I have recently had great fun cycling in the English countryside with my brother and his friends. My brother is a keen cyclist and it’s his favourite way to get away from it all and get exercise and stay fit. I have been introducing him to the benefits of Pilates stretches specifically designed for cyclists and he is now incorporating these stretches into his own warm up and cool down routines.
Peta Green, my partner at BodyPlayground, teaches Pilates regularly to two professional cyclists: Liam Kelly, the owner of Bondi Bikes and Anthony Shippard. Within a few weeks of training she saw a huge improvement. “They seem more connected with their core, they are starting to get the idea of lengthening the muscles, especially in the legs and they are becoming more aware of their posture,” she told me.
Following on from the mat classes she developed for Liam and Anthony, Peta came up with a series of Pilates exercises to help all cyclists, whether they ride professionally or for fun, balance out their bodies and create a lean, strong physique by strengthening and stretching the muscles in the core, spine and extremities. The exercises can also help make the cycle stroke more efficient Peta says.
She explains: “Cyclists’ posture is in a constant curve of the spine sitting on the bike (kyphosis) and also they use their legs in a repetitive action for hours on end. Pilates exercises strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, hip flexors, lower back and abdominal muscles and increase the flexibility of the hamstrings and lower back which assists with the positioning on the bike. Most importantly Pilates helps to correct imbalances of the muscles and improve balance in general, minimizing falls.
Pilates is a great addition to any cyclist’s fitness regime either as a cool down after a long ride or for stretching on the days when you don’t get out riding. The best way to see results is doing Pilates exercises at least twice a week. It takes time and a bit of patience to get it at first, but that’s the beauty of Pilates – you keep learning about your body and how it works.”
Peta and I have made a couple of special stretching videos for cyclists in our sport specific “25s” series. That’s 25 exercises in 25 minutes. You can check them out HERE.
Emma Sandall runs (with Peta Green) Body Playground, an online space for discovering how to put the fun back into your fitness routines. For tips on stretching or to learn a nice sequence you can do any time, any place, check out Vimeo.