Friday, 14 June 2013

Fitness Friday - The Core of the Matter Edition - Part 3

After a successful part 1 and 2 as seen by our readers, CL from FitnessLab concludes the Edition with a part that is must read for al.. Enjoy and Stay Dirty!

The Core of the Matter pt 3

In our last addition to core training for cycling, we put the last piece of the puzzle into our equation and that is the scapula-humeral joint stabilization. This articulation is made up of the scapula, shoulder girdle and shoulder joint. Together these work together to stabilize the upper portion of our “core” providing a stable platform for our arms to work from.
Even though our arms don’t actually contribute a whole lot to cycling propulsion and power output they do lend themselves to support our upper body maintaining a strong posture when we are cycling. As we know, when our posture/form deteriorates, our performance is sure enough the next thing to go. Therefore we need to train our shoulder stabilizers so that the arms maintain the posture ensuring optimal performance.

Our shoulder stabilizers are comprised of a few muscles namely; the rotator cuff, Serratus Anterior and lower Trapezium. Despite the strong collection of muscles aiding in shoulder stabilization, the shoulder joint is still quite an unstable junction and susceptible to injuries mainly impingement. Impingement injuries are a rarity in cycling but due to the hunched over posture encouraged through cycling, exercises that counter this posture are needed to ensure muscular balance in the body.  So even though these exercises may have no direct influence on our cycle performance, they will help maintain our muscle balance between front and back thus preventing possible injury later done the line. We can refer to this as prehab training.

There are three exercises that we will focus on when training the shoulder stabilizers. External rotation, Scapular doming and wall slides. These can be performed prior to your strength workout and are great to warm the shoulder joint up if the focus is upper body.

The external rotation is an exercise we use to help counter balance the shoulder joint muscles as internal rotation is the prominent position the shoulder finds itself when holding the handlebars. So to prevent dominance of theses muscles we must train their counter movers (antagonists) to maintain shoulder health. This is our prehab training preventing future imbalances or injuries.

External Shoulder Rotation

 The scapular doming exercise not only encourages upper back mobility through the hollowing and rounding of the thoracic vertebra but it trains the Serratus anterior muscles to keep the scapula fastened to the ribcage.  If the scapula is allowed to lift away from the ribcage, it upsets the surrounding muscles’s length and tension with their corresponding bones and joints. This will result in a dominance of other muscles around the shoulder joint which compromises the shoulder joint’s stability and mobility.

Scapular Doming

Lastly, our wall slide exercise combines both training of the external rotators of the shoulder and the Serratus anterior. If performed correctly it also minimises the use of the upper Trapizuim muscle which often overrides weaker and untrained shoulder and upper back stabilizing muscles. Our neck pain that we get from cycling is often related to stiff and tight upper traps. Minimising the involvement f these muscles during cycling goes a long way to ensuring a strong posture and improved performance.

Wall Sliding

Each exercise can be performed twice with 15-20 reps with 100% correct form.

Happy riding!

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