Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher - Kinesis Bikes
Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher

Yoga for Cyclists

Kinesis UK is always looking at ways we can best support our riding community, whether through providing the best technical performance clothing or bringing riders the most innovative bike frames available.

In line with supporting not just our rider’s equipment but their bodies, we have teamed up with Briony Fisher of Breathe Bend Believe Yoga to produce a blog series on yoga for cyclists.

A self-professed adrenaline junkie, with a passion for running, mountaineering and wakeboarding, Briony is a strong advocate for the benefits of yoga cross-training, therefore who better to introduce our riders and followers to the benefits of yoga for cyclists.

Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher



Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher

I recently teamed up with Kinesis Bikes UK to shoot their latest women’s #WeAreCross t-shirt and while walking around the warehouse, hearing about team riders competitions, travels and training, I found myself advocating the benefits of yoga for cyclists to Kinesis designer Matt Gray.

When many people think of yoga, they think of hippy zen like characters stretching, chanting, meditating; but the reality is that professional sports men and women, as well as committed amateurs, have been turning to yoga in their droves to enhance their performance, prevent and recover from injury, as well as to wind down and relax after adrenaline busting activity.

Let’s face it, endurance riding is no mean feat. Kinesis UK Team Rider Hannah Payton recently wrote in a blog post that her cyclocross training can involve up to 25 hours a week in the saddle. While we appreciate not everyone spends that much time behind the handle bars, intense hours in the saddle, tackling rugged undulating terrain over long distances, will take its toll on your body’s muscles and joints.

In this blog series produced for Kinesis UK, we will look at how simple yoga postures, combined and practised regularly, can help riders stay strong, supple and and injury free, starting in this post with focusing on the importance of maintaining an open chest and shoulders.

The chest (pectoral) muscles are used in cycling to steady the bike, preventing side to side rocking movement, absorb shock and support body weight hunched over the handlebars.



Over time if the chest muscles become excessively tight this can lead to curvature in the upper back or thoracic region, rounded shoulders and a sunken chest. Slumped shoulders and upper back can subsequently place excessive pressure on the lower back, as it strains to maintain healthy spinal alignment and causes the muscles of the upper back loosen and eventually weaken.



Couple such tightness from cycling with day to day hours spent driving, commuting and sitting hunched over a desk and it is easy to see how cyclists can start to develop poor posture, lower and upper back pain, as well as restricted movement across the chest. Maintaining openness across the chest and shoulders is therefore a vital part of body conditioning for serious riders.

Below are four postures designed to focus on opening the chest and shoulders, whilst also working other key areas for cyclists, such as the hip flexors, although more on them next time.



FOUR POSES TO HELP OPEN THE CHEST AND SHOULDERS.

Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher
Yoga for Cyclists by Briony Fisher


POSE: TABLE TOP SIDE REACH.



HOW TO:


Step 1 – Draw your body into table top position, hands positioned directly under shoulders, knees under hips.


Step 2 – Inhale and reach your right arm up to the sky. Get the sensation of drawing / rotating the right shoulder backward, stacking the right shoulder over the left shoulder and opening the chest to the left side of your mat. Also focus on drawing your left ribs forward and right rib cage back.


Step 3 – With each inhale send your breath to the chest region and as you exhale see if you can increase the backward rotation of the top shoulder to achieve the stacked shoulder alignment. Keep the abdominals tight to prevent the belly from dropping and the back from arching and take the gaze up to the hand. Hold for 5 breaths.


Step 4 – As you exhale for the last time, dive the top arm down and thread it underneath your supporting left arm and draw your right shoulder to the floor.


Step 5 – Begin to press into the left hand and rotate the left shoulder backwards so you are getting a similar chest stretch with a spinal twist. To deepen the stretch, place the left hand to the base of your back or raise it up to the sky.

To release come back onto all fours in table top position and repeat on the left side.



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POSE: DOWNWARD FACING DOG.



HOW TO:


Step 1 – Start in a table top position. Tuck your toes under and raise your knees off the ground drawing the hips up and back. Spread the fingers and thumbs and press down evenly through the hands fingers and thumbs.


Step 2 – The knees can be bent if there is excessive tightness in the hamstrings, otherwise look to straighten the legs, pull up the thighs and kneecaps and press your heels down towards the mat.


Step 3 – Activate the abdominal muscles by drawing the navel to the spine and draw in the ribs. Allow the neck to hang long, taking the gaze towards your thighs.



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POSE: LOW / HIGH LUNGE WITH TWIST.



HOW TO:


Step 1 – Start in downward facing dog. Take the gaze forward and step your right foot between your hands, ensuring the knee joint is positioned directly over the ankle.


Option A: drop the knee to the floor and untuck the toes so they point towards the back of your mat.


Option B: keep the back knee off the ground. Pull up the kneecap and thigh muscle and get the sense of working the heel toward the ground which will keep this leg straight.


Both postures will actively stretch through the chest, shoulders, hip flexors and strengthen the core. Option B also works in the added challenge of maintaining balance and providing a stretch through the rear leg calf muscle and hamstring.


Step 2 – Bring your right hand to floor to the inside of the right foot and then raise the left arm up to the ceiling. As before, the aim is to rotate the left shoulder backwards so that it stacks on top of the right shoulder.


Step 3 – Keep reaching the arm up with each breath and then after 5 breaths lower the left arm back to the ground, take the right hand to the outside of the right foot and draw the right leg back into tabletop position if taking option A or plank position if taking Option B.


Step 4 – Come back into downward facing dog and repeat on the opposite side.



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POSE: HUMBLE WARRIOR.



HOW TO:


Step 1 – Start in warrior pose with the front knee stacked directly over the ankle and the toes of your back foot pointing outwards 45 degrees. Interlace your fingers behind your back.


Step 2 –As you inhale look up and start to draw your shoulder blades together and breathing into your chest and allow the breath to widen the collarbones.


Step 3 – As you exhale start to hinge the torso forward, lowering down inside of the front leg. Keep hips and shoulders parallel to your mat and draw the interlaced hands overhead behind you. Continue to press apart the shoulders into the fist behind you and hold for 5 breaths.


Step 4 – To come out, raise the torso back up and release the interlaced fingers.

This pose will stretch the chest and shoulder muscles and strengthen the muscles in the upper back as you work on drawing the shoulder blades together.



Briony Fisher is a 200hr Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher and runs yoga classes in Brighton and Hove, as well as offering one-to-one yoga tuition uniquely tailored to individuals sporting goals or professions.

To find out more, visit BREATHE BEND BELIEVE YOGA

Follow Briony and BBB Yoga on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM



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