Tag: crossover symmetry

Can Stronger Shoulders Make You a Better Rider? – Here’s What I’ve Learned

SHORT answer = YES! Powerful shoulders, and while we’re at it, a strong core, and good flexibility, are all beneficial when it comes to riding bikes.

AS you can imagine, there are other advantages to having “jacked scaps,” a concrete core and malleable muscles, some of which include:

  • Better bike handling
  • Fewer injuries
  • Less soreness
  • Faster recovery
  • Higher FTP
  • Greater endurance.

ESPECIALLY when standing and pedaling! We probably don’t give it much thought but that rocking motion when “dancing on the pedals” takes a good bit of upper body strength, and if you’re riding a course (like Stetina’s Paydirt – 9 days and counting!) that requires a lot of humping up (and flying down, too) rocky hills, it calls for even more muscle.

Chris says: “Yup, strong shoulders are helpful out here in the Pinenuts!”

THIS brings me to me. 😉 You may remember this post about shoulder pain that I published in February. Well, I’m happy (ecstatic, really) to tell you that my “shoulder-life” is much, much better nowadays.

THAT’S not to say it was easy, nor am I done; the work and focus must continue, as it should, especially for us older riders. After twenty-one sessions of physical therapy, though, and because I’ve put in the work, I’m pretty much pain-free.

THE biggest benefit(s)? Stronger shoulders and core; less fatigue in the upper body during, and post-ride; and better control of my mountain and gravel steeds. And some ROI realized on the road bike, too.

WHAT exactly, can you do, you ask. Here’s a few suggestions (tested by yours truly on a regular basis):

  • Regular (at least three times a week) shoulder and core work. The Crossover Symmetry bands are fantastic and give me a great all-around workout.
  • Fitball, Bosu ball and medicine ball exercises.
  • Stretching. So often neglected by many athletes…at their peril. Trust me, this is one of THE MOST important things you can do. There is no doubt in my mind that if I wasn’t as flexible as I am I would have been seriously injured many times over the years. Just look at professional athletes…
  • Don’t neglect the hammies and lower back. Squats, btw, work wonders for these often over-looked muscle groups.
  • Sprint intervals. Yesterday, for example, I hit Zwift Yorkshire and did about 10 laps of the Duchy Estate course. One ~20″ sprint on each lap produced a nice, all-around soreness today.
  • REST. It’s in CAPS for a reason and admittedly it’s something I still have trouble doing. Easier to just ride and hammer, you know? Today, though, no exercise at all. Read this post for some specific insight on that rest ‘thang.

BE sure to get input from your coach, personal trainer, doctor, what have you, though, k? Every body is different.

I’D hate it if you injured yourself trying to get stronger or more flexible.

I hope this article was helpful. Feel free to pass on any tips you might have, too. We’d love to share ’em.

TAKE care, be safe and go kick those shoulders’ asses!

Shoulder Pain on the Bike? Me Too! Here Are My Three Takeaways

RIDING bikes can be hard on the arms and shoulders. I just finished a twelve-visit physical therapy stint for my bum left shoulder and while I would have preferred to not have the pain and mobility issues that caused me to finally go to the doctor I’m grateful in some weird way, that it did.

Physical Therapy

THANKS to my chiropractor, I got hooked up with Jason and Justin, and staff, at PT Revolution in So. Lake Tahoe. Having been to a few physical therapists in my life I found their focus on mountain athletes to be unique. They are also the only group where I received deep-tisssue work as part of the therapy. That was a bit painful (less so as I progressed through the visits) yet it was necessary to open up the muscles and tendons of the Rotator cuff to help expedite the healing process.

THAT was my first big takeaway…Massage, deep-tissue work, call it what you will, it’s a big part of rehabbing those shoulders.

Shoulder Work

COMBINE that with some exercises, most of which used the Crossover Symmetry system, and I’m on the road to recovery, with perhaps a caveat. As Justin said early on: “I think you may have some pathology going on in there…” So, an MRI is likely in my future. Still, the progress I’ve made has been surprising in that I didn’t think deep tissue massage and exercises would help at all; I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep on my left side, and doing household chores like shoveling snow and splitting wood wasn’t pretty.

SECOND takeaway, and I think Crossover Symmetry says it best: “Research shows that self-rehab helps to fix shoulder pain in several ways. First, movement optimizes your body’s natural healing process. Secondly, it builds a support structure around injuries that cannot heal, often restoring them back to full capacity. Lastly, by correcting the underlying movement issues it prevents the injury from progressing.”

Pain While on the Bike

THAT’S what motivated me to finally go see the doctor. I had been ignoring the problem since last summer, but once I started getting some twinges while riding, mostly when transitioning from seated to standing, I had finally had enough. After all, it is getting serious…the Deathride is coming this summer and I don’t have time for pain.

THAT will come in July!

Skeptic No More

IT’S been about two (2) months or so since I started this little adventure and I am definitely progressing. I was going to PT twice a week, and doing the exercises they gave me while there (after the deep-tissue work) and daily, on my own. Not only were my shoulders and arms getting stronger, so was my core; some of the exercises, while focused on the shoulder and arms, called for good engagement of the lower back, glutes and abs.

I’VE gotten authorization for six (6) more visits, which Jason and I thought we’d spread out over six (6) weeks, mostly so I can get that hands-on help that I think has been crucial to the healing process.

IN the meantime I’ve gotten my own Crossover Symmetry bundle (they’ve got a hip & core package too) and Mrs. California Alps Cycling and I installed the set up in our pain-cave.

THE system comes with some sweet add-ons including charts that are actually comprehendable and an online “Training Zone” with courses, a mobile app. and additional resources.

ACTIVATION is now a part of my pre-ride routine. It “prepares the muscles for activity by increasing blood flow” and it takes only minutes. When I do it I’ve noticed a difference in my pain level while riding. Yesterday I had no pain while riding at all!

RECOVERY post-ride is something I’ve also starting doing and it too has helped loosen up the shoulders and arms after they’ve been bearing the weight of my substantial upper-body. As you’ve likely noticed in the images above, pro cyclist arms and torso I do not have.

STRENGTH and mobility come next but I’ll wait until I’m cleared before I take on those aspects of the program.

THAT brings me to my third, final and most important takeaway, and yes oh clairvoyant one, you’ve guessed it already.

Strengthening those shoulders, and keeping them that way, as well as increasing flexibility, is vital to maintaining the three (3) areas of the shoulder: the scapula, clavicle and upper humerus, and the muscles and tendons that surround and support them.

SO with that said, or written in this case, I’ll sign off and see you out on the road.

YOU’LL know me as I’ll be the rider with the happy shoulders. 😉