In comparison to other sports, cycling is considered to be a relatively low-impact form of exercise which causes less strain and injuries. Plus, cycling is a good muscle workout that utilises all of the major muscle groups as you pedal, making it a suitable beginner’s workout for everyone.
It is important to find a bike that fits you and for starters, always have these two elements in mind: saddle height and reach. Adjusting your bike to the right fit can go a long way in helping you in terms of injury prevention and performance optimisation.
Your seat should be adjusted to a height that gives your knee only a very slight bend when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Keep in mind that the saddle height affects the efficiency and power of cycling and there can be a lot of compression caused in the hamstrings it the leg is unable to extend fully. At the same time, having the seat too high or low will risk knee injury.
To adjust for proper handlebar reach, ensure that your arms and torso make a 45-degree angle over the bike. If they are too far away, you will find yourself aching in the lower back and if they are too near, your knees will be too close to your arms.
When it comes to training, remember to devise a good training schedule for yourself which builds up to longer distances and intensities over time as compared to launching straight into long distance rides. As a rule of thumb, you should never increase your weekly cycling mileage by more than 10% each week. Schedule for rest days or easy cycling, especially after high-intensities rides, to allow for your body to recover properly and prevent common overuse injuries.
In the early stages, it is better to work on leg speed first rather than power. Consider pedalling with high cadence on flat roads instead of taking on steep hills before you have developed sufficient strength to support that ride. If you are over developing within a short frame of time, your joints might not be able to keep up and you increase the chance of injuries.
If you’re looking to build your core strength for back protection as well as giving your legs greater power, Yoga and Pilates are perfect to complement cycling. It is believed that the restorative actions of yoga are capable of relieving pain and strengthening the body to prepare it for future trainings.