How to strength hip flexors for cycling.
After completing Ride London last year, high on my cycling achievements I cracked on with training for my next big event, double Hadliegh the Olympic course, twice in two months! I developed a niggle in my knee mid August in the middle of my training and frustratingly had to pull out of the nationals. After speaking to some friends in sports science and taking their advice of using rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E) with no ease on what seems dot be a very painful knee, I went to see a physio at Optimum Health. After explaining about my lack of training for Ride London and buying a second hand road bike I was assured it was fixable but told not to ride my road bike until I had a bike fit. It also was brought to my attention that I didn’t have a knee probable I had a hip flexor weakness.
I was given some exercises to do which really worked so I wanted to share them with you.
First of all I had to learn to bend from my hips, a basic hip bend should involve you moving your glutes backwards and keeping a straight back, then to stand up you should squeeze your glutes to push you back upright. This will make you activate your hip flexors instead of bending through your back.
Then you need to build single leg strength, standing on one leg with your hips level is a good place to start and also glute bridges, I have been doing single leg glute bridges and find there a great exercise.
The body weight Bulgarian squat is great for working right into your glutes and strengthening up this muscle group. Remember to keep your knee tracking your toe and your chest and shin parallel like in a normal squat.
A normal back squat develops power in these muscles as well as working your whole body.
Then there is the magic moves of pilates, personally pilates is one of the fundamental elements in my training as it keeps my core strong. I will talk about my favourite pilates exercises for cyclists in another post.
Once i had started to build up my strength i had a bike fit at Wyndymilla which was great it turned out i needed a new handle bar to bring my arms in so i wasn’t so stretched out.
I started my recovery rides on my mountain bike as i had very little issues when riding this bike and built up slowly to start with until i noticed i didnt have a pain any more, good times!
I have tried to keep up some of my exercises and realise now how important it is to do some strength and conditioning work to not only develop better cycling muscles but also to maintain good posture.
If you have any other hip flexor exercises i would be really interested to find out what has worked for you?