Remodel your riding style using the Alexander Technique to rediscover pain-free cycling
Whether you cycle for recreation or as part of your daily commute, or compete in triathlons, cycling can be a great, low impact way to stay fit, but it isn’t without risk of pain and injury.
A 1994 study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine for which 518 regular, recreational male and female cyclists were questioned, found that 85% suffered pain or discomfort in one or more of the following areas of their body:
- 48.8% neck problems
- 41.7% knee problems
- 36.1% groin and buttock strain
- 31.1% wrist and hand pain
- 30.3% backaches
How can the Alexander Technique help?
Cycling-related pain, which is not caused by a road traffic accident, often occurs for a variety of reasons:
- Foremost of these is an anatomically unhealthy riding style / posture. (For a mild example, please see photo below)
- Secondly, poor bike fit (bike set up)
- Thirdly, a combination of both.
An Alexander Technique teacher can offer practical help and advice with all of these areas.
What is meant by a cyclist’s ‘riding style’?
Consider the way both adult and child are cycling in this picture:
Beginning with the child: She is riding in a ‘body-friendly’ way – no undue tension, an expanded, posture, and is sat on her seat bones (ischial tuberosities). Her head, neck and back are working together as a strong unit from which her arms can support her in a relaxed, springy way, and her legs can work with power and efficiency. This is how we are designed to move and reduces the likelihood of cycling-related pain.
The adult by comparison, is riding in a ‘body-unfriendly’ way. There are signs of undue tension in the head, neck, shoulders and back with a tendency to contract and distort his whole body forwards and downwards towards the handlebars. As a result of this, his back and legs lose efficiency and power, leading to unnecessary strain and an increased likelihood of cycling-related pain.
Alexander Technique: An Alexander Technique teacher helps you become aware of what in your way of moving/ body mechanics contributes to your recurring difficulties – whether it’s a painful neck, back or joint/muscle pain or limitation in your performance.
The Teacher uses their hands to gently unravel habits of unnecessary muscular contraction which may be causing pain or impeding performance so that the cyclist subsequently moves with less strain and in a better coordinated way. The lesson takes place both with the cyclist on and off their bike. A turbo trainer, designed for a stationary training sessions, is often used so that you can experience an improved and easier cycling style.
Alexander Technigue and cycling in the media
A light hearted account of an Alexander Technique lesson applied to cycling, written by The Guardian journalist, Jonathan Sale.
Comments about Comedian Miranda Hart’s 2010 Sport Relief cycle ride and the Alexander Technique.