The western suburbs of Minnesota have unbelievable bike trails. The Luce Line, the Dakota, there are just so many bike trails to enjoy. I see a lot of recreational cyclists in my office. I enjoying biking over 1200 miles this year so I am a cycling addict. I love riding my bike.
Despite biking being great exercise and mental relief, it is very common to find cyclists to have tight hip flexors that over contract and shorten and underactive inflexible and weak hamstrings. This is a result of pushing down on your pedals and not pulling up. Clips help, many of us think toe cages are dangerous but they too help your hamstrings contract a bit. A great option is to have pedals with tiny spikes and shoes that grip them. You still get to pull with the hamstrings and gluts without the fear of injury.
Some of these problems are caused by the hamstrings being too tight and shutting down—yes—stretching does help this. I have seen men who couldn’t bring their hands to their knees be able to reach their mid calves with consistent effort over time. Flexibility is definitely something you can recover as you age, IF you work on it. Foam rolling your hamstrings and quads can also help this problem.
It is really common for cyclists to have these imbalances. It is critical that if you are going on long rides, that you are using your hamstrings to pull your pedals up instead of only pushing down with your quads. Pedal strong revolutions. This can really only happen effectively if you are clipped in to your bike. If at any point in your rotation you can feel or hear the slip or your cleat or pedal, put attention to it. If you have been free-pedaling with your tennis shoes and that sounds too intimidating, get the spiky pedals. These tips are especially critical if you are going over 25 miles. Regardless of how you are contacting your bike, make sure there is push and pull through all parts of your pedal stroke.
Tight hip flexors and hamstrings can cause a lot of pelvic imbalances and back pain so make sure you are seeing your chiropractor regularly, especially when you are increasing your activity. Getting adjusted will help you stay active and resistant to injuries. If you are looking for a chiropractor, check out our Plymouth office. You can schedule your appointment online.