resting bridge pose stretches adductors, the thoracic
spine and intercostal muscles; counteracts the forward
hunched over position; and releases neck tension by
supporting the weight of the head. It also improves
breathing capacity while relaxing and opening chest and
a bicycle balanced and rolling puts stress and strain on the
body that riders can prepare for, and recover from, with the
people use bikes to commute, to exercise and to socialize,
they may find themselves with aches and pains that were
considered par for the course when riding was occasional but
can nag and discourage when itís counted on as
transportation or recreation.
2000 to 2013, the number of U.S. bike commuters grew by about
60 percent, according to the League of American Bicyclists, an
advocacy group. In the decade between 1999 and 2009, the
number of U.S. bicycle trips jumped from 1.8 billion to 4
billion per year, according to the federal Bureau of
Transportation Statistics, which also found in 2012 that the
average length of a bicycle trip was slightly more than an
like running, is good aerobic exercise, said Bob Oppliger, a
retired exercise science researcher at the University of Iowa,
and it has the advantage of causing less stress on the joints.
activity in and of itself is good. Biking is particularly good
for those who are overweight," Oppliger said, but the
static position of cycling can cost the body in lost strength
over handlebars while perched on a narrow seat, pedaling
constantly and holding up the head to watch the road take a
toll on muscles from the neck to the feet, the spine and back.
Getting a bike that fits the riderís frame and range of
motion is important, but so is developing habits to restore
the body after a strenuous workout and to build endurance for
the next one.
Kleppinger, who was a competitive cyclist and now is taking up
BMX racing as sheís about to turn 49, believes yoga adapted
for the particular repetitive strains of cycling can keep
riding fun and healthful.
wanted to help cyclists get to the heart of whatís
beneficial to them," said Kleppinger, of Portland, Ore.
Her book "BikeYoga" offers a number of what she
calls "stripped down" poses that if practiced
consistently can cultivate flexibility and strength.
not yoga "for already bendy women," she said, though
some movements are similar to those in other forms of yoga.
The poses are intended to counter the shortening and tightness
in muscles and tendons that come with cycling and can cause
discomfort, poor posture and shortness of breath.
sitting while cycling," she said, "the worst
possible position for the human body. Stress gets stored and
those areas need to be opened up. The hips, lower back,
shoulders and neck ó the core strength brings it all
locust pose, for example, in which the chest and legs are
lifted simultaneously, strengthens the back and tones the
abdomen. Kleppinger says the sphinx, a kind of back bend with
legs outstretched and arms flat with elbows under shoulders,
helps keep the spine strong and flexible and boosts the
plank, in which the body is supported on straightened arms and
toes, is good for the core, arms and legs. The camel pose,
where the body leans backward over bent legs and straight arms
with fingers nearly touching toes on the floor, is
particularly good to counter hunching.
Russo, who owns NEXT Yoga studio in Wheaton, Ill., and works
with athletes of all ages and abilities, sees yoga as having
an overall beneficial effect on the minds of cyclists as well
as their bodies.
increases strength, flexibility, focus and balance and can
prevent injuries," said Russo, who stumbled into a yoga
class about 13 years ago in an ongoing quest to find some way
to feel better as she struggled with Crohnís disease, a
chronic inflammation of the bowel.
works to lengthen the hip flexors for more fluid movement in
pedaling and to lessen lower back pain, and it stretches the
spine to combat rounding of the shoulders and tightness in the
neck, she said. She added that emphasis on deep breathing and
meditation helps with focus.
calms the central nervous system and lets you laser focus when
needed, like when youíre close to another cyclist or about
to turn a sharp corner," Russo said.
yoga "can prevent injury if you know what your body feels
like on a good day. That awareness may get you to back
off," if the strain from cycling is too intense, she
like Kleppinger, believes the maximum benefit from yoga comes
when a ride is over. A little stretching before is good so the
muscles are not too tight, Russo said, but after being hunched
over for a period of time, "itís uber important to
lengthen the spine and muscles for future rides."
agrees. She said doing yoga "after makes a whole lot of
sense because tissues are flush and saturated and ready to
stretch." She suggests about 20 minutes of targeted poses
after a ride and more general movements any time of day to
counter the sedentary nature of many jobs and activities.
value of stretching is hard to quantify, Oppliger said, but
the very nature of cycling causes parts of the body to
probably more a feel-good type of deal. Any way we can think
of to reduce stress is valuable," he said.