Flexibility through cycling
Have you noticed that getting out of bed in the morning, or rising from the couch in the evening is harder than it used to be? Or, that bending down to pick up something requires more groaning than ever before? Or, that climbing the stairs is just a bit more difficult these days? And yoga? Don’t get me started! Like the tin man who needs oiling on a regular basis or he will rust to stagnation, we all need to oil our joints to be flexible. Our oil is in the form of exercise. And cycling gives an adventurous, fun, and multi-leveled way of either becoming or remaining flexible. I learned that many years ago from my friend Sam.
While preparing for my first cross country tour with Sam I was doing my obligatory stretches. Sam noticed the limit to which I could extend my legs and he laughed. I was a tad embarrassed by his reaction to my efforts. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. Then he told me that I would become super flexible during the trip. “Not just flexible”, he added, “but super flexible.” I was confused. I was neither flexible at the time as evidenced, nor was I an athlete who was used to training to peak performance. I didn’t fully appreciate what he meant. Off we went. It was an amazing trip. The feeling of freedom, the exhilaration of breathing fresh air, and the sense of accomplishment were stunning. Then after about a week of cycling I noticed that my legs and hips reacted differently. They were not just more flexible; they felt super flexible. I was able to achieve stretches that I could never do before. Sam was right. Cycling brought my flexibility to a new level.
You might ask yourself, so what? What’s the big deal about being flexible, you’re riding a bicycle? The thing is, flexibility is a big deal, a very big deal not only for improving your overall health but as a prophylactic.
Flexibility is essential to minimize the risk of injury. Riding, especially long distance or extended periods of time, puts a great strain on your muscles. Over straining could mean injury. Remember the Tin Man. Creaky joints could mean stressing the muscles beyond their capacity. Also, flexibility allows you to use more of your power at different angles. That means a smoother ride on most terrains, and less or no aching once the ride is over for the day.
One thing you should keep in mind is that once the ride is over, to maintain your muscles, your work isn’t done yet. After every ride I make it a point to stretch my quads, hams, & hips. This gives me much more strength for my next ride and helps keep me flexible.
Over the years I have used cycling to assist in loosening my quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hips. I would encourage everyone to use cycling to help maintain flexibility in their lower body. That way getting out of bed or bending using your knees is much easier and less likely to cause pain or injury.
Please contact us at yanL@downtube.com with any fitness related questions.
©2018 Dr. Yan Lyansky