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Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on strength and flexibility, concentrating particularly on core muscle strength. Pilates also focuses on centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flow. Recreational athletes are using pilates as a form of cross training. As a cyclist, you spend most of your training forward on a bicycle. Your main attention of training is to develops strong lower limbs and an efficient cardiovascular system. Often posture, core and upper limb strength is put on the back pedal.
Pilates is an excellent way for cyclists to improve core strength which helps support the lower back. Low back pain is often a common complaint from cyclists, particularly after a long cycle. Prolonged postures while cycling can result in pain, stiffness and reduced range of movement. Many of the Pilates exercises focus on back mobility, correct alignment, and aim to educate you on optimal postures to prevent low back pain.
The objective of Pilates is to develop strength in the deep muscles of the spine and abdomen, taking pressure off the superficial muscles that may fatigue quickly, promoting balance and efficient use of our musculoskeletal system. This kind of core strength, alongside correct alignment and posture will help support you as a cyclist on those long rides.
The key to Pilates is that each movement requires correct alignment of the pelvis and spine, which in turn requires small and subtle trunk movements that help strengthen the core muscles which are important for cycling. These include: transverse abdominis, multifidus, erector spinae, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominis. By creating a strong core, this will develop greater stability in the trunk and pelvic area to allow you to transfer more power during your pedalling cycle.
In cycling, shoulder and arm conditioning are often overlooked as many cyclists think this will add unwanted muscle bulk. However, Pilates does not do this. Instead it creates stability and increases muscular endurance. Also, because of a cyclist’s position on the bike, they usually have quite rounded shoulders. Posture correction, targeted stretches and strengthening aim to counteract this.
Not only does Pilates focus on strength, stability and flexibility, efficient breathing is also a key element of the class. Increasing respiratory efficiency is certainly a desirable advantage in any sport and no more so in cycling. Additional benefits include improved flexibility, posture and balance, all of which are important in cycling but also in everyday life.
Pilates is a great option for your rest day off the bike. It is a low impact exercise and can help you focus on some weaker areas to improve your performance on the bike, with many stretches built in along the way to increase flexibility.
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic we run several Pilates classes to cater for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. If you are interested in booking a free Pilates assessment, contact us here. You can get the details of our pilates classes by contacting our clinic today.