You know what? In life, generally, most things function better when there is some sort of balance. A balance within the environment is always a good thing and problems always occur when that balance becomes out of kilter. Balancing someone’s everyday life between work and play is always a great thing and when it is right, you feel the benefits in all aspects of life. Even in relationships, whether that be in love or business, a balance between people and what they offer to a relationship will make them together stronger than their individual selves.
This is also true with the human body and especially the biomechanics that govern all of our movements involving our joints, which are governed by agonist and antagonistic actions of muscles, which work in tandem and in balance to maintain the health of that joint and therefore the efficiency of its movement. Any imbalance between these two muscles working together will inherently cause issues within the joint on which they work. The most obvious example of an agonist and antagonist muscle working together will be the bicep and tricep. During a simple bicep curl movement the agonist muscle will be the bicep as it contracts and the tricep, the antagonist, will relax, allow the bicep curl to happen. The roles are reversed in a Tricep press movement where the tricep becomes the agonist and the bicep the antagonist working together in balance to complete the movement.
In cycling, the most important example of this we have is placed between our quadricep and our hamstring. Now for non cyclists, even extremely fit individuals whose sport or activity involves feet on the ground, you will find a dominance of quadricep in the legs. This dominance is caused primarily and simply due to the gravitational forces that constantly act upon our bodies constantly pushing us into the ground beneath us. Any move against gravity like running, jumping or even standing up from a seated position will primarily recruit the quadriceps. This, over time results in the quad dominance we spoke about earlier. Failure to offset this with good exercise and trying to address this balance issue between quad and hamstring may result in posture changes that can result in imbalance and injuries to ankles, knees and especially problems through the hip, the hip flexor and lower back. Funnily enough these just happen to be the main physiological biomechanics issues the human body experiences through aging.
Cycling is a fantastic way of addressing this issue. The repeated action of pushing and pulling through the pedal stroke activates the hamstring in a way most other activities simply cannot. Pulling through back of the pedal stroke on every rotation will recruit the hamstring to such a level that even late comers to the world of cycling can readdress previous imbalance and posture issues. Also, because when seated in a saddle with your feet fixed or strapped into the pedals, you are effectively eliminating or at least drastically reducing the effect of gravity on your body, giving those joints in the lower body a wonderful release from the gravitational force of everyday.
Balance is good for everyone and everything. As we can see, cycling can give your body a much needed balance in an area most other activities simply cannot. Always concentrate on the pull through the back of the pedal stroke to promote the engagement of those hamstrings and wonderful things will happen. You will improve yourself as a functional human being, you will 100% reduce the possibility of suffering from lower body issues as you get older and also as an extra incentive you will recruit more muscle as you ride. More muscle means more power and more power means you shed loads more calories. I mean, let’s face it, bringing balance to your life is just a win win… isn’t it??
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