The Question: My dad and I are training to compete in an endurance cycling race this summer. Any advice on how to reduce the risk of injury?
The Answer: Congratulations on making a commitment to being active this summer. Cycling is a personal favourite summer activity of mine - it is a great way be outside, explore the city and its surrounding countryside and exercise all at the same time.
To any non-cyclists: Keepreading - we may not all be endurance cyclists, but many of us are what I would call endurance "sitters." We sit at work, on our sofa and in our car.
Cycling and sitting can cause similar muscle imbalances. Doing too much of either activity (or non-activity, as it were) can cause the muscles at the front of the hip to become stiff. Plus, the muscles in the upper and mid-back can get "stuck" from the lack of motion.
Don't worry, there are steps you can take todeal with this problem.
1. Incorporate exercise that involve rotation, extension and side bending the spine to counteract the hours of relative stillness on your bike or at your desk.
2. Stretch out the front of your hips and do strength exercises that involve hip extensions (your leg going back behind your body).
3. Also, incorporate this dynamic flexibility exercise into your regimen: walking hip flexor stretch and rotation.
Step one: Put your right leg forward into a lunge. Bend your left leg slightly and squeeze your left bum muscle so you feel a stretch in the front of the left hip. Step two: Reach the left arm diagonally over your body so your body leans slightly to the right. Step three: Bring your left arm straight up in the air and rotate your body so your eyes look over your right shoulder. Step four: Rotate back to centre and lift your left foot off the ground. Hold it behind you and squeeze your left bum muscle. Step five: Step your left leg forward and repeat the entire sequence on the opposite leg.
Trainer's tip: Incorporate a yoga or dance class into your workout routine so that your body gets to move in a variety of directions.
Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at email@example.com . She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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