In this article, Nikalas Cook looks into the benefits of practising Pilates and how it can be useful for cyclists both on and off the bike.
Pilates is a century-old practice originally named ‘Contrology’, devised by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate soldiers wounded in the war.
Through a number of specific principles, training in Pilates enables you to develop a strong but flexible body, capable of greater efficiency and technique on the bike.
There are countless benefits to practising Pilates for cyclists and we’ll go through some of them below! Centred on strengthening the core, the body is trained through a variety of exercises that allow a greater flow of movement, muscle balance, flexibility and stamina. Ultimately this will lead to a better pedal technique and more efficient pedal stroke. A strong core will also provide a stable platform to push down on the pedals, which will greatly impact your power output, speed, and endurance.
Additionally, incorporating regular off the bike conditioning in your training makes you more robust and less prone to picking up injuries, whether from cycling or day to day life.
It’s normal to have imbalances and instability in our body. It may be we are compensating for a previous injury or have developed bad habits, which means we favour one side of the body to the other.
Pilates helps us to balance out the body by focusing upon the quality rather than the quantity of the exercises, making us much more aware of how our muscles can perform more efficiently once translated into riding a bike or taking part in any other exercise.
A strong core means greater stability and strength in the limbs, ultimately resulting in greater and more improved performance in the long run.
As cyclists spend a lot of time flexed forward in a position – both on your bike and at your desk – that is restrictive of hip mobility, the hip flexors become particularly tight. This then has an impact upon lower back alignment, causing the pelvis to tilt forwards and subsequently causing tension and sometimes lower back pain.
Pilates exercises help lengthen and counterbalance tight hip flexors by activating and strengthening the back and glute (bottom) muscles. The glutes are one of the most powerful muscles in the human body, stronger glutes and better muscle tracking means that these muscles (and ultimately you) are more efficient. It’s a win-win!
In Pilates you will also train the upper body, something very much overlooked by a lot of cyclists. The main key to holding a good posture on the bike apart from core strength is good arm and shoulder endurance.
With Pilates being a lower impact and sustainable form of training, not only will it help correct postural imperfections caused by cycling, it will improve your day to day posture.
You will develop strength, stability and flexibility through Pilates training, a greater awareness of the body in motion, its tightnesses and imbalances, and coordination.
Ultimately Pilates is an excellent tool for cyclists to enhance training and prevent injury.
Adele has worked within the health and fitness industry for over 25 years starting with a ballet and dance background herself, she has progressed to training and teaching all styles of fitness and offers Pilates, barre & yoga. As a keen runner, Adele appreciates the need for a strong healthy body and mind and incorporates many elements of Pilates, yoga and barre into her own training to ensure her strength and stamina remain.
Glen is usually behind the scenes making sure that the Hotchillee Ride Captains and event participants have fully functioning bicycles to ride but he occasionally makes an appearance in front of the camera to share his wisdom. If he’s not fixing or building bikes he’ll be out riding in #SweetSussex. If you want to know anything about Cyclocross, Glen is the man to ask.