The physical needs of cyclists are incredibly specific. Thanks to long hours over the handlebars, plus repetitive and somewhat restrictive movements, it takes hard work to keep your body working in sync. The most successful riders understand this fine balance which keeps them not only performing at their peak, but avoiding typical overuse injuries. Specialised yoga sequences are a great tool to balance your training and allow your body to perform at its best.
Words: Delphine Dard-Pourrat
Have you ever wonder if there is a secret recipe to become one of those cyclists who can ride for hours without feeling any pain or any restriction in their body?
Well, there’s certainly no magical remedy, however we can confidently tell you that a cyclist needs to find balance to be at their most efficient.
In finding balance, we mean discovering the perfect equilibrium between strength and flexibility. This is something most athletes are trying to achieve: If you exercise too much on the strength side, your muscles will become less flexible and tighter. There will then be a higher risk of muscular injury and potential restrictions in the legs and back.
Related - Yoga sequences to make you a stronger cyclist
"Cyclists have very specific physical needs. Their legs never fully extend when pedalling, they often have imbalances in strength"
On the other side of the spectrum, if you implement too much flexibility work in your training, you risk creating instability in your joints, which is counterproductive for a cyclist who needs muscles capable of protecting joints against potential exhaustion caused by hours of repetitive movements.
Cyclists have very specific physical needs. Their legs never fully extend when pedalling, they often have imbalances in strength, with some muscles working much harder than others, they spend many hours bent forward over the handlebars and their whole body is typically working only on one line.
As a result, the root cause for discomfort is often found in the hips flexors, glutes, hamstrings and the lower back.
Related - Eight yoga poses to boost your cycling recovery
"Twisted poses dedicated to opening the chest can also release tightness in your upper body and even help increase your lung capacity."
This where some specially-designed yoga sequences targeting the needs of cyclists can help you find more balance in your body. Just one or two 20-minute sessions each week can help reduce the risk of typical overuse injuries that hold cyclists back.
Many yoga poses can effectively target the hip flexors and lower back, helping to balance strength and flexibility. Twisted poses dedicated to opening the chest can also release tightness in your upper body and even help increase your lung capacity.
The session outlined below includes all of this and more to help you restore the balance.
Cyclist sequence for injury prevention
1. Warm up flow alternating between upright seated position and s-seat.
2. Cat and cow flow with waving movements.
3. Alternating downward facing dog and upward facing dog while focusing on stretching the back of your legs and your chest.
4. Prayer squat position. You can move your hips from side to side to increase the stretch.
5. Deep foot forward by bending your body forward, slide your fingers under your feet to increase the stretch, keep your knees bent.
Standing position stretch and come back in a kneeling position.
Camel pose : from kneeling, come on your knees, push your hips forward, hands on your sacrum. For a deeper stretch, you can grab your heels. Keep your body straight when reaching your heels and coming back to kneeling.
6. Back into downward facing dog. Alternate raising one leg and another, bend each knee and open your hip to the side.
From downward facing dog, one foot in between your hands, windmill your hands and reach a twisted lunge position and then continue to a twisted reverse warrior position.
Open your body into warrior II, heels should be aligned. Reverse your warrior and come back to warrior 2.
From warrior II, stretch the front leg, send your hips back, try to reach your front leg to a triangle position.
7. From downward facing dog, one knee bent, bring it in between your hands, relax into pigeon position with your chest on the ground. Then come with an upward chest. Focus on keeping a long chest and stretching your hips.
8. Relax on your belly, then bend your knees, grab your ankles with both hands and try to raise your body; using your hands and your legs. You can rock yourself from back and forth or from side to side.
9. Relax on your belly, having your big toes touching to release tensions in your hips, make a pillow with your arms, head on one side, enjoy the rest.
About Delphine Dard-Pourrat:
This article and sequence have been created in collaboration with Haute Route Ambassador and yoga teacher, Delphine Dard-Pourrat. The Luxembourg-based rider teaches specific yoga classes for cyclists. You can find out more about her specialist approach on Instagram.