The weather is nice and an increasing number of cyclists are out, whether they are riding for fun or riding for a cause or riding in a studio/ gym class. Cycling is a great low impact form of exercise, however the downfall of cycling it often times leads to imbalances in the body. When cycling, the main focus is on the lower body, as a result this leads to overly developed quads and calves, tight hamstrings and low back, overworked and tight hip flexors and the bent over or rounded shape of the spine and shoulders leads to poor posture, resulting in rounded shoulders and thoracic kyphosis, and low back pain.
It is recommended to add cross training to your routine in order to work different muscles. By doing this you will strengthen the areas that are weak, stretch where you are tight and as result balance your body. Yep, I am saying it, adding Pilates to your weekly routine will help with your overall performance.
The focus on the “power house” or “core” in Pilates will allow cyclists to have more “oomph” or power from their lower body to pedal along with improving flexibility and strength and proper alignment. Your upper body strength will increase, low back pain will be prevented, improved balance, with the different types of breathing used in Pilates sessions the ability to ride for longer periods of time will improve and as mentioned before any imbalances in the body you may have will be corrected.
I will be sharing a few Pilates exercises both equipment based and ones performed on the mat for those of you that are not able to make it a studio.
Part One: Mat Work
Great for spinal articulation and strengthens the low back.
Increases spinal rotation and strengthens the core. Great stretch for back .
Leg Pull Down:
Stretches the Achilles Tendon, strengthens the core, the scapular and lumbopelvic stabilizers, hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.
Works the powerhouse and hamstrings, back extensors and glutes.
Stretches and strengthens the quadriceps, increases torso stabilization, and strengthens the back.
Kneeling Side Kicks:
Strengthens the abductors hip flexors, shoulders, lats. Great for hamstring flexibility and stabilizes pelvis.
Strengthens the back and hip extensors and works the glutes at the same time. Great for pelvic stability.
Side Leg Bananas:
Strengthens the hips and obliques and great for torso stability.
Single Leg Kick:
Strengthens the hamstrings,back extensors and glutes. Stretches the quads and improves the stability of the shoulders.
Strengthens the entire body and improves upper body strength.
Side Leg Bicycle:
Strengthens the hips and glutes and improves the stability of the pelvis and torso.
Great for balance and coordination. Fantastic massage for the spine and just plain fun.
These are just a few of the Pilates mat exercises that can be included in your daily routine. Stay tuned for part two , equipment based Pilates exercises in the next few weeks.