck injuries.
1) Focus on elongating the neck and the upper back.
2) Mobilising the upper back can help by a combination of hands-on physio and by doing thoracic spine exercises.
3) Training the neck muscles can also help. Please click here to learn more about these neck exercises.
4) Make sure your elbows are soft i.e. very slightly bent to provide shock absorbency and reduce the strain through the neck.
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