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6 Tips to Become a Stronger and Injury Free Cyclist!
Make sure your bike is set up properly. Have an expert asses your seat and handle bar height. A biomechanically sound bike is essential. Make sure your seat and handle bars are at the appropriate height, and your feet are securely strapped or clipped in.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FORM
Make sure your knees aren’t caving in or splaying out, and that you’re using your core to keep your pelvis stable as you ride. Don’t just push the pedals down, that overworks the front of your legs. Instead, work through the entire pedal stroke by using the back of your
legs to pull your heels up toward your bum.
MIX THINGS UP!
I love cycling, but the repetitive nature of the sport can lead to overuse injuries. Don’t just cycle. Mix up your cardio – try rowing, running or swimming. As an added bonus, mixing things up will ensure that you don’t hit a fitness plateau.
DON’T FORGET STRENGTH TRAINING AND CORE WORK!
Training your legs can lead to greater power, strength and endurance on the bike, and can also help counteract cycling-related overuse injuries – such as patellofemoral syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome and patellar tendonitis – and muscle imbalances. You will be a better, stronger and less injury-prone cyclist if you strength-train. Prioritize multi-joint functional exercises likes squats, lunges and dead-lifts, and core work like planks and wood chops.
RECOVERY, RECOVERY, RECOVERY
Exercise stresses the body. You need to give your body the ingredients it needs to recover properly. Prioritize sleep, eating well and stretching and rolling. Your body recovers while you sleep, and a healthy diet is key since eating well helps your muscles and connective tissue repair and become stronger. Stretch daily and get regular body-work like massages, or use the foam roller to massage out your muscles. Pay particularly attention to stretching your chest, quads and hip flexors. If you travel consider investing in “the stick”. You use the stick in place of a foam roller, but it is small, like a skinny rolling pin, so it travels well.
DO INTERVALS AND HILL WORK
Most cyclists have a love-hate relationship with hill and interval training. I know that I do. Hill and interval workouts are intense, they burn, but in the long term they are worth it. They will make you a stronger and faster cyclist. Interval workouts alternate between periods of
higher and lower intensity. The intent of interval training is to gradually increase your fitness so that higher intensity work feels more normal. My favourite analogy is the feeling of city versus highway driving. After driving on the highway, city driving feels slow. Your perception of a normal speed has changed.
Do intervals once per week. This is one of my favourite workouts. Warm-up for ten minutes. Then alternate two minutes at slightly faster than regular pace with two minutes at a slightly slower than regular pace. Repeat for twenty to thirty minutes. Cool down for ten minutes.
Do hill training once per week. Warm-up by cycling to a hill. Ride up the hill (which should take a minimum of three to five minutes) then turn around and cruise back down. Start by climbing the hill twice. Increase the frequency each week until you are doing eight consecutive climbs. Finish by riding home.
Kathleen Trotter, MS (Exercise Science), BA (Honours) is an ironman competitor, personal
trainer and writer. She is passionate about fitness and health and trains a wide variety of clients ranging from the avid athlete to individuals living with osteoporosis, Parkinson's and scoliosi. For more articles visit: www.kathleentrotter.com.