Here are 3 tips to get yourself ready for a great season of riding!
Start off low, slow and flat– starting the season of easy is the key to long term success
Whether you spent the winter on the slopes, in the gym or on the couch, the stress cycling places on our body is different from other activities. It is important to give our body time to adjust to the new stress we are placing on our tissues and cardiovascular system.
In my experience, the majority of cycling related injuries occur when we put too much strain on our bodies too quickly. Our tissues are amazing at adapting to physical stress, but too much strain too quickly frequently is a recipe for pain.
- Avoid hills- steep inclines place a higher strain on joints, muscles and cardiovascular system
- Try to select a route with less hills
- If you must do hills, selecting an easier gear and spin your way up.
- Lower Intensity
- Working at an easier pace (one you can talk at) in early season helps to build cardio, while minimizing the stress we place on our heart, lungs and muscle tissue.
- Once your body is adjusted to cycling (~4-6 weeks) it’s a great idea to begin slowly adding hills and harder work intensities into your rides to challenge yourself and your body!
Body tune up
- Getting our body ready for the biking is an important step to an injury free season. Over the winter we may lose some of the strength and mobility needed for cycling. Performing a combination of light strengthening and stretching exercises in preparation for the cycling season will not only make pedaling feel easier, it will also help you stay healthy.
- Strength training, yoga, Pilates and cross training with other activities are all great ways to tune up your body for cycling.
- Specific strengthening- performing specific exercises to help train our muscles for the strain of cycling is paramount. Part 2 of our series will discuss specific exercises to help avoid common cycling injuries.
- If you are currently injured, or have an injury that re-occurs every season, consult a physiotherapist to help alleviate the pain and prevent further injury.
- Warm up- a great way to prevent injury is to perform a simple dynamic warm up right before your ride. A dynamic warm up is a simple ~3- 5 minute routine that preps your body for riding, like warming up your car on a cold day.
- Here is an example of a great warm to be performed before biking
These movements should feel gentle, and should not be performed if painful
- Once your body and bike is tuned up for the season, it is important to look at the fit of your bike. Having a properly adjusted bike to your body will help reduce injury, optimize your comfort and efficiency, and generally improve your riding experience by making it feel much easier.
- An improper bike set up can lead to injury by placing increased forces on our joints and tissues, and makes you have to work MUCH harder!
- The following video explains how to perform a basic set up on your bike. These tips can be used as a basic guideline to get you started.
** for mountain bikes- you may want to lower your seat an additional 2-3 cms when using the above method for seat height, which allows for added stability.
- Please note– The position of our bike is highly individual and can greatly differ from person to person. Our body type, flexibility, strength and past injuries can all impact the way our bike should be set up.
- If you currently are injured, bike frequently, or find the general guidelines don’t work for you, you would benefit greatly from a personalized bike fit.
- A custom bike fit by an expert can optimally adjust your bike to fit for body and for your individual needs. If performed by a physiotherapist, a portion of your bike fit may be covered by your extended health benefits.
*These tips and exercises should be used as general guidelines. If you are experiencing pain during or after cycling, you should contact your physiotherapist to discuss how to address the source of the pain and eliminate it.
About the author: Ross Horsley MScPT, BKIN
Ross is a physiotherapist and bike fitter at Easthill Physiotherapy. He is an avid cyclist that enjoys two wheeled adventures from road riding, hitting the dirt on some trails and simply commuting around town.