4 Rehabilitation Exercises For Cycling Muscle Imbalance
Last month I did a blog on 4 Simple Recovery Stretches For Cyclists, focusing on key areas of tightness that develop from long hours of sitting on a bike. This month I thought I would expand on stretching to add some rehabilitation exercises you can do to battle common cycling muscle imbalances.
Cycling is a great sport for developing cardiovascular fitness. It’s also low impact so an excellent option for people who struggle to do other cardiovascular exercises such as running due to impact injuries like shin splints. However cycling, like any sport or exercise, can start to cause muscle and posture imbalances when performed over a long period of time.
The major muscle imbalance I see in cyclists is weakness in the glute muscles and overactive quads/hip flexors. This is known as quad dominance and commonly affects cyclists as the position on the bike leads to the glutes switching off and the quads becoming the dominant muscle in the movement. This problem is then compounded with our seated lifestyle where we tend to sit at work and at home for many hours a day. This further exacerbates the glute laziness and hip flexor/quad dominance. In any stretching/rehab routine for cyclists, it’s important to focus on stretching the quads and hip flexors while strengthening the glutes.
Below are a selection of glute activation exercises that can help improve cycling muscle imbalance:
The glute bridge is a fairly well-known glute activation exercise. This exercise can be done at home or in the gym. At home, you can simply use your bodyweight or a light dumbbell and at the gym, give the barbell a go. With this exercise, I recommend doing 15 reps and repeating that 3 times.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian split squats are one of my favourite glute exercises. This is a great way to isolate and activate the glute in single-leg stance. The other good thing about this exercise is you can do it at home and at the gym! At home, you can put your back foot on the couch or a chair and do split squats that way — this is challenging with just bodyweight training but can be made more challenging at the gym with dumbbells. Aim for 10 reps each leg repeating 3 times a couple of times a week.
The other muscle imbalance I see in cyclists is poor posture in the neck and shoulders due to hunching over the handlebars. I recommend that cyclists practice pec stretches to keep their chests open. Adding in some back exercises such as bent over rows and face pulls can help with this imbalance.
Bent Over Rows
Bent over rows are one of the best exercises for upper body posture. At home, you can do this one with a band or light dumbbells. At the gym, you can try it with a barbell weight that suits your strength. This exercise targets the muscles between your shoulder blades and will help to strengthen your posture muscles. For best results, do this exercise 15 times for 3 sets,after you have stretched out your pec muscles.
These are just a few rehab exercises you can do if you are a cyclist. If you are cycling for many hours a week, I recommend including a specific stretching/rehab routine to avoid any muscle imbalances and injuries from occurring and keeping you out of action.
If you need more help or have any cycling-related injuries, feel free to get in touch with Dynamic Chiropractic. We are a Brisbane CBD chiropractic practice and have extensive experience and techniques to treat cyclists. We love keeping our patients fit, active and doing the things they love!