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Top Exercises For Injury Prevention & Strength Building


Injuries can be a pain in the … well, anywhere on our bodies. However, there are a few strategies you can use to help prevent them occurring in the first place – improving your bike handling skills, riding with fewer distractions or carrying out strength and flexibility exercises.  

In this post, with advice from our friends at Barefoot Physiotherapy, we look at a number of basic exercises that can help cyclists strengthen key muscle groups and release tension in others to help prevent injury. Please note that strength exercises should never cause pain – if you are unable to do them without pain then you definitely need to see a physio!

Strength Exercises

  • Squat – Start with feet roughly hip width apart and make sure you focus on sending your hips back and activate your glutes – imaging you are standing on a piece of paper and you are trying to rip that paper in half with your feet is often a helpful cue to get the glutes really switched on. If you are just starting out, slowly lower your body to where your legs are roughly 45° from vertical, then slowly stand up straight again. Aim to work up to 3 sets of 15 (may need to start with less) and the squat going down to 90° (thighs parallel to the floor).
  • Calf raise – start with feet flat on the floor and rise up onto toes. Make sure with this that your weight/pressure stays between your 1st and 2nd toe – no collapsing in or rolling to the outside of your foot. Slowly lower yourself back down to your feet being flat on the floor and repeat. Aim to work up to 3 sets of 20
  • Wall plank – hands at shoulder height on the wall, chin tucked in and shoulders gently down. Walk feet back so body is on an angle and maintain this position for 15 seconds then walk feet forward to be upright again and repeat. This can then be progressed to plank off a bench or on the ground. Aim to work up to 3 sets of 60 seconds

Muscle Releases

  • Glute release – for reducing muscle tension in the glutes and helping improve hip range. Either leaning against the wall or lying on the floor with a ball (tennis or lacrosse ball are the perfect size) in the glute muscle. Move the ball around until you find a tight/ropey spot (will likely also be tender) then maintain the pressure in that spot for 60-90 secs. You are aiming for a pressure level that is uncomfortable but not tolerable – you should be able to breathe normally or have a conversation still! Aim for 2-3 spots
  • Upper neck muscle release – for reducing tension in the neck. Lying on your back with head supported, use fingers to gently press into the muscles at the base of the skull. These muscles help hold your head up and can get quite loaded with cycling so releasing them is a good way to keep your neck happy. These muscles are more smaller and more sensitive than the glutes so aim for 30-60 sec holds.

If you have suffered an injury, why not check out our post on tips on recovering from a cycling injury and, as always, you should seek medical advice if the pain is severe or persistent.

Also, please check out Barefoot’s blog site for a wealth of other information, advice and people stories as well as check out the services and holistic approach they employ.

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