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by Ali Watts
November 30, 2015
Photography by Sandy Foster
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
I met Ali Watts at the TaiwanKOM Challenge in September and was immediately impressed with her physique (so ripped!), her flexibility and strength on the bike. I had to know her secret.
“Are you a triathlete?” I asked. -“Nope.”
“Do you do Crossfit?” – “Nope”.
Her ‘secret’ as it turned out, is yoga. And lots of it. Not a yogi myself, I asked her how cyclists can benefit from yoga and what essential yoga poses are best for cyclists. Her response is below.
People often ask me how I can have a big day out on the bike and back it up day after day. For me, I know yoga plays a massive role. The more I ride the tighter I feel. Without a passive stretch afterwards it would be hard to get back on the bike.
Many believe that stretching enhances performance, helps with recovery and prevents injury. Of course there are others such as Herbet who refer to studies claiming that stretching is not necessary. However, Quinn sums it up the best, ” one of the biggest benefits of stretching may be something the research can’t quantify: it just feels good.” Yoga takes stretching to the next level. Engaging the breath, body and mind, one can get an even deeper experience than simply stretching.
For some, all the words in the world may not convince, especially knowing that it takes time which could be spent riding right? But stick with it and my guess is after 2 weeks there will be no question that a little bit of post-cycle yoga will yield significant benefits. I say do your own n=1 test!
I think some initial dynamic yoga is a nice way to start a ride, but if I had to choose before or after – nothing beats a passive yoga session after a cycle.
What are the 5 best poses post cycling? After our weekly morning intervals hill sprints, I thought I would ask the guys and girls in my local cycling club to demonstrate their favorite yoga pose. They all seemed to instinctively choose what they thought their body needed, which for me at the time was definitely corpse pose (Shavanasa).
If we have to pick just 5 yoga poses to do after cycling, then here’s my list:
1. Dancers Pose
Not quite as restorative as the following poses but you get a lot for your effort. You can stretch out the hamstrings (as cycling shortens them) on your standing leg, while you stretch your quads and hip flexors on the other and at the same time open up your chest and shoulders.
2. Downward Dog
You can’t go past downward dog to open up the shoulder, lengthen the back and get into the tight hamstrings and calves. Once you in down-dog walk through the feet left and right before coming to a still position.
3. Camel Pose
Camel pose will open up your chest, back and shoulders and release those squashed toes.
4. Pigeon Pose
If you are engaging your muscles correctly while riding, your glutes may be on fire so stretch them out in pigeon pose. If there is any pain in the knee then of course lie on your back and try an alternative option.
A great way to get into your tight hip flexors
*Yoga pictures by Sandy Foster of http://www.yogablissphoto.com/.