Functional Movement Makes you a Better Rider

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

I got a chance to catch up with The Human Performance Center owned by Fred and Kele McDaniel. They are based out of Santa Fe New Mexico and specialize in functional integration. Outside Magazine featured their facility here awhile back. We talked about importance of stretching, taking in the right supplements and a few tips to make you a better rider. You can check out some videos here for good core and leg exercises, plus they have a stretching manual for sale, Flexibility for Cyclist which is available online.

Describe your philosophy.
We call our technique “Functional Integration Technique”.  It’s based on two major philosophies:  functional movement and neurological integration. If you are a cyclist, then the focus is on creating a stable foundation to the core so the body can be more efficient on the bike. The neurological component is not so simple.  For example, let’s say you have a cyclists who has low back pain, gone through a thorough bike fitting process and still can’t get out of pain. For example, one cause of low back pain in cyclists is generated by poor breathing techniques that are a result from an malfunctioning diaphragm.

What kind of supplements do you recommend?  

We like Designs for Health .  Their products are highly bio-available and you can feel the effects.  One of our favorite products for athletes they make is called “Electrolyte Synergy”.  Mineral deficiency or imbalances are so common in athletes and this product is a simple way to get the minerals back in balance.  The minerals in Electrolyte Synergy are developed by Albion, a company in Switzerland   The way they process the mineral makes it available for absorption in the intestines where as most mineral formulas are too large to be absorbed in the guts and are just passed through the guts and out through the elimination process.

What do you think the 5 best exercises are for cyclists?

If we had to limit to 5, it would be a combination of some stability and strength exercises with some flexibility moves. Here are 5 for stability and strength and 5 flexibility moves.  


5 Best Areas to Stretch for Cyclist



Pretzel (lateral hips)

Ilio-tibial band


* all of these are illustrated in their book



5 Best Exercises for Cyclists

Lunge/hop lunge

Push up with feet on ball

Combo hip extension over ball

Reverse crunch

Oblique raise


 Why should I stretch?

1.   Long means strong – Movements like cycling cause repeated shortening of muscles due to a high volume of muscle contraction in the pedal stroke.  Shortening of muscle fiber causes a loss in contractile ability, thus a loss of strength in that muscle.  Stretching those muscles allows the muscle to contract more easily, thus producing more strength.  

2.  Decrease pain – Stretching can provide a sensation of more “space” in the muscle/tendon allowing you to move through life with greater ease.  A lot of cyclist have pain in their body due to limited mobility in a muscle or a group of muscles that work together. Knee pain, low back pain and neck pain are all common pains in cyclists that can typically be prevented by stretching regularly. 

3.  Decrease stress – Stretching provides a sustained proprioceptive (neurological) feedback to the brain from the muscles, fascia and joints being stretched.  Sustained proprioception creates a calming sensation to the nervous system.  ie.  You feel good after stretching

4.  Breathe easier –  Did you know that stretching the muscular and fascial system relieves tension throughout the whole body and can allow the diaphragm to work with less effort. It also can free up the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) to allow greater motion between each rib. 
5. Decompress accumulated tension – Stretching regularly an “emptying out” effect on the nervous and muscular systems.  Stretching after a ride allows the muscles and fascia to be reset to their original place of tension.  Accumulated tension is the cause of nearly all discomfort created in life in general!

6.  Improve Circulation – Stretching will increase fresh oxygenated blood flow to your muscles.  Improved circulation will speed recovery after a hard ride.  Pain in and around joints is often caused by poor capillary blood supply and stretching can improve this. 

7.  Decrease post exercise aches and pains – Stretching after a work out will keep muscles, tendons and fascia from immediately shortening and tightening as they cool down.  This is crucial if you are serious about enjoying the sport of cycling.

8.  Improve posture –  Stretching will prevent your body from taking on the posture of the bike:  Bent forward at the hips, head hanging forward from the shoulders, rounded shoulders & the classic tucked tail.


Filed to: