We love riding our bikes! So much so that for many of us the longer daylight of summer means more time out on the road or trails exploring or building fitness for an event. While riding gives a lot back to us -- a sense of fun (in our too-much-adulting world) and a fulfillment of our desire to explore the world around us or to learn what we are truly capable of -- it is not very kind to our hips, lower back, and shoulders.
Here are four strength moves we can do after our rides this fall to help us breathe, move, and feel better.
Step Back Lunge with Double Sided Champion Reach
This simple-looking little exercise helps move the fascial tissues, as well as begin to unlock the upper body's rotational movements, something that is often lost toward the end of the season for many cyclists. In addition to helping open up our hip flexors, this one little move also helps us to work on our balance.
Click here to view a demonstration of this move. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions a side, alternating sides.
Side Lying Windmill with Foam Roller
This one is a new twist on a fan favorite here at Basecamp! Adding the yoga block or pillow between our knees and squeezing allows us to fire up our inner thigh muscles while allowing our upper body to begin to open up more as we rotate up and around with the arm.
This exercise is even more helpful when it's done after the first exercise above, as we are slowly layering on gentle mobility and flexibility while the body allows us to learn how much it can go on that day.
If you get pain in your shoulders on this one, it's a good idea to schedule a consultation with a physical therapist, who can do a proper assessment and help you get those shoulders healthy and ready for Basecamp and beyond!
Perform 2-3 sets of 5-8 repetitions a side. Be gentle.
Wall Spinal Stabilization A
This sneaky little exercise doesn't look like much, but it does a fantastic job of getting our quadriceps to relax, our abs to fire up, and the muscles along our spine to wake up!
Click here to watch a video demonstration of this move, and be sure to pay attention to the cues. Toes need to be pulled up and knees squeezed together, with lower back flat, to get what we want from this exercise. Make a point not to cheat; keep your heels no more than 6-8 inches away from the wall and be sure to take big, full inhales and exhale all the air, for each breath.
Perform 2-3 sets of 2-3 repetitions with a 10-second hold for each set.
Supine 90-90 Hip Switches
Perhaps the one exercise that is most likely to get an “Ahhhh! That feels nice!” from riders in the late season, this gentle little mobility exercise is magnificent when done after the first three exercises above. It's a gentle way to return some inner and outer rotation of your hip. Keep in mind this exercise should be eased into!
Aim to keep your midsection fired up a little so that your lower back isn't wiggling around like a worm. We want stability and enough stiffness through the midsection, which allows some movement from our hips from side to side.
You may find your TFL (the muscle on the front outside of your hip) to be a bit fussy. If so, be gentle or skip this movement entirely.
Riding is a lot of fun and can really allow us to tap into a part of our inner child that likes to explore the world and see how far we can go or how much we can accomplish. But in order to keep our outer self up to the task of pushing its limits, we have to make the time and effort to work on balancing out all those hours in the saddle.
Make a point to add these four exercises after your rides for the next four to six weeks. You just might be looking, moving, and feeling almost like a kid again….but be wise: less is more! We want just enough that we feel or move better afterwards, not so much that we feel sore or stiff.
Train smarter, not harder.