1 Exercise to unlock your hamstrings
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
-upper and lower body aches and Pains on the Bike
-Technical bike handling
-Faster Sprinting and Better Endurance
- Your Long Term health
Would it sound like an exaggeration if I said you can tick each of these boxes by optimizing your position on the bike? Yes, a bike fitting should be everyone's first stop when setting up their Bike. But this doesn't solve all of the above for most Riders. Many of us spend upwards of 10 hours per week Cycling. In fact between commuting and recreational rides, it's not uncommon. The only places we'll spend more time, are in bed, in our cars, or at the Desk. And it's these last two that exacerbate the problem. Sitting. Yes, here comes another anti-sitting blog post! Thanks to Sitting Culture (if that's not a thing, I'm making it a thing.) - most of us have weak and tight Hamstrings and Hip flexors. From a performance standpoint, this is at best sub-optimal. From a postural standpoint, we're in "Epidemic of back Pain" territory.. Yikes!
The Problem for Cyclists - We can't separate the effects of sitting and Bike position. The fact is, unless you ride standing up at alll times ..you're deepening the postural pitfalls of sitting. Not only that, but as you're actively loading muscles while in that position, you could argue that its a greater stimulus in the wrong direction! More specifically, shortened hamstrings cause a forward tilting of your pelvis (think about your dogs' posture when they're taking a poop). You can see above the effect this has on riding posture.
The low back is forced to flex forwards (Kyphosis), just so we can get to the bars (let alone in to the drops). The shoulders are straining as a result, which causes upper back pain. To top it all off, this Kyphosis forces our neck to crane upwards just so we can look forwards. This isn't just a bad look, it hurts and it's dangerous. Short term and long term.
The Solution - Traditional stretching probably isn't the answer. Hamstring Stretching has been prescribed for pretty much everyone, pretty much forever. Yet we still encounter this tight hamstrings problem. Why? Because Static stretching doesn't develop strength and neuromuscular control. We need the ability to move through long ranges of motion without needing a wall or some other form of leverage> So if we want our body to grant us access to that long Range of motion from day to day, its time to start gently loading and moving through larger range of motion. Lets start getting strong in the positions we want to own. Here's one of my favourite exercises to open up the hamstrings and free up your lower back. When I first saw it, my mind immediately went to all the cyclists I train who need this drill!
If you're currently free of low back and hamstring injury, I recommend adding the Dumbbell seated Good morning to your Off-Bike routine asap. Start light - with about 10% bodyweight in each hand and make sure you can perform 3 sets of 10 reps with great form before increasing the weight.
If you are currently suffering from back pain or injury or a hamstring tear. Or if you're just not sure, and you want to find the best solution for you - get in touch and we'll figure out where you should start). Not only will this help you get more comfortable on the bike, it'll free up your big Powerhouse Muscles to apply all the force they're capable of. Not to mention help you stay healthier on the bike, getting more miles, with fewer aches and pains. As with all exercises, they're most powerful when applied in an intelligently planned program.
If you like this kind of content and you're interested in seeing more like it, or you want to throw a request for something similar my way, Join one (or both!) of my Facebook Groups and hop in on the conversation.
High Performance for life is a group intended to help Weekend warriors get the best out of their body, over the longest Athletic career possible.
Strength Training for Cyclists also prioritizes Longevity and Performance equally and hopes to help Cyclists get more out of their Riding, through a little application of time off the bike.
Hit either of the above links to check out the Groups!
Yours in Health,