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May 8, 2013
Staying Functionally Fit to Maximize Your Cycling
Allison Mills Cortellini MS, ATC, PES DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan
Cycling is a great way to stay fit, see the world, and be competitive!  As cyclists we spend time making sure our bike is ready to go-we get our rides properly fit from a professional, we always wear our helmet, our bike is tuned up, and the tires have the correct pressure-but how much time is spent on making sure our bodies are ready to ride?
We can always make the body-our engine-more efficient.  A factor behind the power is our kinetic chain and sequence.  If the chain is broken along the way, we lose power.  In order to maximize power we need to look at the body functionally.
Do the ankles fully flex and extend?  Do your arms fully flex and extend for the hand cyclists?  Do our hips fully extend in order to use our gluts maximally?
The body has a natural pattern of mobility and stability as we progress through the kinetic chain.  If a joint is lacking motion, there will be too much at another joint, which can create injury.  If your hips are not fully extending due to an improper fit or the hip joint itself is tight into extension it may cause pain above or below the hip.
To avoid knee pain such as arthritis and patellofemoral pain, make sure the ankle and the hip are moving properly.  The joints above and below a painful area must move properly to avoid further injury.
How about spinal position and breathing on the bike?  Neutral spine and full hip extension directly impact, speed, power and endurance.  Starting from the cervical spine down to the equal balance of both ischial tuberosities ('SITS' bones) on the seat also provide proper positioning for ideal function.  Balance throughout the entire kinetic chain is essential to elastic power.
Overall, I recommend including a variety of tempo rides, longer-duration endurance rides, sprint intervals, and cross training on land to maximize cycling performance.
Glute and hamstring strengthening programs on land are great complements for cyclists when off of the bike.  One of my favorite stretches on my bike is standing over the bike, right foot clipped in, the left foot on the ground, drop the right heel towards the ground and extend the hip, navel to the spine, which will stretch calf and hip flexor muscle groups, two very common areas of tightness.
It is important that we take care of our engines-our body.  Doing a dynamic warm-up before we get on the bike is a great way to stay functionally fit.
The DMC's Sports Medicine Program and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan are staffed with the same specialists treating Detroit's best pro athletes, and they're ready to treat you like a pro, too.  If you or a member of your family has a sports injury and you are not sure what to do, for immediate attention or to schedule an appointment, call 313-910-9328 or visit www.DMC.org/sports to get in touch with DMC Sports Medicine physician 24/7 regarding your injury.
Next Cycling Article: May 1, 2013
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