Wheel Advice - Mid-Life Crisis|
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Iím too old for this. What can I do to keep riding?
I love to ride but lately it's gotten harder and harder. I work way too hard and travel too. Then I like spending time with my family too. Add this together and then when I hit the trials I'm sucking wind worse than my Shop Vac. Even worse than the oxygen-deprived state I'm forced to live whenever I ride, my back lights up like a blow torch. The pain is almost unbearable. Plus, I'm tired of getting passed by the young punks. Wisdom's not cutting it so how do I get back in riding shape?
I hear ya. Next year Iíll be on the backside of mid-life. Not an amusing prospect at all. You didnít give me your age, but Iím betting youíre in the same knee brace, so-to-speak. Weíre not alone. In the gym I hear many recently-old types grousing about how painful it can be to engage in a favorite sport. The knees hurt, the back hurts, the elbow hurts. Much of this pain comes from our active younger lives and much of it from the simple effects of aging.
Thereís a couple of things you can do. One, get a full-suspension bike. This will help cut down on the abuse your body take while mountain biking. Secondly, go see a physical therapist. He or she will likely start you on a core conditioning program. You may think that riding your bike is conditioning enough, but it isnít. When you mountain bike youíre working mainly your quads and hamstrings. The rest is sitting back, taking it easy. Trouble is, those quads are connected to the back, stomach, hip flexors and knees. Core conditioning works the trunk of your body, your stomach, back, hips, groinóall areas that support your legs. Let your core go long enough without exercise and youíll be primed for injury.
For my core conditioning I have one of those large rubber balls that looks like the old hippity-hops. Remember those? Most balls will come with a booklet of exercises, but your physical therapist will give you more specific exercises. Great exercises for core strength are crunches and supermans. Also yoga, pilates, and boxing can really help with core muscles.
Also helpful is overall strength training. In the gym I work out with dumbbells almost exclusively, as they help all the muscles that support your main muscles, like triceps, delts, etc. I also run and swim to help round out my conditioning. It means I donít spend as much time on the bike, but Iím also not in as much pain as I used to be. In fact, I recently got into a pick up game of basketball and was surprised not to feel any pain the next day. And that is worth the daily routine.
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