The coronavirus pandemic sparked a bicycling boom last year that shows no signs of slowing. Whether you are brand new to the sport or an experienced cyclist, you are susceptible to neck and low back pain if you aren’t conditioning properly, says Mari Holden, a private cycling coach and community director for USA Cycling in Colorado Springs, Colo., leading Let’s Ride, a nationwide youth cycling program. “Everyone thinks a strong lower body is the key to cycling,” says the 50-year-old Olympic medalist and world champion cyclist. “A strong core is just as important.”
The back and neck are bent in unnatural positions when hunched over a bike. New riders or cyclists who suddenly tack on extra miles often feel pain in the neck and low back as these areas fatigue fastest, says Ms. Holden. A weak core and weak trapezius muscles—the ones that span the upper back, shoulders and neck—are often the culprits, she says.
That hunched position is similar to the shape the body takes while seated in front of a computer all day, she says. So it should be no surprise the new work-from-home lifestyle has resulted in more neck and low-back aches. Ms. Holden uses the following exercises as a maintenance routine throughout the year to keep her core strong and her body in balance. “When you ride, it’s easy for some areas of the body, like the glutes and hamstrings, to get strong, while others like triceps or chest get weak,” she says. “Keeping everything in balance will prevent injuries and make you an all-around stronger cyclist.” She suggests running through three sets of each exercise, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between each movement.
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