Whether you ride a tri-bike, mountain bike, road bike or anything with two wheels that go around and around, Pilates is GREAT for you! Although the set up on each bike differs drastically, as does the individual bodily dimensions, the principles of sitting and riding the bike are the same when looking at the principles and how to get the best out of a cyclist in Pilates.
Pilates offers cyclists a wonderful cross-training platform to strengthen and stretch the whole body, building strong cycling-specific movement patterns, as well as balancing out the repetitive cycling motion. Pilates is a great platform to teach cyclists body awareness. This naturally will be applied on the bike and in their every day living. This re-education can prevent injury, increased mobility, core strength and give the cyclist good posture.
Unilateral pilates training will rebalance the output from each leg to support the load when cycling. Pilates training should mimic the bike position of the load in the upper girdle, isometrically flexed spine and moving lower limbs. The good news is that a strong core will take unnecessary lateral and rotational movement on the bike which will use up additional energy.
Although the whole body is used when cycling one way or another, certain muscles work harder when riding a bike namely: quadriceps, hamstrings in the upper leg, gastrocnemius and soleus in calf, neck, shoulders, tibialis anterior and posterior, adductors and lateral flexor stabilisers. If these muscles are not in balance with the rest of the body (or the bike is not set up correctly/comfortably) or the muscles are not working efficiently, injuries can occur. It is also important to recognise that riding a bike, already requires additional balance, demanding the core to stabilise.
Cyclist benefit from doing pilates by improving endurance through breathe, better recovery of leg muscles, improving balance, preventing back pain from abdominal strength and back stretching, increased upper body strength, and a more efficient pedal stroke.
Pilates teaches cyclists functional movement patterns, resulting in an injury-free, fast and efficient ride. Cyclists have the gift to improve their goals both on and off the bike. All it takes is your own commitment to the Pilates work!