Our friends at Cycle Oregon operate some of the best rides around. And they also have some of the best experts on their team. They bring along veteran physical therapist Megan Moseley, PT, LMT, of Bodywise on their rides to help riders feel great every pedal stroke of the way.
Cycle Oregon sat down with Megan to find out more about her approach to physical wellness on the bike, and we thought we’d share this expert advice with you.
Here’s how I see it: We’re spending hours bent over, pedaling away… overusing some muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, hip flexors) and over-stressing certain joints (knees, cervical and lumbar spine). It’s critical to recognize that our bodies are machines, and in my opinion, it’s our responsibility as their owners to understand how to operate them properly.
My philosophy is that everybody is created equal, and likewise every body is created equal. What I mean is, while it’s true that we come in all different shapes and sizes, there are some things that are universally true. I call these Every Body’s Rules.
Think about it: Everything we buy comes with a set of instructions, warnings or rules. We all know that if we read the instructions, heed the warnings and follow the rules, we’re going to get the best results. The same idea applies to our bodies. If we know how to operate and take care of our bodies, we can make them last as long as possible and get the most out of them. We can’t expect our bodies to continually perform, and not break down, unless we invest the time to understand and maintain them. These 10 rules are the foundation you’ll need to Become Bodywise.
Create Personal Space
Just as we humans function best when allowed our personal space, every joint in our bodies has what is called “joint space.” When a joint’s space is decreased, it can’t work the way it is meant to. This leads to degeneration, inflammation and pain.
Pain and inflammation happen for a reason. They’re our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. Give up the “no pain, no gain” attitude. Pay attention to your body!
Don’t Be Rigid
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not “normal” to feel stiff in the morning or after sitting for a while. Stiffness is a sign of inflammation. Using our bodies in ways they’re not meant to be used creates joint and muscle trauma, which leads to inflammation. By changing the way we move, we can stop the trauma and relieve the stiffness and pain.
Know Your Limits
Our bodies are amazing structures, but they have a limited ability to adapt or compensate. I think most people “get away with” poor posture and body mechanics for a while, but at some point they catch up with us. When our bodies can’t compensate anymore, the result is inflammation and pain.
Our individual joints and bodies as a whole work best when they’re balanced. This position of balance is called “neutral alignment.”
Change for the Better
Do you have a habit of slumping when you ride? Could you use some help in the posture department? Don’t worry—chronic postures and bad habits canbe changed. We simply need to learn better ways to hold and move our bodies, then practice them to form good habits.
Good flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue provides our bodies the opportunity to achieve neutral joint alignment and good posture.
The organization of movement patterns occurs when all the muscles around a joint work together as a team, each one doing its job to fire at just the right time. This organization allows the body to balance and maintain neutral joint alignment during activity.
Strive for Equality
When we move our bodies, it is important that all the joints do their fair share. If for some reason this doesn’t happen and there’s decreased movement in one area, there will be increased movement in other areas to make up the difference. The joints that move too much are the ones that become inflamed and painful, and degenerate too quickly.
Have you heard this one? “You’re getting older; it’s normal to have pain.” I’m not buying that, and neither should you. The aging process does not have to be a painful one. We simply need to learn how to operate our bodies properly.
That being said, the exercises I’m recommending take into account these 10 rules, and are detailed on my website.
You can see the entire calendar of statewide Cycle Oregon events on their website.