Bulletproof Knees & Lower Back

Sep 7, 2011
by James Wilson  
Next to the shoulders, the knees and lower back are some of the most injury prone areas of the body for mountain bikers. Whether they’ve been tweaked from a wreck or just hurt from long hours in the saddle, having knees and a lower back that can take the abuse of riding while staying injury free is very important.

One of the biggest causes of knee and low back pain pain is overusing the quads and low back to pedal and power your bike and not using the hips enough. The hips are the strongest muscles in your body and when they slack off the joints above and below them take a beating. That makes getting the hips online and doing their fair share the top priority.

Just like I talked about in my Bulletproof Shoulders article and video, you need to take 3 step approach:

1) Mobilize: The hips tend to get pretty tight and so it is important to use the foam roller and some basic mobility drills to get them to loosen up.

2) Pattern: The glutes (the politically correct term for butt cheeks) are usually not working like they should, which can put a lot of strain on not only the knees but the hamstrings as well. Doing a patterning drill so that we can re-establish the mind-muscle connection with the glutes is very important.

3) Strengthen: You need strong hips for mountain biking and once we have them loosened up and patterned we need to cement that better movement with some good strength training.

In this video I go over some of my best strategies for fixing the common dysfunctions I’ve found in the hips of riders so that you can increase your pedaling power and decrease the wear and tear on your knees and lower back (in the video I refer specifically to the knees but the same approach is needed for the lower back as well):

Views: 11,264    Faves: 114    Comments: 4

By using smart training strategies to improve the quality of your movement your will get much more out of your strength training and riding efforts. No one wants to end up on the couch nursing a sore knee or low back after a long ride and with these strategies you can make sure you don’t end up there yourself.

MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for the Yeti World Cup Team and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. As a regular contributor to several popular magazines and websites, James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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  • 7 1
 Thanks James. Your videos are always welcome. After years of accidents and riding, I would not be able to ride as much as I do without preventative maintenance.
  • 2 0
 dug this up 8 months after first seeing it to show my g/f - a remedial pilates instructor. she loves it, will use it. a really good approach not just for riders but extremely handy for those of us who drive a desk for a living. this can result in very tight hip flexers, which as James explained results in the knee and ankle doing too much work
  • 2 1
 Wow didn't realise how outa shape I was till I did really good exercises thanks
  • 1 1
 To late mullered my knee doing burpies!! and to make it worse no-one knows what I have done, need an MRI scan!!! no-more mtbing for a while for me!!
  • 1 0
 Does this also prevent against generic knee pain when riding? something I've had a problem with...
  • 2 1
 Generic knee pain is just an overuse injury waiting to happen and is caused by the same factors I refer to in this video. Its like the alignment in your car - you can drive a long way but eventually things start to wear out unevenly. Fix the alignment, stop the uneven wear and tear.
  • 1 0
 True, all of my life my right knee would bother me, then one day it happened, I fell doing a wheelie and tore my ACL.
  • 2 0
 Did he say the Bulgarian Squat? If yes i `m proud of us Smile
  • 1 0
 do these drills apply if your rehabilitating from a knee injury or should you wait till your fully healed?
  • 3 0
 This would be for when you have been cleared from PT to start training again. Acute rehab is the first step, getting everything back online and working together is the second step.
  • 1 0
 I have been recovering from a knee surgery after some serious ligament damage. Some elements of this my physio therapist allowed me to include after the 10wk period. They have accelerated recovery for me, but I must stress making sure it's OK with your Surgeon/Physio therapist before adding any extra routines to your physio exercises.
  • 1 0
 I love this excersise! I couldnt walk for days after doing them though LOL. But I really felt a difference biking. Thanks
  • 1 0
 Yeah James, good job teaching these drills.
  • 1 0
 I'm starting now bound for the tips!

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