It is the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are in lockdown, and depending on where you are, the majority of us are limited to the amount of sport and the type of sport we can do. Here in France we are currently limited to running as a form of exercise and can travel no further that 1km from our house while training. In the UK at the time of writing this, as I understand it, you are able to cycle and run still with no restrictions on distance. Regardless, we all know just how uninspiring sitting on a turbo trainer can be at times; but have no fear, it’s not all about sitting on a turbo trainer or getting the miles in, if you are still lucky enough to do so.
There are many pros to cycling, but if cycling is your only form of exercise and training, there are some cons:
- Cycling is a notorious culprit for shortening certain muscle groups, Hamstrings and Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) for example, so maintaining mobility to reduce persistent niggling injuries is crucial.
- Cycling is a low impact sport, great for your joints some may argue, yet can be detrimental to your bone density.
- Cycling is a common culprit to relative energy deficiency syndrome RED-S through overtraining combined with under-fuelling, creating a shift in hormone levels and reducing testosterone, thus adding to that reduction in bone density.
It’s not all doom and gloom! We can use this time to help get us into a routine, so that when we get back on the bike we can be fitter, stronger and faster, injury free and in a good routine that we can continue to implement after the lockdown.
Osteoporosis, (reduced bone density), creates a higher risk of low impact fractures. It is often found in middle aged women as their production of oestrogen hormone decreases at the time of the menopause. Osteoporosis can also occur due to relative energy deficiency syndrome (RED-S) as testosterone and oestrogen levels reduce. In a very small nutshell, your body will priorities the energy you provide it for sport, and if this is insufficient then there is not enough energy left over for hormone production and regulation, and normal bodily functions. Combined with a common stigma that ‘lighter is better’ in the world of road cycling, this can cause a major problem with under nutrition among cyclists. Its not confirmed if the cyclist and olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman had RED-S, but a diagnosis of Osteoporosis did lead to the end of his career as a professional cyclist, evidencing just how important it is for us to vary our training for cycling and ensure adequate nutrition.
Weight baring activities reduce the risk of osteoporosis and help to increase bone density, along with adequate nutrition and training load. BikeFit targets mobility, core stability and multidirectional body weight strengthening specifically designed for cyclists.
Tips and ideas for varied training:
- Regular Yoga or a good stretching and mobility routine
- Multi directional body weight training e.g. BikeFit & a varied HIT session,
- Running, hiking or other weight-baring and loading activities
- Weight training