In celebration of the Tour De France, the next myofascial meridian we will focus on is the Superficial Front Line (SFL); which functionally balances out the Superficial Back Line (SBL) in the sagittal (anterior-posterior) plane. *applause*
France is a bit far, but for those of you gearing up for local cycling spec events, listen up! Cycling requires strong quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, but, overusing these muscles without maintaining proper form can throw mechanics off balance and excessive wear on joints can occur.
As we know a common occurrence in medicine is to treat symptoms, and isolate the pain referral point, however, symptoms are not always where the problem begins but rather where they are being expressed, hence the need to prevent, rather then treat.
Road cyclists are susceptible to many overuse injuries. Most injuries usually occur at the hip or knee, with the forward posture of cycling we see many clients with rounded shoulders and unbalanced postural mechanics.
The solution is simple = prevention an take precautions by stretching your fascia. To understand the structural functionality better, let’s look at the anatomy.
The Superficial Front Line (SFL) runs on both the right and left sides of the body from the top of the foot to the skull including the shin, the quadriceps group, the rectus abdominis, sternal fascia and sternocleidomastoideus muscle, connecting to the temporal bone. In terms of muscles and tensional forces, the SFL runs in two pieces – toes to pelvis, and pelvis to head, which function as one piece when the hip is extended, as in standing.
In the SFL, fast-twitch muscle fibers predominate and function in movement to flex the trunk and hips, to extend the knee, and to dorsiflex the foot. Chronic contraction of this line creates many postural pain patterns, pulling the front down and straining the back and neck, thus cyclists are more predisposed to structural breakdowns in this train.
In Yoga, stretches are focused in backbends and sequenced stretching the front of the body – the SFL. As with cycling specific muscle recruitment, two obvious muscle group to release are; the quadriceps group and hip flexors. This opens the front of the hip and helps to reduce anterior pelvic tilt, which aids in reducing lumbar lordosis. Other key muscles that can lack functional integrity are the neck, which is important to release forward-head posture, as well as reducing stress to the SBL.
The breathing and meditation techniques in yoga can turn your simple ride or intense workout into a moving meditation and can power up your cycling in many ways.
Take 10mins a day, get off the bike and hit the mat. Here are a few key anterior opening stretches and quintessential backbends to implement into your routine:
- Warrior I and Kneeling Lunge – Virabhadrasana – opens hips, hip flexors and abdomen
- One legged King pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – hip and SI joint opener
- Fish Pose – Matsyasana – Opens the chest and throat/neck
- Upward Facing Dog/ Cobra – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – flexibility of the spine