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Generally, I chafe a little at terms like “yoga for athletes” since I believe all yoga is good for all athletes. In the case of cyclists I make an exception and here’s why: cycling, as a sport, inherently imbalances the body. Article by Vail Vitality Center Yoga Studio Director, Julia Clarke
If you look at the posture of a cyclist next to the posture of someone hunching over a computer, the two are exactly the same: hunched shoulders, a rounded spine and deeply flexed hips. Now, clearly cycling is infinitely better for your health than sitting at a desk, but the two postural patterns carry many of the same disadvantages.
The upper body pattern over time inhibits deep, diaphragmatic breathing, while the pelvis position shortens the hamstrings and can destabilize the lumbar spine. Together, these patterns can affect a cyclist’s performance and lead to injury.
“Yoga helps with outdoor cycling by creating a strong overall body. Cycling creates an imbalanced body that over time can lead to chronic postural problems and even injuries. Although a certain degree of imbalance is desirable to maximize performance on the bike, it is important that it doesn’t progress to far and lead to problems.” Jeff Winkler is Head Coach of the University of Colorado Cycling Team.
I think yoga is a vital component to a cyclist’s routine to offset these imbalances, but not just any yoga will do. While many popular styles are characterized by fast-paced (and therefore shallow breath) sequencing and lots of forward bends and hip flexion to promote core strength, the cyclist looking to create more balance will seek a yoga class that offers the opposite: a slower pace, emphasis on deep breathing, and postures that encourage hip extension, spinal extension and shoulder flexion.
The key poses that I recommend a cyclist do after every ride are low lunge, puppy stretch and supported bridge. I won’t lie, these poses will not feel like a lot of fun if your body has conformed to the bike, but they are likely to help you maintain balance, cultivate vital flexibility over time to keep you riding longer in life, and help you to enjoy a good supply of oxygen.
For more information about more stretches or types of yoga that would work best with your cycling routine please give us a call anytime! 970-476-7960.
All Poses by our Yoga Studio Director Julia Clarke!
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