(Natural News) Cycling improves your heart health and makes your legs stronger. The activity can even help you be more mindful. But too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad for you, and cycling for a long time may eventually cause back pain.
What’s a cyclist to do? The answer lies in a relaxing practice: yoga.
Cycling involves repetitive movement, which, when combined with the need to maintain a single posture for long periods of time, can often cause back pain. If you have back pain after a grueling cycling session, you don’t have to quit your gym routine.
To relieve back pain, try relaxing yoga poses and practice them regularly.
Yoga is a beneficial practice for cyclers and spinners
Yoga is effective because it offers both short- and long-term benefits for back pain relief.
Doing yoga improves your focus and makes you more mindful. It also boosts your flexibility, mobility and strength in all planes of motion.
Yoga poses emphasize breathing techniques that stretch and strengthen the muscles. This reduces muscular tension and improves your balance and bone strength.
Additionally, the slow movements and focus on proper breathing essential for yoga help improve the emotional aspect of back pain as it lowers stress and relieves anxiety and depression.
Practicing a diverse range of skills through yoga addresses the biomechanical issues often linked to repetitive activities like cycling.
Most cyclists feel pain in two primary areas: The lower back and between the shoulder blades. Cycling may also cause pain in the neck, hands, hips, shoulders and knees. (Related: Exercise is the best natural remedy for back pain.)
Cycling causes pain because you need to maintain a single posture for a long time as you repeat a limited range of movement patterns. The human body is an efficiency machine and it adapts to let you perform frequent positions and movements with minimum effort. However, doing this can cause muscular imbalances that pull you out of alignment, resulting in back pain.
Cyclists tend to repeat and maintain the movements below:
- The seated position, which shortens your hip flexors, abs and chest. This also overstretches your lower and upper back.
- Pedaling, which overdevelops your quads and calves.
- Cycling is limited in planes of motion because you have no need for any significant twisting and side-bending.
It’s important to stretch or alternate your activities to balance the movement patterns above. This prevents back pain and discomfort while cycling.
Below are some yoga poses that will relieve pain for cyclists. You can either practice them as a sequence or individually.
Do this pose in the morning or before you start cycling to activate your posterior chain.
- Squeeze your glutes as you draw your shoulder blades toward each other on your back.
- Rotate your thumbs up to the sky to open up the fronts of your shoulders. Look down at the ground so you don’t compress the back of your neck. Hold the pose for three to five breaths, then repeat twice or thrice.
The cat-cow pose is a pre-ride mobility sequence that loosens up your spine. Do it slow and monitor your body for any particular areas of tightness, particularly in the mid-back (thoracic spine).
- Inhale into the cat pose and round your back.
- Drop your chin to your chest then exhale into the cow pose: arch your spine and gaze towards the sky. Repeat six to eight times and move with each breath.
The bridge is a pre-ride pose that prepares your glutes before you start cycling.
- While you’re on your back, keep your feet, knees and hips in a straight line. Your toes and knees should point straight ahead.
- Hold the pose for three to five breaths. Inhale and exhale through your nose.
Reclining spinal twist
This pose is best for unwinding in the evening after a long cycling session in the morning.
- Lie down on your back and bend your knees into your chest. Extend your arms out alongside the body in a “T” formation and keep your palms facing up toward the ceiling.
- Inhale and lengthen your tailbone toward the ground. Drop both of your bent knees over to the right, and look to the left as you exhale.
- With your knees and feet close together, press the backs of your shoulder blades down toward the mat.
- Remain in the twist for five to 10 breaths, then inhale to come back up to the center.
- As you exhale again, drop your knees to the left then look to the right.
- Inhale and come back up to center. Wrap your arms around your legs. Gently rock from side to side to release your low back, then extend both legs straight down onto the mat.
If cycling causes back pain, relieve any discomfort with these yoga poses.