Despite it snowing today April means we start to think about shifting our focus from skiing to cycling in the Vail Valley. Many cyclists have kept up with training through the winter indoors, but many have not been on a bike since last fall before the snow started. The worst thing to have happen is to get injured before the season gets underway. Here are some tips to safely ride until next winter.
- Proper bike fit: Poor bike fit can place improper stress throughout the body. This can reduce efficiency or place joints and muscles in uncomfortable positions. Over time this can lead to pain and injured tissues. Once the tissues are injured it can be difficult to heal while you continue to ride. Find an experienced bike fitter with good knowledge of biomechanics to get your bike in order.
- Progress your training: If you haven’t ridden in a few months, your body needs to get reaquainted with your bike, even if you have continued to exercise in other ways. If you are on your bike to many hours too quickly, you may pay for it with pain. Generally endurance training should increase about 10% a week in time or mileage. This can include some variable training such as interval training to more quickly increase your training.
- Thoracic Mobility: Cycling generally places us in a flexed forward position on the bike. To see ahead of us we need to extend at our neck to get our eyes where they need to be. If we are not as mobile through our thoracic spine as we should be the neck has to make up for this. This can lead to neck pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, or numbness in our hands and arms. This is especially an issue for people who are flexed a lot in the rest of their life, such as desk workers.
- Hip Strength: As we have talked about before in this blog, your hips are very important in controlling what the rest of your lower limb does. Weak hips can lead to improper knee mechanics, which with the repetitive stress of cycling can lead to knee pain. The hips should also be your powerhouse. Stronger hips should lead to improved cycling.
- Ride, Rest, Recover: One of the biggest causes of repetitive stress issues is to little recovery time. Many of us ramp up too quickly and do long rides without giving the body a break. Fatigue can lead to poor mechanics. Tissues need time to recover. Build in some rest days and cross train with different activities to change the stress on your body this summer.
Hopefully, these tips will give you some ideas on how to cycle healthily all summer. Enjoy the season.