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Body Conditioning: An important fitness tip to bring out your inner pro

07 March 2017

Body Conditioning: An important fitness tip to bring out your inner pro

This week we welcome a guest writer, Dr Joe Arrindell Jr. Dr Joe is a doctor of sports therapy, a certified osteopath and a performance coach. He shares some of his best tips with Cycology for preparing your body for competitive sports…

Cycling is a growing sport; it is in the top 20 sports of the world, and still climbing. Races like Tour de France, La Vuelta and Giro de Italia all contribute to the sport’s visibility. Plus the successes of Team Sky have also played a very important role in the awareness of cycling in Great Britain and beyond. But it’s not just cycling that’s in the spotlight these days. All over the world, people are becoming more active in general.

In today’s work orientated world, many people lead sedentary lifestyles (often sitting at a desk for more than eight hours a day). So staying active is important for everyone. With a sport like cycling, there’s also a great social element to it, which will give you the ‘get up and go’ you need to really push yourself. It’s a fantastic sport to share with your friends, family or Your Significant Other. And once you start racking up those miles, you may get a taste for competitive cycling.

For those who are interested in taking their cycling further, the island of Mallorca is a fantastic place to train. There are many training camps on the island and I have spent a number of years out here helping riders condition their bodies for the sport. One of the biggest questions I get asked is: “How can I train like a pro cyclist?”

There are many ways to train like a pro. But I prefer simple yet effective ways of training. A very important aspect of training is using the right technique for breathing. Believe it or not, most people do not breathe correctly; something which can negatively impact you in any form of sports, especially endurance sports such as cycling. The first step is to be aware of how you are breathing. Here are some tips:

  • Train your diaphragm
  • Practice better breathing

I teach the pro cyclists to activate their diaphragm before training and competition. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped, muscular partition separating the thorax from the abdomen in the body. It plays a major role in breathing, as its contraction increases the volume of the thorax and so inflates the lungs. Increasing the volume of the thorax is what we want in cycling but what many of us unfortunately don’t have!

Before you activate the diaphragm, notice the position of your spine. The more upright your spine, the more open up you are to breathe. By correcting your position alone, you can increase your oxygen intake by up to 1.5 litres.

To activate the diaphragm, we are going to start rubbing with our fingertips along the rib cage, up to the sternum. This process should take up to two minutes at most; there will be areas where you are sensitive, stay there a little longer. In my video below, my client is standing up but the optimum position is lying on your back, and you can activate at least once a day. If you are going out for a cycle, I would also recommend doing activating 10 minutes beforehand.

In this video you can also see a clear ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the testing of the length of hamstrings, the muscles that run from our back of our hip bones to the backside of our knee joint.

By activating the diaphragm you can already change the tension in your hamstrings, so imagine what you can do if you combine this with correct breathing? Good breathing helps to prevent injury and more importantly, it optimises the way we sit on the bicycle.

The body’s postural muscles are all slow twitch muscles; they need to hold up the body for long periods of time with minimal movement required to sustain position. If we are not breathing correctly (and therefore not getting enough oxygen to the muscles), they cannot function correctly to support our bodies in the continuous fight against gravity.

Simply put, better breathing equates to a better posture. And a better posture when riding helps to increase output and power.

I usually provide breathing exercises for my clients to take home: First breathe out through your mouth, pull the belly in to get the air out of the stomach. By breathing out first, you feel where the movement is going to take place (in the belly).

Remember, there should be no movement in the chest – this is very important.

Breathe in through the nose so that the belly goes out again. Keeping your hand on the belly is a good way to feel if you are doing this correctly.

You may be surprised at how difficult it is at first but practice makes perfect. I tell my clients to start with one minute and each day increase a minute until you get to 10 minutes. This can be done a few times a day.

In addition to breathing technique, what else can impact on your performance on the bike?

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Environment
  • Nutrition
  • Stress

These are very important factors that can limit our success on the bike. From my research, there a few conclusions that can be drawn. The most important one for me is: If there is fatigue (due to muscle fibres reaching limits), there should be an increase in muscle fibre recruitment. This means our brain reduces force output by reducing the neural drive to the muscles. And this takes me back to the importance of breathing; correct breathing is a ‘must do’ for every cyclist. If you are not breathing correctly, you are defending your body. If you are defending, you cannot be performing!

About the author:

After 20 years of learning from and working with the best people in the business, Dr. Joe Arrindell Jr decided to move to Mallorca to use the years of experience to grow and develop a sports therapy & osteopathic clinic.

The 2016 season, when he was not in the clinic working, he spent travelling with the IAM Swiss Pro Cycle team. Besides being one of the osteopaths for the team, he was also in charge of the strength and conditioning aspect for the complete team before and during the pro cycle season.

Dr. Joe Arrindell Jr has extensive connections with top athletes, coaches and specialists in different sports. Cycling, tennis, golf, swimming, track & field, football and martial arts are amongst the areas that he has experience in dealing with injuries and/or prevention.

Dr. Joe Arrindell Jr work is only finished when the desired result has been obtained!

One of his favorite mottos: Do whatever it takes to get the job done!

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