MTB Safer, Stronger Every Ride Starting Now

MTB Safer, Stronger Every Ride (second article in a series on how mountain bike safer, first article here: http://wp.me/p49ApH-1nc )

This year I hit the ground really hard three times and surprised myself by walking away from all three crashes (at 51)! I am also putting way more power to the pedals! At the end of last summer I thought my riding days were coming to an end, the back pain that had been bugging for the last 15-17 years was getting worse and had tendinitis so bad I couldn’t ride for almost a month. Then in January I was simply getting out of my wetsuit and my back went out! I was pretty depressed.

I knew something had to be done and I had no idea the fix I found would make me feel 15 years younger, give me more energy bringing back my zest for life, the power to climb faster in much harder gears and protect me when I take the occasional slam! The photo above is from 51st birthday ride where I flatted at about 35 miles an hour and my wrapped around my seat stays tossing me on to a rock slab! All riders on that ride were amazed I was okay minus a skinned elbow. It was a long walk out but I was so happy to be walking and not being airlifted out!

What has made this transformation in my spirits, energy level and durability? Strengthening and stabilizing my “core” (what an over used and misunderstood word!). Your core is more than your “abs” and low back! Your core is like a girdle of muscles in your mid section, some of the most important actual stabilize your spine giving you a strong foundation for almost all body movements. I wrote about my final bike pain fix (that took me from a constant pain level of 3-4 and riding pain that quickly would go from 3-9 to a zero with the occasional 1-3 while riding) here: http://wp.me/p49ApH-1jw

The quickest and longest lasting physical improvement you can make for your riding is strengthening and stabilizing your core. In a week you will notice it in two weeks you will be blown away. By simply doing the exercises in the book “Foundation”, and other adding core exercises (I’m not a personal trainer and a highly recommend you have one teach you the correct exercises as doing them incorrectly can lead to injury) you will quickly see an improvement in your riding, less back pain, better posture and more energy! I add core exercises taught in yoga (plank and side plank), some taught by James Wilson (The all fours opposite arm & leg extension, and Kegel exercise (lying on back, knees bend with heels near buttocks and lifting mid section), leg lifts (performed vertically on “dip/leg lift apparatus”, or hanging), inverted crunches, and a bunch of Swiss ball ab exercises to the “Foundation” exercises.

I really hope you take action and strengthen that core! You will be highly rewarded on the trail!

Let us know about your core routine and how it has helped you. Feel free to share this article with anyone you think would benefit!

Mountain Biking and Back Pain, The Final Piece of the Puzzle!

If you have been reading my blog for awhile you probably know that I have been suffering from back pain for the last 10 years or so. I had found some temporary cures and a lot of pieces of the mountain biking and back pain dilemma but had not found something that got rid of the pain for good. I have found the problem and the solution to my back pain! Since many of you have asked I will share the cure I discovered. Remember, I am simply a mountain bike skills coach so I left the details up to the experts.

It all started with this article aptly titled Why Your Approach to Fixing your Low Back Is making It Worse : http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/why-your-approach-to-fixing-your-low-back-is-making-it-worse BTW, I have no relationship with this website other than owing to them my sanity as this article and the ones below fixed my back pain!

Note: Before doing anything to do with your back make sure something isn’t really wrong such as a bulging disc, slipped disc, fractured disc, etc. See a doctor and make sure your body can handle these therapeutic exercises before you start.

I’m still doing a lot of the exercises/stretches I have blogged about in the past as I feel they are important to this process. By process, I do mean process, you will have to do your version of my back routine daily (some pieces twice a day if/when you notice your back pain starting to flare up). My original mountain biking and back pain post can be found here:  http://wp.me/p49ApH-Pp  

The new exercises I have found MUST BE DONE BEFORE all of the exercises in my previous article. As a matter of fact, most of the stretches and yoga postures in my previous article can exacerbate your back pain if the new exercises aren’t performed first. It turns out mountain biking isn’t the pain culprit in my back pain, it is all the sitting I do, while writing articles like this and driving from camp to camp (or driving, flying then driving again!).

The main new “exercise”, lying on your back with your feet and legs up a wall. Sounds hard and complicated, huh?! Seriously, one of my students emailed back, “that’s it” and replied, “yes”. It seems to simple and easy to be true but this “exercise” is life changing!

mountain biking and back pain

This simple exercise will eliminate most back pain! Photo courtesy of Breaking Muscle dot com

For details on how to do this correctly (doing almost any exercise incorrectly can lead to more damage than good) and why it works so well please read this article: http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/banish-pain-permanently-basic-drills-to-repair-your-posture I do the above for two to fifteen minutes at time one to three times a day and always for at least two minutes before doing yoga or any back, hip or core stretches. When driving long distances I will often pull over and do this and yesterday I did between rounds of working on my bikes (as by back always starts to hurt when working on my bike).

The second one is lying on your back with your feet and lower legs hinged over something at knee level, like a couch. More details on it in the linked article above. Honestly, I don’t do the other three exercise in the article (but I probably should). The angle of the knee bend is really important so I don’t want to most a photo, I want you to read the linked article and do all of these exercises correctly!

I have also been working on my standing posture using the exercise in this article: I added in this posture exercise and now I can stand through a two hour concert with no back pain! http://bit.ly/1DWCHKD This allowed me to stand for two hours, on a concrete floor at a concert without ever having the urge to stretch my legs or feel any back pain! I had not been able to do that since my early thirties!

The next piece of the puzzle is rolling out your gluteus medius with a lacrosse ball. I thought I had written a blog article on this but apparently I haven’t. Here is a video describing this process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5KlQtqnGNE when he mentions “it’s easy to find the muscle” he means when you touch it it will hurt a bit!

My routine, I start with 2-15 minutes of the legs up the wall exercise (easy and relaxing, great time to meditate)  then I do 5-10 minutes of gluteus medius rolling on a lacrosse ball (OH, the pain!, you may want to start with a tennis ball). Then I do the exercises in my previous article linked above. It takes an hour a day on average but I feel it is worth it!

I really hope this helps you! Please post your results here or email me, would love to hear if/how this is working for you.