How beneficial is yoga for cyclists? There are a lot of misconceptions around yoga, and you may scoff at the idea of it improving how you feel on your bike. However, more and more pros are using yoga as their secret weapon to get faster and prevent injury.
So, what can the ancient discipline of yoga bring to modern day cyclists? Whether you ride to get stronger and faster, or just because you love it, yoga can be a great tool.
4 Benefits of Yoga for Cyclists
A strong core is vital for cycling power, posture, and injury prevention, especially in your lower back region. As a result of the bent over position on your bike, many cyclists have highly developed back muscles, with comparatively weaker abdominal muscles.
This muscular imbalance is normal, but can cause issues in the long run. If you’re tired at the end of a long ride and have poor core strength, you will be more likely to slump in the saddle. This will place undue pressure on your shoulders and wrists, as well as cause lower back pain once off your bike.
Flexibility & Posture
Much in line with your core strength, maintaining proper posture on your bike will prevent injury. The natural inclination is to round your back as you crane your head to look forward. Not only does this create drag, but it will eventually cause pain in your lower and upper back and neck.
Everything in your body is connected. So, to maintain proper bike posture you have to have adequate flexibility in your lower back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. The flatter your back can be, the less issues you’ll come up against in your training. Yoga can help you not only build the strength and flexibility to hold your posture, but also help you become constantly aware of how your body is feeling.
You may not put much thought into your breathing when you’re attacking a hill. The pressing thought for most is to simply keep breathing, even if it looks more like panting. However, when transformed from an automatic function, it can be great training tool.
Yoga can help you learn how to monitor your breathing, making the most of each breath. It can train your body to take slower and deeper breaths to maximize your oxygen intake.
Yoga is ideally injury prevention rather than treatment, but it can help on both ends of the spectrum. Regular stretching and yoga will reduce your risk of suffering from the typical overuse injuries that plague cyclists. These include IT band syndrome, tight hamstrings, back pain, and knee problems.
Because your legs never fully extend on the bike, your muscles get little chance to fully lengthy. There is also an imbalance of strength, with so much power coming from certain muscles, while others remain underdeveloped. Ensuring you are working and stretching these muscles off the bike will go a long way to keep things balanced.
There are a lot of different types of yoga, so you can try different ones until you find on that fits. For those that struggle with having the discipline to stretch, it can be a great way to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to recover. Even switching out just one of you rides a week for a yoga session will help your overall strength and power on your bike.