Riding wave of popularity
THERE have been some subtle shifts in recreational patterns of Australians over the past decade. There have been some modest increases in swimming and jogging and going to the gym. The dramatic rise in the popularity of cycling isn’t subtle – it’s been massive.
While golf was the favoured recreation for many middle-aged men, cycling has found new popularity in this group. There is a growing trend of men replacing their colourful golf shirts and plaid pants with skin-tight lycra. The emergence of the MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) over the past decade hasn’t been subtle either!
Australians are cyclists. More than 50% of Australian households have at least one bike in working order. And 17% of the population (a whopping 3.6 million) ride a bike in Australia each week. If you’re on the roads early in the morning no doubt you have encountered the MAMIL. The yellow jersey of cycling participation belongs to these men aged 34–49, with 26% of this age group cycling occasionally or regularly.
The soaring popularity of cycling is due to a number of factors – petrol prices, busy roads and traffic, and let’s not forget Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory in 2011. Norman Morris from Roy Morgan Research also points out that cycling has low impact on joints and has a strong social aspect (cyclists often ride in bunches), making it appealing.
In our last article we talked about the impact of prolonged sitting. While cycling isn’t quite the same as sitting, cycling can wreak havoc with your posture and your back if you don’t do some simple exercises to maintain your body.
Here are our top three exercises to look after your cycling body:
Prolonged rounding of the lower back at work and/or on the bike can cause problems. Lying with a foam roller or rolled up towel in your lower back for a few minutes each day can take a lot of load off your lower back muscles and the discs between your vertebrae.
Hunching over your desk and hunching over a bike can have a compounding effect on your posture. Use a roller or a rolled up towel and place this along your spine. This exercise will help to open up your chest and lengthen your spine.
Cycling uses the quadriceps – the muscles on the front of your thigh. These can tighten up and cause knee problems, a common issue with cyclists, or disrupt your pelvis and lower back.
Square your hips and tuck your hips under by squeezing your glutes on the bent leg side and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat three times.
Hamish demonstrates the quadriceps stretch.
Lying with a foam roller for a few minutes each day can take a lot of load off your lower back muscles.