Photo by Ryan Korzyniowski

Samantha Welter of Empower Performance Therapy joins us again to discuss how preventing an injury can actually make us faster, able to ride longer and at a higher skill level. 

Content provided by Samantha Welter of Empower Performance Therapy

Injury prevention doesn’t sound very sexy.  You are probably picturing a bunch of boring Thera-band exercises that are yawn-inducing before even picking up the strap.  

So let’s rephrase it. 

Go faster in just 10 minutes a day!

Increase your endurance with 3 simple daily steps!

Crush that rocky step up by doing THIS each day!

Now are you intrigued?

When you look at the published research, you’ll find 94% of pro cyclists have had knee pain at some point in their career.  60% of amateurs report having pain while riding during their lifetime.   The most prevalent on the bike pain is located in the knees and low back which can be caused by improper bike or cleat fit, strength deficits, poor flexibility or overtraining.  

Riders tend to blame the bike or gear first.  A saddle that’s too high, a cockpit that’s too short, a cleat that’s rotated too far internally, and a myriad of other fit issues can cause chronic pain and overuse injury.  You should get a bike fit each year and with every new bike, but you should never look at the bike as a unilateral cause.

The static position of a road bike, commuting by car, working at a desk, sitting long hours on the couch create a snowstorm of shortened tissues, sleepy glutes, and poor posture.  This kills our biomechanical advantage, limits performance, and can lead to injury.  Taking time to perform purposeful strength and flexibility exercises can correct any weaknesses, restore our biomechanical efficiency, and limit injury chances.

You just need to take a few minutes.  Less than 5.  Move intentionally and focus on the muscle contraction and correct positioning.  The following exercises incorporate multiple joints and movement sequences to economize your time and increase efficiency.  These are meant to prevent low back and knee pain.  Creating stability, strength, and flexibility where you need it.   Check out the videos to see how to perform each compound exercise, and read on to see how each affects you.

 VIDEO: High Knee, Backward Lunge, Twist 

  • High Knee builds hip stability in standing leg
  • Backward Lunge moves through balance, lengthens the hip flexor, and strengthens the glutes and quads
  • Twist strengthens obliques and mobilizes the low back

VIDEO: Side Plank, Knee Drive, Glute Extend

  • Side Plank build stability around the shoulder joint, abdominals and spine
  • Knee Drive provides a challenge to stability
  • Glute Extend helps activate and strengthen those sleepy gluteus muscles, and open up the front of the hip for more mobility

VIDEO: Side Lunge with Overhead Press

  • Side Lunge strengthens hip rotators, glutes, and quads while increasing flexibility in the hip adductors
  • Overhead Press improves posture and scapular stability, opens up the chest, and strengthens the shoulders

VIDEO: Hip Flexor / TFL opener

  • Reverses the shortening of the hip flexors from being bent forward on the bike as well as opening up the outer hip to lengthen the TFL, which is the muscular portion of the IT Band.  

Anyone who has poured over training blogs or performance enhancement articles understands the benefits of strength training for cyclists.  It’s all there—peer reviewed and in black and white.  If you are already incorporating strength into your training—awesome!  You can add these exercises into your routine as a warm up.  If you aren’t adding supplemental strength to improve your bike performance yet, start here taking a few moments post-ride to launch a healthy snack habit.

Injury prevention IS performance enhancement.  Doing little things each day to stay ahead of overuse injuries will lead to speed, endurance, strength, and power gains on the bike.  You ready?

Samantha Welter, MS, ATC is the founder of Empower Performance Therapy—empowering you to be the best damn athlete you can be.  Playing the game of bikes and trying to hang on with the pros.