Knowing which muscles are being used while cycling can not only make a big difference in the health benefits you receive from your vehicle, but can also help prevent injuries. After all, anyone who has spent time biking knows that cycling can be a rewarding workout and that with enough effort you can maximize your heart rate. However, the most notable side effect of a tough ride is the burning sensation of the feet.
However, it is not immediately clear which muscles are being used when cycling. In fact, cycling is certainly a lower body workout, but pedal strokes have different stages of movement that work on different muscles. European Journal of Applied Physiology..
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Which muscles are used when cycling?Quadriceps
The quadriceps are some of the largest muscles in the body, located in the front and lateral upper limbs of the thighs. As the name (quadriceps) indicates, there are four components: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.
According to experts from European Journal of Applied PhysiologyStudies have shown that the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis are most activated during the first half of the “propulsion” phase, the crank, which is the component that attaches the pedal to the bike, as it moves from top dead center. increase. An angle of 0 ° or 180 ° to the bottom.
Studies cited by European Journal of Applied Physiology, The peak activation point of the two vast muscles was found to be 80.8 °. Therefore, it is less than half the propulsion part of the pedal stroke. Studies show that the rectus femoris is activated faster than the rectus femoris.
Many people, especially more regular and experienced cyclists, use either cleats known as clipless pedals or more archaic toe clips to attach their feet to the pedals. At least one study, Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation MedicineDiscovered that when attached to a pedal, it changes the way the rectus femoris is activated. According to a journal study, when the rider used a toe clip, the muscles were activated 20 ° before the pedal stroke.
Which muscles are used when cycling?Hamstrings
The hamstrings behind the thighs are another major muscle group used during cycling and work closely with the quadriceps. A study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology, which evaluated the use of muscles at various points of pedal stroke, found that “during pedaling, optimizing quadriceps and hamstring muscle recruitment to generate force on the pedals. We conclude that it is desirable.
“These muscle groups are described as making different contributions at different stages of the pedal cycle, and different muscles within these groups can also be considered to make different functional contributions. increase.”
Not surprisingly, the hamstring muscles are mostly activated late in the pedal stroke. Studies have shown that the semimembranosus and semitendinosus muscles (two of the three hamstring muscles) are activated at crank angles of 150 ° to 270 °. The third hamstring muscle, the biceps femoris, is used at all stages of the pedal stroke. Journal of EMG and Kinesiology..
Which muscles are used when cycling?Tibialis anterior muscle
According to research Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Tibialis anterior-according to “the largest of the four muscles in the anterior compartment of the leg” Wake Forest Medical School, It is one of the “essential muscles” used in cycling. It runs down your shin.
According to a study in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, the tibialis anterior muscle was the only lower leg muscle that was activated in the first half of the pedal stroke, that is, before the crank reached a 180 ° angle.
However, despite its “essential” role in pedal stroke, studies by experts in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine have found that the tibialis anterior muscle is less active than during walking. “Cycling has been suggested to help rehabilitate patients with injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament of the knee, or the Achilles tendon,” the researchers write.
How important is it to stretch after cycling?
As we have seen, cycling uses different muscles in different ways and at different points on the pedal stroke. Experts have also shown that many of these muscles are used in association with each other. In particular, the muscles of the quadriceps and hamstring groups. These muscles are so commonly used that it may be a good idea to help them recover properly. So how important is it to stretch after cycling?
First, keep in mind that static stretching before cycling, or most forms of exercise, is now considered a bad habit. According to the report, stretching cold muscles can cause injuries rather than reduce the chance of injury. Mayo Clinic.. The Mayo Clinic also cites a study that found that pre-event stretches can actually reduce performance. Studies also show that stretches just before an event reduce the strength of the hamstring. I’ve shown. “This is especially important given how important hamstring muscles are to cycling.
Instead, we recommend dynamic warm-up.As an expert Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism According to the journal, “there was a shift from static stretching to dynamic stretching within the warm-up.” The warm-up movement stretches the muscles at the same time.
Few studies have focused on stretching after cycling, University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, Poland has found a correlation between stretching and injury prevention. In addition to warming up, stretching after cycling is “recommended” to prevent recurrence in the event of muscle soreness, researchers say. For more information, 10 daily stretches..
Muscles used when cycling
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