When it comes to improving on-bike performance, most people simply think of either increasing strength or endurance. Flexibility and mobility is often over looked but is arguably just important as the other 2 elements. Your ability to move you joints and muscles through their full range of motion directly impacts the amount of force you can generate (strength) and for the amount of time you can keep going (endurance). Through everyday use and through working out, our muscles get tight and knotted and our tendons inflexible. Think of your muscle fibres like a pair of earphones. Most of us chuck them in our bag or pocket, and they end up in a knotted mess and unless you spend the time to unknot them, they end up being a lot shorter than they should be and you end up having to stoop in some awkward position so that they aren’t yanked out of your ears. When you untangle them, you can use them as normal and they are plenty long enough. Muscles work in the same way. If your muscles are tight and knotted then their range of motion will be limited, you will be using other muscles to compensate for the lack of movement and then these too will get knotted because they are being overworked. The end result is a big knotted and inflexible mess!
Fear not, there is a solution! Regular and consistent mobility work teamed with regular and consistent foam rolling will break down all of your knots and tension and return you to a nice and supple human being capable of putting your body in all sorts of weird positions. The bad news is that foam rolling hurts like a bugger! However, if you learn to embrace the pain and discomfort, the rewards will be amazing. For the mobility, you need to follow a daily routine for stretching and also fit it in to everyday tasks (waiting for the kettle to boil? Stretch out them hamstrings!) and not just a quick pre/post workout stretch. You need to chip away at the stiffness and slowly but surely it will disappear!
Why is flexibility important on the bike?
When we’re riding enduro, we put ourselves in all sorts of weird positions and shapes. Think of the attack position. You want to get low on the bike, heels down and hips back. If your hips and hamstrings are tight, stiff and knotted you won’t be able to get into it properly. Your weight and balance will be all over the place as will your bike control. As your hips and legs can’t bend, you end up flexing your spine to get you low enough which then gives you back pain and poor core stability. If your calves and ankles are tight and stiff, you won’t be able to drop your ankles either and get your weight back If we foam roll and stretch out our hips, hamstrings and calves, we can easily move in and out of the attack position all day long and all pain free!
Hopefully now you can see the importance in improving your mobility and flexibility and how it will affect your performance and enjoyment on the bike. If you have any questions, please get in touch!