Releasing hunched-up shoulders
While some Pashley Princesses may take a more upright seat, the majority of cyclists lean forward over their handlebars – rounding the upper back and closing in on the chest. This folded-forward position collapses in on the lungs, making it hard to breathe a strong, full inhale and the rounding of the upper back can also create tension around the neck and shoulders – already an area susceptible to holding stress. Try these simple yoga poses to relax and release your shoulders, open up your chest and counter-act the effects of hunching-over handlebars.
1. Simple chest stretch
Standing tall, interlace your fingers behind your back, with your palms facing towards you. Keeping your spine straight and core engaged, lift your hands away from your body. Take five deep breaths, gently trying to move the hands further away from you on every exhale. You can take this a bit further by softly bending your knees, hinging at the hips and folding into a forward bend. As you lean forward, you should able to lift your hands a bit further. Hold the forward bend for a further 5 breaths and slowly roll up to release your hands.
2. ‘Cow Face’ Arms
This pose will really release tight shoulders. If you can’t grab hold of your hands in this pose, don’t worry – you’ll still reap the benefits by using a strap, or the belt of your dressing gown will do. Standing or sitting with a straight spine, raise your right elbow in the air, so your right fingertips point down towards your waist. Your right tricep should be alongside your ear. Take your left hand behind you, with your elbow pointing down and your left fingers either locking with the right fingers, or grabbing on to the belt. Breathe here, lifting your chest and trying to keep the right elbow alongside the right ear. Hold each side for a minute.
3. Neck and shoulder rolls
Release tension and maintain motion in the neck, shoulders and upper back by gently ‘rolling’ the neck and shoulders. Take an inhale and as you exhale, lower your right ear to your right shoulder, drawing your left shoulder away from your left ear. Inhale back to centre and exhale to the left. Inhale to centre, exhale lower your chin to your chest and feel the lengthening of the back of the neck. Repeat this sequence again.On the next repetition, as you bring your right ear to your right shoulder, use the exhale to gently roll your chin towards your chest and your left ear over to your left shoulder. Continue to repeat this ‘semi circle’ movement, extending to a full ‘circle’, taking your head back and raising your chin to the air – if it feels ok with your neck.
To roll your shoulders, place your hands on your shoulders so you elbows stick out at the side. As if swimming front crawl, roll the shoulders forward and back. It’s better to let one shoulder follow the other, rather than moving both at the same time. These rotations will create synovial fluid – a natural lubricant which should prevent the joints from getting sore and stiff.
Sally is running a ‘Yoga for Cyclists’ workshop on Saturday 17th September. Quote ‘Cyclodelic’ when booking and save 10%. For details of the workshop, as well as other drop-in yoga classes Sally teaches around Hackney and Islington, visit www.stretchingthecity.com