Cyclocross racers typically have a litany of post-race ailments, including a hacking cough and a sore lower back.
The cough likely comes from inhaling dust and other irritants on the course.
Our “cross back” seems to come from hunching over our handlebars while our hips get shaken around.
But we may be able to help prevent cross back as well as deal with it when it happens.
Everything Is Connected
Cyclists tend to have notoriously tight hip flexor muscles.
These muscles then shorten and are always switched on and overactivated.
This in turn rotates our pelvis forward so our lower back arches.
And that causes the spinal erectors and other back muscles to fire.
It’s a mess.
The mess causes serious imbalances in our whole system.
If Cross Back Is Already Affecting You
Foam rolling is an effective way to work out some of the kinks.
Rolling out your hip flexors can be a bit painful, so start slowly.
Use the roller along your spine as well, but be gentle on your spine.
Using a softball in your psoas is also a good tool
But be ready for screams; the softball does not feel good!
It works though!
Prevent Cross Back Through Strength Training
We need to strengthen our core, or glutes, and loosen up the hip flexors and psoas (the muscles that are between our hip bones).
Glute strengthening exercises include deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute bridges, Locust poses.
Here are some effective core exercises, particularly the Hollows.
Yoga Poses To Loosen And Strengthen Your Hips
Doing a runner’s lunge yoga pose is one of the best tools we have to open our hip flexors.
Kneel on your right knee with your left foot on the ground in front of you.
Inhale and then exhale and push your hips forward until your hip flexors tighten.
Don’t try to force the hip flexors open, just push them until they stop moving, inhale and repeat.
Doing a pigeon pose is another good tool for opening your hips, especially if you can move into a King Pigeon.
Tune into Yoga for Recovery on Facebook Live at Simple Endurance Coaching for weekly short yoga poses that usually work to open our hips.
It Might Be Your Bike Fit
Another cause of cross back might be bad bike fit.
Your seat might be too high or too low, which can cause your hips to be in the wrong place.
And if your bars are set too long or short, you can over-extend or compress your back and shoulders.
Talk to your local bike shop about getting a fit, or find a professional bike fitter.
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