Next to the shoulders, the knees and lower back are some of the most injury prone areas of the body for mountain bikers. Whether they’ve been tweaked from a wreck or just hurt from long hours in the saddle, having knees and a lower back that can take the abuse of riding while staying injury free is very important.
One of the biggest causes of knee and low back pain pain is overusing the quads and low back to pedal and power your bike and not using the hips enough. The hips are the strongest muscles in your body and when they slack off the joints above and below them take a beating. That makes getting the hips online and doing their fair share the top priority.
Just like I talked about in my Bulletproof Shoulders article and video, you need to take 3 step approach:
1) Mobilize: The hips tend to get pretty tight and so it is important to use the foam roller and some basic mobility drills to get them to loosen up.
2) Pattern: The glutes (the politically correct term for butt cheeks) are usually not working like they should, which can put a lot of strain on not only the knees but the hamstrings as well. Doing a patterning drill so that we can re-establish the mind-muscle connection with the glutes is very important.
3) Strengthen: You need strong hips for mountain biking and once we have them loosened up and patterned we need to cement that better movement with some good strength training.
In this video I go over some of my best strategies for fixing the common dysfunctions I’ve found in the hips of riders so that you can increase your pedaling power and decrease the wear and tear on your knees and lower back (in the video I refer specifically to the knees but the same approach is needed for the lower back as well):
If the video is not playing you can check it out by clicking on this link.
By using smart training strategies to improve the quality of your movement your will get much more out of your strength training and riding efforts. No one wants to end up on the couch nursing a sore knee or low back after a long ride and with these strategies you can make sure you don’t end up there yourself.