Core tips from Nat

If you want to improve your riding with minimal effort or you’re getting even a hint of back pain this is the article for you. Natalie talks is through why a strong core is the ultimate goal and how to get there.

Pain, disappointment and anger . My cycling life summed up in three words. I could barely turn the pedals with my right leg and it felt like someone was drilling into the base of my foot. Spending my days at the chiropractor wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for race season but there I was with a herniated disc. Restricted to walking as my only form of exercise, the summer plodded on while I watched everyone else cycle by.

Nearly three years later and I have not looked back. Thanks to intensive treatment and regular check ups from Nick Metcalfe at New Malden Chiropractic Clinic I was back on the bike by the autumn, but I know there is one thing that has really helped keep me injury free, a strong core.

It’s something that we all know we should do but likely never do enough of it (a bit like stretching!). However, getting that big muscle group to work for you will pay dividends in your training, racing and likelihood of developing or exacerbating back pain. You don’t need expensive equipment and it won’t take a specific training session squeezed in to an already packed schedule. All you need is five minutes and surely we can all spare five minutes (or two if you’re really pushed!) when the gains are so great.

Your core is the basis of your pedal stroke. If it is weak you will start rocking from side to side as it fatigues easily. Any sideways movement is energy lost as it won’t propel you forward through the pedals. It will also protect your spine and the vulnerable discs while you spend time curved over the handle bars. Take a sneaky peak at your ride mates the next time you’re tackling a climb. Chances are one of them will start rocking and rolling, an easy to spot indicator of a weak core.

With a strong core you’ll be able to ride for longer, more comfortably and with a more efficient pedal stroke, alongside reducing the risk of back pain. Without regular core work I have no doubt I would be on the sidelines once again.

Every morning before you head off to start the day, take 5 minutes to do a little core work. Chose two of the exercises below and mix and match. If you don’t have five minutes, just do one. Every little helps as they say!

Core exercises

1. Plank

2. Side Plank

3. Dead Bug (Start with 5 on each side)

Thanks to the New Malden Chiropractic Clinic for the videos

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