Prepare to unlock your true potential as a mountain biker with our guide to mobility training for MTB riders and racers. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential mobility exercises and techniques that will elevate your performance, increase agility, and help you conquer the most challenging trails and races.
Why Should Mountain Bikers Care About Mobility?
Mobility allows you to move freely on your bike and access a wide range of different body positions for different terrain and features. As well as the more dynamic side of mountain biking, good mobility will help a rider to remain comfortable, sitting and spinning for all day rides. Below, you can find a list of benefits that improved MTB mobility can give you:
By addressing muscular imbalances and enhancing joint mobility, mobility training helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries and strain, common in repetitive cycling sports like mountain biking. Improved mobility may also help you to avoid injury in the event of a crash.
Mobility training can lead to smoother pedal strokes and better body positioning, improving your efficiency on the pedals and conserving energy over long rides. When mobility is lacking, your body has to work around or through these areas, increasing fatigue, and reducing your efficiency.
Your mobility through your spine, but in particular thoracic spine and ribcage, will have a huge effect on your ability to breathe effectively. Tight, rounded upper backs, and restricted chest and shoulders make it impossible to breathe freely, meaning you have to work harder.
Improved Bike Handling
Greater joint mobility allows riders to manoeuvre their bikes more effectively, making it easier to handle obstacles, balance on tricky terrain, and react to sudden changes in the trail. It gives you freedom to get into strong positions and to create grip whilst maintaining a solid riding posture on the gnarliest tracks.
Longevity As A Mountain Biker
Regular mobility training can contribute to a rider’s longevity in the sport by preventing injuries, maintaining flexibility as they age, and allowing them to enjoy mountain biking for years to come.
How To Improve Your Mobility
The best approach to mobility training is to set aside 15 minutes each day, taking a little and often approach. This will give you a head start in progressing your mobility, and then after making some gains, you can reduce it to a few times per week to maintain your new found mobility. As well as these sessions, a well structured strength training programme (like these ones) should also work to improve your mobility by loading you and moving your joints through a full range of motion.
There are a number of key mobility areas that mountain bikers usually need to work on:
- Ankle – So you can drop your heels behind the pedal axles, and create grip.
- Knee – Mostly to prevent tightness in the heavily worked quads.
- Hip Flexor – So you can pedal freely and to reduce likelihood of lower back pain.
- Thoracic Spine – Your upper back, so you can lift your head and look down the trail as well as for proper breathing mechanics.
- Shoulders – Mostly for injury prevention and crash-proofing!
To give you some ideas, here is an MTB mobility routine that you can do at home or at the gym. It is just a small selection of the exercises and stretches that you can use to improve your own mobility. If you are really lacking in a certain area, then taking a more general, whole body approach like the one below probably won’t get you the results you need. Instead, you will need to do focused work on that area, over a period of weeks or longer to make a lasting change.
So, get started today, take action, and start looking after your body!