By Jacqueline Rubinstein, Feldenkrais Practitioner
Portland is the most bike-friendly city I have every biked in. I remember the first time I took off on a bicycle here, and how ecstatic I was by the amount of bike paths there were. It still tickles me that I can just head out my door with a general idea of the direction I need to go and find bike paths that basically connect the whole way to my destination.
Even in this bike-conscious city, it is still our responsibility to take measures to be as safe as possible. One thing I have been thinking about a lot lately is the action of turning to look behind me to check for cars, bikers, and other hazards.
As bikers, we know how important it is to check our blind spots. We are vulnerable, with just a helmet to cushion an accident, so we need to be diligent in knowing what is going on around us. Yet, there are those days when I have slept funny on my neck, pulled a muscle dancing, or just felt extra stiff. Can you relate to these types of days when it is not as easy to check your blind spots?
Eeeks! If you can’t turn and check to see whose coming, you’re in danger of a serious accident, as well as injury and pain. Trouble with turning can lead to pinched nerves, arthritis, and other sorts of chronic pain. And well, it just makes biking a lot less fun.
The trick to healthy turning is to have your whole self moving together, so that when you want to turn to look over your shoulder, you aren’t doing an unconscious movement that is making this task more challenging for you.
You’d be surprised how common it is for someone to want to look to the left, but in trying to do so unconsciously moves her shoulders, hips, or even eyes to the right. If you are having trouble looking over your shoulder, try heightening your awareness and feeling what each part of your body is doing, and then encourage each part to turn together.
Your eyes, head, shoulders, ribs, and hips should all turn in the same direction together to make looking over your shoulder as easy and pleasurable as possible. I recommend trying this out while biking down a quiet street, so you feel secure enough to let your attention zoom into how you are using yourself in turning.
I know it sounds simple, but just using your awareness to check in with what you are doing and what parts of yourself you can encourage to move with you, can have a profound effect on your comfort and safety.
Go ahead and try it. And let me know what you discover.
Want to try out a simple, 6-minute movement exercise to deepen your understanding of healthy turning?
Sign-up to receive my free gift: Checking Your Blind Spots for Bikers and gain a clear understanding of how to turn your whole self in one fluid action. In just 6 minutes, you will feel a significant improvement in the quality of your movement—that means ease, comfort, and turning that will keep you safe while biking! This exercise is also great for any chronic pain in your upper back, neck, and shoulders. To receive this gift, go to www.feldenkraisportland.com/checking-your-blindspots-for-bikers.
Read another post from Jacqueline about Hips and Shoulders