Mountain biking is an exhilarating and demanding sport that can be seriously tough on your body.
The hunched over riding position puts tremendous stress on the lower back, neck, shoulders and wrists and sets up a predictable pattern of muscular imbalances:
• tight calves, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, chest, upper back and neck
• weak core and glutes
• over-developed quads
• anterior pelvic tilt
• excessive strain at the lower back
• rounded upper back and shoulders
You’re not alone if you’ve experienced knee, lower back, shoulder and neck pain as a result of these postural misalignments, which can take all the fun out of riding and limit your performance and skill development.
Luckily, even if yoga is not your thing, a short, specifically designed stretch after your ride could make all the difference to your enjoyment on the bike.
Here are some tips to get the most out of the routine:
Adjust the poses to fit your body and not the other way around. Try to copy my alignment as closely as you can but remember, we’re all different shapes and sizes so we may not look exactly the same. Move however feels good to you, stopping and starting the video as much as you need to to wriggle into the position that gives you the most relief.
Bring all your attention to the sequence. This is one aspect of yoga that sets it apart from traditional stretching. Focus on your breath, the sensations in your body and to improvements in your flexibility. Notice how many thoughts are buzzing through your mind, trying to claim your attention. Every time you realise you’ve been distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Listen to your body to assess how deeply you should go into a stretch. Mild discomfort in the poses is ok but pain is definitely not. You never want to use force to increase a stretch as your brain will react by preventing your muscles from lengthening. Breathe into every stretch and allow your body to unlock naturally over the next few weeks.
Use this as an opportunity to slow down your breathing and calm your nervous system. These 15 minutes may be your only chance in the day to do nothing but focus on yourself – both body and mind. As you slow down your breath and ease yourself into the poses, allow your nervous system to switch from high-adrenaline, survival mode to calm composure.
Be consistent. One yoga sesh is unlikely to have a significant impact on the health and suppleness of your body, so be consistent. 15 minutes two to three times a week is going to be much more effective than the odd 90 minute class you sometimes can and sometimes can’t make. You’ll be amazed at the difference if you’re able to stick to it.
Remember, you’re only as good a rider as your body allows you to be.
Here is the routine:
Abi Carver designs 15-minute yoga routines for action sports athletes looking to get in great shape, reduce aches and pains and level up mental and physical performance.
Here is the link to her Yoga for Mountain Bikers page where you can sign up to receive free articles, poses and tips to take your riding up a notch.
You can also follow her on Instagram @yoga15abi for more inspiration and motivation.