How Pilates Can Help Cyclists
For any cyclist, improving efficiency is key – the more power you can produce with less effort, the faster you can travel for longer. Maintaining a good position on the bike, i.e. the legs turning the pedals smoothly whilst the head, shoulders and body remain still rather than rolling from side to side, avoids wasting energy and overworking the muscles and joints.
Pilates can help improve efficiency and increase the cyclist’s enjoyment of the sport in four main ways:
1. Pilates targets the core muscles that help stabilise the rider on the bike, keeping the spine in the correct position whilst the limbs move. By improving core strength, cyclists can increase their power output and improve their balance and the way they handle the bike – always an advantage in terms of performance and safety for cyclists of all levels.
2. Pilates improves flexibility and posture by stretching and strengthening muscles so they don’t set tight and short, a good preventative measure to avoid injury. This redresses some of the muscular imbalances experienced by riders, particularly those cycling regularly and for sustained periods of time. Common complaints suffered by cyclists, which Pilates can address, are:
- tight hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and shins;
- hypermobile ankles;
- weak gluteals
- rounded shoulders, forearm overuse and upper limb nerve irritation;
- tight pectorals, neck and upper back muscles as a result of being hunched over the handlebars;
- lower back pain from being flexed forward with the back and pelvis held rigid.
3. Pilates encourages improved limb alignment when moving. This improves stability and protects against potential knee or ankle injuries caused by the knees or feet twisting or turning during the pedal stroke.
4. Pilates improves muscle strength without increasing bulk, allowing cyclists to improve their power to weight ratio.
What Some Of The World’s Best Cyclists Have Said About Pilates
Chris Froome: “One of the things I wanted to do was calm my upper body movement down and become more stable. Pilates core strengthening work has helped me with that.”
Victoria Pendleton: “I’ve been doing Pilates for more than a year and for me, it’s been a real breakthrough in managing back pain and building my postural muscles. I have lots of lumbar spine issues from spending my life hunched over a bike.”
Bradley Wiggins: “I focus on strengthening my core for 30 minutes each day, mixing up Pilates and yoga moves and using exercise balls. Without a solid core you can’t transfer power efficiently, and you’ll be left with dust in your eyes, however strong your legs are.”
Interested in attending a Pilates class tailored specifically to the needs of cyclists? Follow this link for details of a new Pilates for Cyclists running in Bristol during September and October.