Pilates expert Paola Langella of Shapes Studio and Core Collective explains
Paola believes that Pilates is a miracle for the body and the mind. The practice can exercise every muscle in the body and will help build core strength as well as helping to develop long and lean muscles. It’s the perfect practice for non-cycling days or something to add into your weekly training routine.
Cyclists often suffer from tight hips and shoulders, weak glutes and hamstrings as their quadriceps are overworked. With some Pilates exercises, we can address those areas in order to improve their cycling performance and prevent injuries.
Pilates exercises can be easily included in an active day, a rest day or both, for just 10-15 mins. All Pilates exercises focus on the core which is important for cyclists as having strong core stability leads to an improved ride. Pilates also helps with cycling-related injuries like lower back pain, hip pain and knee pain so it is very useful to include a few exercises in your daily routine.
Here are some simple exercises for you to try:
HIP ROLL: to mobilise the whole spine and strengthen glutes and hamstrings. It is a good exercises to stretch the hip flexors which can become tight.
Lie down on your back, legs bent and feet hip-width distance apart, arms by your side. Start to roll the spine as you exhale all the way up and as you inhale all the way down. Try to feel each vertebra peeling off the mat as you go up and slowly come back down, lengthening the spine. Remember to breathe, to engage your tummy and squeeze your glutes. 8 to 12 reps.
ABDOMINAL PREP ON A FOAM ROLLER OR PILATES BALL: This exercise is good to strengthen your core. Extend your upper back and open your shoulder and give mobility to the upper and mid back as it is very stiff and weak.
Place the ball or a foam roller behind your shoulder blades and overextend your back over it. Put your hands behind your head, legs bent and feet hip-width apart. Start to lift your head and shoulders, flexing the spine forward and exhale, then inhale to go down. Keep the ball/foam roller in contact with your back. Try to keep your abs engaged when overextending your spine. Reps: from 10 to 20
Hamstring stretch with a resistance band: This exercise is good to help elongate the hamstrings and stretch them, plus it is good to mobilise the whole spine and work the core.
Lie down on your back, one leg up into the resistance band, the other leg straight on the floor. Keep holding the same leg up for 15 secs for an extra stretch and change legs. Repeat 5 times on each side.
Plank on forearms rocking on feet:
Put yourself into the plank position with your elbows under your shoulders, imagine you are pushing the floor away from you with your elbows to keep the spine in neutral (one line head to tailbone), keep your legs together and squeeze your glutes. From this position just rock forward and backwards on the balls of your feet and try to extend your knees. You will work your core and stretch your hamstrings. Try to rock 5-10 times and repeat 3 times.