Yoga Sports Coach™ and Author, Lexie Williamson, introduces the first of her new blog series, a Yogi in Sport.
‘Why Do Cyclists Need Yoga?’ was the title of my talk at the Dare 2b Festival of Cycling. Thousands of fans had gathered at Harewood House, Yorkshire to watch the 2014 Tour de France riders stream out onto the dales.
I was invited as a Yoga Sports Coach ™ and author of Yoga for Cyclists (Bloomsbury Publishing) to offer some benefits to the festival crowd.
Why Do Cyclists Need Yoga? is a valid question. After all, they don’t swing a club 180 degrees like golfers, side lunge like tennis players or require the multi-directional movement skills of a footballer.
In fact, cyclists desire as little upper body movement as possible and this is one reason to turn to yoga. The lateral stabilizing muscles of the legs, hips and torso can become tight from holding riders in a fixed, flexed position.
Road riding posture is the second main reason to try yoga. It may be an aerodynamic ideal but is tough on the muscles of the lower back. With a spine in deep flexion the rider is also forced to extend the head, leading to discomfort in the neck and upper back.
Moving downwards, the legs are never fully straightened, creating tight hamstrings. Some muscles are also overworked, like the cyclist’s famous bulging quads, while others are underused.
Yoga can redress this imbalance by strengthening weaker and smaller muscles. It breaks cyclists out of their forward moving or sagittal plane through side bending and twisting poses and eases the spine into extension through gentle backbends.
Cyclists looking for a flat back (as opposed to ‘cat back’) riding posture can also use yoga to improve flexibility in the hamstrings and lumbar spine, tilt the pelvis and drop into a lower stance. This flexibility work, combined with core strengthening, will ensure many happy injury and pain free hours on the bike.
Lexie Williamson is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher and Yoga Sports Coach ™, and author of Yoga for Cyclists and Yoga for Runners (Bloomsbury Publishing). A former business journalist she now writes for the sports press, including Cycling Fitness, Outdoor Fitness, OM Yoga and Women’s Fitness magazines. Lexie is a runner, cyclist and sprint-distance triathlete. She has worked with runners, cyclists, triathletes, sprinters, tennis players and pistol shooters.
To find out more about Lexie, click here to see her Profile.
If you want to take your career to a whole new level, train to be a Yoga Sports Coach™ - today!