What can a Biokineticist do for you?

Life through movement

As a mountain biker there are a host of healthcare practitioners out there who can help you. Help you improve your performances, help you recover faster, help you avoid injuries and generally just help you to enjoy your time on the bike.  We all know that a Dietitian can do for us, and a session with a Skills Coach will pay immediate dividends, but what is a Biokineticist? So in the interests of rider education we called on Stellenbosch based Biokineticist Tammy Reader to provide you with a crash course.

What is a biokineticist?

Broken down, the word biokinetics means life through movement. Movement is a defining element of the quality of life. Biokineticists prescribe scientifically based physical activity programmes to promote health, maintain and improve physical abilities and facilitate the rehabilitation of injury. They’re medically trained therapists that are recognised and registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and their primary function is to improve physical functioning and health, through exercise.

Biokineticists have a broad scope of practice and depending on the reason for your consultation; a biokineticist can evaluate and measure posture, body composition, blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol levels, lung function, heart rate, physical fitness, muscle strength, endurance, power and flexibility. Once this individualised assessment is complete, the biokineticist will prescribe an exercise programme specific to your needs. This will aim to improve your physical status and quality of life, by targeting your goal of rehabilitation, fitness, wellness or high performance.

Biokinetics and Mountain biking

Although hours in the saddle are extremely important, it is also imperative to keep your muscles balanced, through strengthening areas that will prevent injuries and complement your pedalling. It is important to train to cycle, not the other way around. Cyclists need to work on improving posture and core mobility, stability and strength. While sitting for hours on the bike, it’s very important to maintain healthy posture to avoid back and neck injuries. Correct posture also improves your breathing ability, allowing more oxygen to reach your muscles, for greater endurance and better recovery.

Cycling incorporates all of your major leg muscles and is a comprehensive leg workout. However, overuse injuries are a concern and if imbalances in your body are present, compensation could increase your risk of injury.

Cyclists often complain of lower back, knee, foot and neck pain. Assuming your bike set up is correctly, these overuse injuries often occur due to the repetitive nature of cycling. So, what can a biokineticist do for you? A biokineticist would first identify muscle imbalances, weaknesses and/or limited flexibility. Secondly, they would prescribe various exercises to rectify this. Strong legs and core, with adequate upper body endurance, increases your riding efficiency, especially when motoring through technical terrain. A few individualised strengthening/stretching exercises should be done at least three times a week. This will help you manoeuvre around difficult obstacles with ease and efficiency during longer rides.

Just as your technical skills form a central part of your overall endurance, the exercises prescribed by a biokineticist will improve your ability to perform on the bike. Your ability to maintain a good posture will help with breathing and reduce discomfort which in turn will reduce the energy you need to expend. It’ll also make it easier to concentrate on the trail helping you take the right line, which also reduces the energy you waste.

Your individualised strengthening and stretching programme will complement your time in the saddle. Cross training and core conditioning can help distribute the forces generated in mountain biking and decrease overuse injuries. Your core forms a vital platform that helps power your legs during cycling and supports you while tackling tricky single tracks. It promotes stability and helps you to transfer force to your arms and legs. So what is your core? Roughly speaking, your torso, can be referred to as your core. The most important core muscles form a cylindrical, solid base of support and lie in your stomach and lower to mid back area. The front side of the cylinder includes the abdominal muscles, while the back side of the cylinder includes the lower back muscles. The bottom of the cylinder comprises the pelvic floor and the top of the cylinder comprises your diaphragm. The peripheral core muscles include the hips and shoulder/neck muscles. Core exercises improve your balance and stability, not only having a positive effect on your cycling, but also improving your overall daily functioning.

Why should I see a Biokineticist?

Whether you currently have a nagging injury, want to improve your cycling or balance your body, a biokineticist would be able to help you! Biokineticists help build a functional, sports specific program, tailor-made for you to improve your weaknesses and achieve your riding goals.

Tammy Reader is a registered biokineticist based in Stellenbosch. She is a mountain biker and trail runner and enjoys incorporating her practical experience into her work. For further information on biokinetics you can email Tammy at: reader.tammy@gmail.com

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