Tour de France 2016Posted on July 20th, 2016
2016 sees the 103rd Tour de France. It is seen by many, as the most prestigious road cycling race in the calendar. Senior physio, Heather has a close link with cycling as she combines working at Harris & Ross, with working for British Cycling at the Manchester Velodrome. For this reason and owing to a passion of hers, she has been following it very closely recently.
The tour presents many different challenges along the many stages; from some brutal hill stages, to flat out time trial stages and then those stages that come right down to the bunch, sprint meters from the line after hours of gruelling work, to be decided by a lunge and photo!!
To compete at this level you must be at the top of your game physically and also, have the right team behind you to get over the finish line and often to the start!
So what are my top tips for someone starting out in road cycling or training for their next sportive?
A comfortable bike fit is key. If you are new to riding, spending any amount of time in the same position will throw up some issues with tightness. Making sure you find a position you can tolerate spending time in, is key to continuing to enjoy those long rides.
For the more experienced rider, who perhaps wants to get more from their training or to improve their position on the bike, then a professional bike fit can be worth its weight in gold from a comfort point of view (everyone has experienced saddle soreness at some point), or to help you gain more power and speed for less effort!
As well as a good bike position, looking after your body is hugely important.
The professionals on the tour will have invested a huge amount of time and resource in finding the most efficient riding position; however, if the riders and their teams do not keep their bodies in good condition to cope with the demands of road cycling, this can be the difference between a rider winning a stage or not making it to Paris!
Frequent physiotherapy and sports massages would be many cyclists’ preferred option. Not to forget during heavy racing and training periods, receiving daily treatment is ideal; although this isn’t always feasible, especially for none professionals. Many find monthly (or even fortnightly sessions in a heavy training block) helps to maintain the body, but most will tell you they need to do some self maintenance in the form of stretching, yoga or pilates and some self torture on the foam roller (everyone has a love/hate relationship with a roller) between sessions.
Common injuries in cycling are usually around the knee and lower back. If you are new to cycling, foam rolling the areas that would benefit most from some attention would be the quads, ITB, gluts and lower back.
A physiotherapist is well equipped to advise you on exercise and treatment, having one that understands the needs of a cyclists (including, working with some who will be lining up in the race this year!) will help you in your cycling journey.
Heather is based at our Manchester clinic. To book an appointment call us on 0161 832 9000.