Indoor training considerations:
With powerful social interactive cycling applications like Zwift more and more individuals are spending their time indoors and training. Although maintaining your fitness on the bike through the colder weather will pay dividends in the spring you should seize the opportunity to pedal outside as much as possible.
Cycling indoors even with trainers like the Kinetic Rock N Roll which allow the bike to move laterally do not require the user to maintain the same postural control needed in the outdoor environment. The stability of the rear-end of the bicycle often creates differences in the pedaling stroke relative to being in the outdoors.
When you have a bike that is perfectly comfortable outside, and then leads to problems when ridden inside, I feel it is important to look at what is different. When you do, there are two key differences. Lack of wind resistance on the body riding inside. That is a difference that I find because you end up with slightly more weight on the hands and arms because you don’t have the wind pushing your upper body back.
To compensate for that, it is generally recommended that people raise the front axle about 1"-2" [25mm-50mm] higher than the rear axle. This shifts the weight slightly back onto the saddle and off the hands and arms.
Again the lack of neuro-muscle input and postural control is required compared to riding outdoors.
As the weather turns to the cold most individuals even those that are actively riding indoors tend to be more sedentary and as such have normal aches and pains associated with sitting longer. Dr. Anna Chetnik of Hudson Valley Physio and Spine Care offers these tips. Humans are not designed to remain in one position for a long period of time - particularly sitting.
We are made to be movers - to walk, lift and climb. You should move your joints daily. A healthy joint is one that moves in any direction without pain. Two quotes to live by:
“Motion is lotion”
“If you don’t use it, you lose it”
Imbalances can occur in joint mobility which can lead to pain and loss of motion. To maintain a balance within your joints we typically want to move in the opposite direction you are “stuck in.” Sitting puts the spine, hips, and knees in flexion, so the most common direction that helps keep joints healthy if you are sitting or cycling is extension. Just like brushing your teeth twice a day for healthy teeth - some basic mobility exercises can be performed for joint health.
Lumbar extension - involves bending the spine backwards. Prone lying, prone lying propped with pillows under your chest, press-ups, standing and bending back with your hands on your hips are some examples.
Thoracic extension - sit in a chair with a low back, support your head, bend back against the back of the chair.
Cervical retraction - in sitting or standing, keep your chin level and slide your head straight back without looking up or down.
Hip extension - assume a lunge position, press your hips forward, keeping your spine in neutral.
These mobility exercises should be performed slowly, but do not have to be held for more than 3 seconds. I recommend performing about 10-15 repetitions at least twice daily or more if they feel good. If any of these activities are particularly painful or you have any questions, feel free to reach out to [email protected].
Disclaimer - these are not random stretches to try for pain relief, however, they have been found to be most commonly useful in people that remain in a sitting position for long periods. Every back pain/neck pain/hip pain is different and needs to be properly prescribed by a movement expert after having done a thorough assessment.