The following post is a contribution from guest blogger and Feldenkrais practitioner, Jacqueline Rubinstein.
I absolutely love riding my bike! Especially on these beautiful, sunshine days, but even in the rain, I love it. I love the feeling of freedom, fresh air, and exercise. I love nodding to other cyclists, sharing the joy of riding.
Recently, however, I was getting discouraged because I noticed my left shoulder was hurting after any ride that was more than 15 minutes long. What a drag!
So, I became a detective… What was I doing on my right side that I was not doing on my left side?
The first thing I noticed was my left hip was not moving. My right hip went up and down as I pumped my right leg, but my left hip stayed stationary no matter what my left leg was doing. So I started purposefully moving my left hip when my knee was bent and down when my leg was straight.
This felt strange at first, but good. When I scanned my body to see what else I felt happening, I noticed that my left shoulder moved more when I consciously moved my left hip. When my hip didn’t move, my left shoulder stayed held up by my ear.
For a few weeks I spent some of each ride focusing on my hips and shoulders moving, especially my stubborn left side. With this new movement, my shoulder and neck didn’t hurt after my ride.
Now, if I start to feel the little inklings of pain in my shoulder, I know that a few minutes of focusing on my hips will ease my shoulders. It’s awesome what a little extra awareness can do!
The next level of investigation I took on with my riding and self-use was to see if this increased hip movement would allow me to ride without hands. Turns out that if I do my old habitual way of biking, I will always steer off to the right and have to grab the handle bars. If I do my new way of biking with my left side active, then I can ride without holding on. Now I practice this trick on quiet streets.
There is so much that can be learned with just an extra dose of awareness. I would love to hear about any investigations you have done to get to the root of discomfort while biking.
And if you want to learn some simple movement exercises that will enhance your comfort while riding, as well as information about bike fitting, check out these upcoming workshops: http://www.feldenkraisportland.com/workshops.