Stretching torso helps cyclers

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Cycling recreationally or competitively requires a great deal of length, strength and endurance in the torso muscles to hold the body in a forward-flexed posture while riding. Here’s a few exercises to enhance cycling enjoyment and performance.

Power split lunges: To develop strength and power as a cyclist, try this exercise. Start in a lunge position with the right leg forward, the right knee over the ankle and the back knee just under the hips. Start by dropping the back knee toward the ground, then explosively lunging upwards, switching legs and landing with the left leg forward and the knee over the ankle. Continue for 30-60 seconds. If you require a more low-impact option, instead of jumping into the leg switch, just step and lunge alternating legs.Table top: Lie on your stomach. Position the elbows under the shoulders. Contract the abdominal muscles, then slowly lift your body onto your toes and elbows. Keep the back straight and shoulder blades pulled together. Remember to breathe. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.Stretch over the ball: Curl backward and move your feet out until you are lying comfortably over an exercise ball with your head, neck, shoulder and back comfortably supported and arched over the ball. Extend your arms out to the side. You should feel a great stretch in your chest, shoulders and back. This is a great stretch for cyclists. It places the body in a position that counteracts the strain on the back that is experienced from cycling in a flexed position for an extended time. Hold this stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

You can purchase a stability ball at your local stores such as Target or Sports Authority.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.