Pedaling with Pilates

Written by bodyworkspilates

Body Works Pilates® is the international headquarters for Fletcher Pilates™.

March 7, 2019

We’ve got your back… and your neck, knees, hips, hamstrings, glutes and wrists

Tucson is a cycling Mecca. Avid cyclists and beach cruiser pedal-pushers alike enjoy our 300+ days of sunshine and variety of terrain to train or just stay fit and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, a lot of time in the (bike) saddle often leads to a plethora of sore backs, necks, knees, and wrists and a cadre of cyclists looking for ways to stay fast, strong and pain free on two wheels and off.

Adding consistent Pilates practice to a cyclist’s training regimen will create body awareness, release tightness from repetitive movement, and increase muscular strength and lung capacity for better stamina and pain-free performance. Many cyclists experience a loss of power from underloaded gluteus and hamstring muscles. Weak or unsupported back muscles lead to extreme spinal flexion (hunched back). This sustained flexion can be a source of pain in the back, as well as the shoulders, wrists and hands from increased weight bearing. The unnatural curvature may also cause neck strain caused by cervical over-extension to keep eyes on the road or path.

There are numerous Pilates sequences taught by Body Works Pilates teachers designed to strengthen and lengthen the fascia (connective tissue) and musculature of the entire torso (abdominals and back), hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulder girdle, and even the lungs. Some excellent examples include:

  • Breathwork! It all starts with the breath! Fletcher Pilates® breathing techniques increase lung capacity and distribution of oxygen to the brain and throughout the body
  • Fletcher Towelwork® creates awareness of shoulder placement, connection and stability of trapezius muscles, and strength and opening of chest and shoulder girdle muscles
  • Several common exercises (practiced on apparatus and the in matwork classes) strengthen core musculature, glutes and hamstrings while creating awareness of spinal movement and pelvic stability
  • Fletcher Barrework™ improves balance, body symmetry and brings focus to midline (ankle/knee/hip) and pelvic stability and targets quadricep, hamstring, and calf development and articulation

Lou Waugaman is a Category 1 cyclist with 30 years in the saddle. He is an ardent advocate and practitioner of Pilates as complementary training for cycling and for staying healthy and pain-free for daily activities.

“The aerodynamic position on a bike is not necessarily ideal to promote back and neck health. After months of pain and numbness, an X-ray and MRI identified that I had a paracentral disc protrusion and severe right foraminal stenosis [compressed and bulging disks}. As an alternative to surgery, I began a daily Pilates practice which included foam roller and mat work directed at the problem areas. Within six short weeks I have the majority of my range of motion back – and best of all, I am pain free. I’m once again doing what I enjoy – riding my bike! Looking forward, I intend to continue and even expand my Pilates Practice as a competitive advantage in the sport of cycling.”

If you or any of your gear grinding friends are ready to get back in the saddle for a better, faster, stronger and pain free ride, consult with a Body Works Pilates teacher today on how Pilates can help.


Side note: Even with the finest tuned motor (body), riders should ensure the mechanics of their bikes are in proper working order and personally fitted. Different body types may require higher seats, adjusted handlebars, etc., enabling riders to find and keep a functional and safe form. Most Tucson bike shops have professional fitters on staff.

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