If any of these describe your lifestyle, this blog is for you:
- If you are a working professional with a demanding job that requires a lot of time at a desk
- You travel a lot for work.
- You spend a lot of time driving for either work or family obligations.
One of the most common issues I see with working professionals who are also amateur or recreational athletes is the negative effects on posture that they bring into their training.
Here is an example:
Jim came into the Cycling Center Dallas studio the other day to start training. He is a recreational
cyclist who wants to be able to ride with his favorite groups, but also wants to look good, get some muscle tone, and not have to worry about tweaking something in his spine, which sometimes holds him back. He is a working professional and work demands often take away his training time. He is very serious about his career and usually ends up spending A LOT of time at his desk.
Long hours at the computer and in a car have left obvious marks on his posture. Tight shoulders, tight chest muscles, a lack of mobility in the upper spine…i
t could be any one of those or all of them. At this point it doesn’t really matter, because whatever is causing it, the effects on his movement are going be the same.
We spent several sessions addressing this issue by working on corrective movements throughout his workouts and/or after his workouts. I also gave him a couple of quick and easy, specific stretches to do at home. Within a few weeks, his range of motion and posture were noticeably better. He was more aware of it, and his positioning looked better on the bike. He also remarked that the pain he felt in his neck and shoulders during the last half of long rides was significantly lower. He was definitely ecstatic about his progress and results after our sessions.
If you have tightness in your shoulders, torso or back, it could be affecting your training.
Try this test at home:
1. Stand tall with your arms loose at your side
2. Make a fist in each hand, and in one motion place your right hand over your head and down your back as far as possible. At the same time, take your left fist up your back as far as possible like this image shows:
3. Have someone take a photo of your hands behind you (if you don’t have anyone to take the pic, set up your phone to take a video and then replay, pause and take a screen shot).
4. Switch hands and repeat, with the left arm up top, and right arm down below.
If both fists only have a small amount of distance between them and are pretty equal in that distance. You probably don’t have anything to worry about.
If you see there is a difference in the distances between your first and second image, like this....You not only have tightness and mobility deficiencies, you also have an asymmetry between the sides
Tight muscles in the chest and back, or a lack of mobility in the upper spine (or both), can negatively affect your bike position, and if you are a triathlete, your run and walk mechanics, and extension in your swim stroke. If you have imbalances mobility and flexibility.
This type of posture could also result in decreased aerobic capacity throughout any activities you do. Think about it… is it easier to breathe when you are hunched over, or standing up tall, allowing the expansion of the diaphragm?
Hold about 30 seconds
Repeat 20-30 seconds each side
This will work the shoulder muscles through both and internal and external rotation.
Thoracic spine stretch:
Tight shoulders may not be the cause of a round back and shoulders.
If you have poor mobility in your thoracic spine (upper back), you are forcing the surrounding areas to take up the slack in that area and perform duties they were not meant to do. This creates harmful compensations.
Below is a great stretch for the Thoracic spine. Try this one after long rides or a long day at the office. It will probably feel unbelievably amazing!
1. Lay on on your right side with your left leg bent and slightly forward of the right leg’s knee, and resting on a foam roller (use a rolled up towel, or any kind of block if you don’t have a roller).
2. With your left hand, reach across to the gap between your left hip and elbow. Place that hand on the rib-cage. Then, twist gently back toward the floor with the left shoulder. Keep your left knee contacting the foam roller or towel.
3. Attempt to get your shoulder blade of the left side as close to the floor as possible, and then extend the left arm out to the side.
4. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Try these stretches either after workouts, on recovery days or after you have spent a lot of time seated.
See which ones feel the most challenging for you. The odds are that this is also the one you need to do the most. If you have an asymmetry, work the tighter side one or two more times.
And don’t push through pain. If any of the movements cause pain, back off how hard you are straining. If you still find there is pain with movement, there may be another issue going on.
Although there are other areas of your body that tend to exhibit pain and tightness when you have to sit all day or have poor posture, I have found the Thoracic spine is one of the more common and easily corrected areas with cyclists whose daily activity is creating pain, which presents limitations on their cycling.
Stay tuned for more articles and posts, and contact me if you have any questions, need a more extensive program, or are interested in setting up a full functional movement screen and corrective exercise session. my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org