Five Important Tips for Cycling Healthily Edit Title

Make sure you and your bike are right for each other

Like in any relationship, you have to ensure that your bike is well designed for you and your body. Some bicycles simply aren’t a fit, and riding them can cause posture and performance issues. Each person will have a “window of function” when it comes to the desirable shape and size of a bike, so there is no exact measurement that will fit you and sometimes you will have to change as you get fitter and stronger.

What’s important is to not rush into purchasing your bike and ensure that it matches your body well. For a moment, disregard aesthetics and specifications and focus solely on the form of the bike. An overly low saddle can cause a high knee lift and unfinished pedal stroke while crushing the diaphragm. Finding a great fit will help you cycle more powerfully and safely.

Think about pedalling technique

There is
a lot more to pedalling technique than you may realise. If you optimise your pedalling, you will be able to cycle faster for longer while sharing the load to prevent overloading a specific joint or area of tissue. This is a great way to improve your performance on your bike, while preventing future injury.

Finding the perfect cadence is a process of balancing your rotations per minute and the amount of force you have to apply. You want smooth pedal operation, rather than clunky - while still maintaining speed. Make sure you don’t pull on the upswing; instead get your foot out of the way of the pedal so that you don’t create negative torque. When your foot is at ninety degrees, force should be applied directly downwards. Keep your ankle loose while cycling, as this makes it easier to apply pressure at the bottom of the stroke.

Vary your riding

Don’t feel like you need to push yourself too hard every day to build your endurance. Overextending and riding hard every day will do more damage than good. What’s important is finding a good balance. On the day after hard riding, sessions should be easier with higher cadence and low resistance pedalling. This allows your body to recover and build strength.

You should also think about varying your riding after long distance riding, by easy pedalling for half an hour. This will help your legs to recover and flush out lactic acid build up.

Don’t forget to stretch and activate

Like before any exercise, you must ensure that you stretch thoroughly; this is particularly true if you are suffering from soreness or stiffness. Working with cold muscles increases your chance of injury, which can put you off your bike for a while. Take good time to warm up and activate before riding, promoting blood circulation and tissue warming. Just because you will be pedalling with your legs, don’t neglect to stretch your upper body as well. This is a common mistake made by cyclists. Follow this up by building gradually into the ride, pedalling slowly at first until you are ready to grow.

Develop a strong recovery routine

Just as important as stretching beforehand and exhibiting proper technique throughout your riding, it's essential that you develop a strong recovery routine for after. This is as your muscles can become inflamed or tightened with lactic acid build up. This will usually involve beginning with a recovery ride with high cadence and low power, which will allow your muscles to start relaxing. After you get off the bike, gentle stretching and self-massage will help alleviate soreness; you can make use of a foam roller. Consider cold and hot therapy with ice baths and a hot shower, which can stimulate the neurovascular system and accelerate recovery.

It’s a great idea to work with expert physiotherapists like Bend & Mend to develop your recovery routine, as it will have a huge impact on your riding life. A great recovery system will have you constantly developing strength and endurance, while ready for work ahead. Poor recovery can result in persistent injuries and degradation of your body.

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