The day before Lockdown I was lucky to get my hands on a smart trainer and I joined the Zwift community. Until then I’d only ridden on a basic trainer when it was too difficult to get my ride done outside. Like many others in the world at present, I’ve been clocking up several good quality virtual rides a week either on the hills or at a decent tempo. These kinds of workouts differ from riding outdoors mainly because the cycling is consistent (without free-wheeling) and there is less overall body movement in the saddle. I’ve noticed a few people posting on Instagram how they are having cycling-related back ache during this lockdown period, so I thought I’d share a simple yoga pose can that help to counteract the tightness which can develop in your quads, hips and back from doing static Zwift riding. I do this pose daily as part of my yoga practice.
Hero pose stretches the front lower limbs – quads, shins, ankles. Adding the back-arching variations deepens the stretch into the abdominals, hip flexors, chest and spine. It’s an excellent way to relieve tension in your body after those big volume or intensity sessions that can leave your legs feeling tired and your back stiff. As it also stimulates the abdomen, it can help sooth your digestive organs.
- Kneel above a foam roller (or a rectangle stack of blankets) with your knees either side of the roll, shins parallel and toes pointing behind you. Do not let your feet rotate outwards as this can damage the knee joint.
- Sit on the roll – the points of pressure should be your buttocks, your shins and the tops of your feet. If your knees feel uncomfortable increase the height under your buttocks.
- Lift your spine tall, draw your abdomen in, roll your shoulders back and expand your chest.
- Take 20 full breaths allowing your thighs to stretch.
Variation 1: Hands behind
- Reach behind you to place your hands on the floor, fingers facing forward (traditionally this is done with hands facing backwards, however it can be difficult for beginners with tight shoulders to then arch and open their chests). If you are too stiff to reach the floor with your hands, place them on books for extra height.
- Press down through your buttocks, shins, feet and palms – roll your thighs inwards and your shoulders back – allow your spine to arch as much as feels comfortable – imagine lifting your chest towards the ceiling.
- Keep your head supported by maintaining a neutral neck – don’t allow it to tip back and hang – if you feel discomfort or strain in your neck just keep your head upright and facing forward.
- Take 20 full breaths.
Variation 2: Lifting up
- From variation 1, now strongly press your shins, feet and hands into the floor while lifting your hips up.
- Squeeze your buttocks to protect your lower back – this can also assist in loosening the front of your hips.
- This is a challenging movement so focus on allowing your ribs and chest to expand so that you can maintain smooth diaphragmatic breathing – aim to hold this for 10 to 20 full breaths.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To come out of these positions, lift yourself slowly back to kneeling upright. Never swing your legs out sideways from kneeling on the roll or the floor.
CAUTION: If you have an ankle or knee injury the compression on these joints may prevent you from being able to comfortably do this pose – check with your health practitioner if you’re unsure.