All About Balance - Street Survival

Simple Exercises For The Ride

If you recall my last article (Aug. '08), I spoke about muscular balance and how offsetting this natural equilibrium can alter spinal position. It is virtually impossible to be in perfect anatomical position every minute, but we can reverse a lot of the damage our daily routines cause. The key is to use exercises that specifically target the muscle groups responsible for poor posture. Another great way to combat poor anatomical alignment is to switch arms or sides in whatever you're doing. For example, if you have a baby, switch the arm that you hold her with or carry the car safety seat in the other arm. When you grocery shop, evenly load your bags into both arms if you're carrying them. Women should switch the shoulder they carry their pocketbook on, and so on. Try challenging yourself to use your nondominant side in every daily task if you can: It'll make a difference.

I've compiled a few exercises here that should help combat the negative effects of constantly sitting (like on a bike). They're safe when performed correctly, but you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

As the name implies, this first exercise "undoes" sitting. It shortens up the back and leg muscles that stretch during sitting and lengthens the abs and chest muscles.

Reverse Sitting
Start by standing with your hands straight up overhead, your feet shoulder width apart and slightly turned out. Slowly squat down by bending at the knees, bring your arms down in front of you, and lower yourself until your hands touch the floor. As you stand, keep your arms straight and begin to move them upwards so that in the finished standing position your hands are back up over your head. At the top of this movement you want to move your hips forward slightly to stretch the abdominal wall. Perform three sets of 15-20 repetitions. As you get stronger, try holding a dumbbell in your hands to add resistance.

This next exercise addresses imbalance of your body's sides while also promoting back health.

Lateral Lunge With Reach
Standing with your feet together, take a step out to one side and bend at the knee, lowering your body while reaching to the floor with your hands. Make sure that when you step out both feet are facing straight forward and that the foot on the bent leg isn't turned out. Lower yourself only to where you feel comfortable, but challenge yourself to go lower as you improve. Push off the outside foot and bring your feet back together into the standing upright position with perfect posture. Perform three sets of 15-20 repetitions per side. Again, as your strength increases you can increase the difficulty by adding a weight.

The next exercise is one you definitely don't want to do while wearing chaps or at a group ride! This movement has it all: balance and stability as well as abs, lower-back and core work, to name a few. Don't be afraid to look silly-it's a must-do exercise!

Cross-Spinal Stabilization
Begin by getting on all fours with your head in a neutral position. Start by bringing one knee forward while simultaneously pulling the opposite elbow back. Bring your knee as far forward as you can and your elbow as far back as possible by rounding your back and contracting your abs. Then return the same arm and elbow to the start position, but continue upward as high as you can bring them. That counts as one repetition. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions on each side.

It's probably hard to believe that these three little movements can have a positive effect on your body, but trust me, they'll work wonders. Consistency is key with these movements, however, so try doing them three times a week; all in all, they'll only take about 10 minutes. You just can't beat the time-to-benefit ratio. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at: alfonso.moretti@hotmail.com.

_Alfonso Moretti is a long-time cruiser rider and personal trainer with his own fitness studio in Bethel, Connecticut. His current ride is a 2004 BMC Chopper.__

Reverse Sitting 1
Reverse Sitting 2
Reverse Sitting 3
Lateral lunge with reach 1
Lateral lunge with reach 2
Cross-Spinal Stabilization 1
Cross-Spinal Stabilization 2
Cross-Spinal Stabilization 3