James Power, cycling enthusiast, BCA member and Team Sports Chiropractor EF Education – Easypost – who has worked alongside world leading athletes at a vast range of events from the Tour De France to CrossFit, boxing championship competitions, the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and everything in between, shares his top tips ahead of RideLondon 2023 (28th May).
If you’ve been inspired to hop on a saddle ahead of RideLondon, there are a few things you should know to ensure you put your best pedal forward and prevent any unnecessary strains and pains from getting between you and your cycling goals. James Power, chiropractor, and member of the BCA, shares his top tips for a more comfortable ride:
“Cycling is such a great way to keep fit and active – it works many muscles in your body and is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you’re picking up cycling as a beginner or have been enjoying the activity for many years, it’s essential your bicycle is the right fit for you. Not only is this important for your comfort, but it will help you travel the maximum distance without tiring yourself out after a couple of miles.
“On several occasions I have helped patients with all levels of cycling experience manage lower back, neck, wrist, and hand pain – which are completely normal for avid cyclists. For those starting out, this tends to stem from not having a strong enough core, or a poor position on the bike and some inflexibility. The good news is that just a few small changes in how you sit on your bike can go a long way.”
James Power’s top tips
- Try an e-bike – For those who are looking to take up a new sport and ease their body into the new activity, an e-bike is a great way to get started. E-bokes offer more support and often allow the rider to progress with less intensity.
- Check your saddle – Position your saddle so you are seated flat or sloping slightly forwards to minimise strain on your lower back. Saddles that are too low make it hard to use your full pedalling range and leg power, whilst saddles that are too high can cause you to strain or injure yourself. It’s also worth testing a variety of seat shapes to find the one that is most comfortable for your unique body and cycling position.
- Pump it up– Pumping up your tyres regularly will help make cycling easier and put less strain on the whole body. Cycling isn’t supposed to be painful, so if you find you’re starting to develop backache or any other ailment, pop to your local bike shop to see if they can help adjust your position.
- Check your feet – Given how much cycling is focused on your lower body, it’s a good idea to invest in a comfortable pair of cycling trainers. This will encourage you to balance your weight evenly, alleviating pressure on your lower back , and to help avoid any strains or pains.
- Keep it loose– Make sure your clothing is loose and comfortable and provides cushioning and support where required. Weather can change rather quickly in the UK, so I often employ the art of layering my clothes, which means I can cool down and warm up quickly.
- Take it slow – Cycling is not weight bearing which means that, amongst a host of other equally important benefits, it doesn’t put a lot of strain on your joints and is a good choice if you want to get fit and lose weight. However, if you do too much of anything too quickly, you can wind up feeling fatigued or getting injured. Focus on the bigger fitness picture and try building up your cycling volume gradually, creating or following a training planif you’ve got goals you want to work towards.
- Stretch it out– It’s easy for our muscles to get tense so adding some light stretches before and after your cycling excursions will help loosen up tight muscles and ease yourself into and out of your exercise.
- Hydration is king – Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more! It is not a well-known fact, but dehydration can cause a decrease in your work performance due to muscle fatigue brought on by fluid loss. Cycling uses a lot of muscles and, if you are outside in the sun, you’ll easily get dehydrated. A good tip is to always keep a bottle of water with you and aim to drink every 15-20 minutes.
- Relax your position – Avoid straining your back, neck, shoulders or wrists when you’re on the bike by ensuring you can reach the handlebars with no more than a 60 degree angle from your back to the floor.
- Mix it up – Try switching (safely!) between standing and seated positions whilst cycling. This will prevent you getting stiff, as well as making for a more fun workout whilst exploring your local countryside.
About the British Chiropractic Association:
The BCA is the largest and longest-standing association for Chiropractors in the UK and has been named ‘Best Professional Body of the Year’ at the Memcom Excellence Awards 2022 for its Repositioning Project which has played a pivotal role in changing the healthcare landscape for the better. As well as promoting international standards of education and exemplary conduct, the BCA supports Chiropractors to progress and develop to fulfil their professional ambitions with honour and integrity, at every step. The BCA is raising awareness about the rigour, relevance and evidence driving the profession and the association’s ambition for chiropractic to be more closely embedded within mainstream healthcare.