Stay in shape for cycling, with Cheyne Voss

Stay in shape for cycling, with Cheyne Voss

If like us, you've spent the summer indulging in one too many pub beer gardens mid-bike ride, then maybe it's time to start thinking about getting back in shape before the festive season rolls back around. 

We know, everything hurts. Us cyclists aren't renowned for being a partiucalrly supple bunch - bad backs, knees and necks are all too common (being hunched over a metal frame for hours on end will do that to you). Fear not, our friends at Ten Health and Fitness are here to help. We spent some time with world-renowned physiopherapist and Ten Director Cheyne Voss who shares his tips below on how to avoid injury and get in shape for cycling. Hailing from Auckland NZ, Cheyne moved to London in 2010 and was a founding member of TenPhysio, helping build a team of some of the best Physiotherapists and Sports Massage Therapists in the country.

On top of that, we have a package of 5 free cycling specific Pilates classes to give away put together by Cheyne and the team at Ten designed to alleviate the day to day physical stresses we all face from life on the bike. Simply upload your best city cycling shots to Instagram, Facebook or twitter with the hashtag #freedomofthecity and we'll announce the winner at the end of the October. There’s also an exclusive 20% discount on all Ten Pilates classes you can take advantage of now by quoting LUMO 20 when booking into a class. 

Cheyne, you’re originally from Auckland, what persuaded you to move your life to the other side of the world to London?

My wife and I fancied a new challenge, and London seemed like a logical option, as so many Kiwis had done it before. I remember talking to a guy on the plane who couldn’t believe we were moving to a city we had never been to before. We had one week’s accommodation sorted in Chelsea and a few suitcases, the rest is history.

One of my first striking moments working in London, was when a patient came in to see me, heard me speak, asked if I was from New Zealand, and then said ‘Great stuff, I’ve been looking for a New Zealand Physio for the last year’.  Before then, I had no idea about, the disparity between the undergraduate degrees or the Northern vs Southern Hemisphere mindset.

You’ve completed the brutal La Marmotte amateur cycle race twice, the second time around coming in in a very creditable 470th out of 10,000 riders. What were the three best pieces of advice you took on board to achieve that?

  1. Understand your power output, and monitor it in all your training sessions (this enables you to understand your potential racing output).
  2. Training smarter, not harder. Not all sessions need to be hours and hours. Power-based targeted interval sessions – absolutely brutal, but under an hour long, are what made the biggest impact on me.
  3. Recovery. Some say recovery sessions are more important than your training sessions (but I’m sure they still expect people to train). Riding whilst keeping your wattage below a specified number - known as ‘active recovery’ - is better for you than full rest. This coupled with regular foam rolling sessions was key.

Cheyne during La Marmot 2015

What inspired you towards the world of physiotherapy? 

My brother was a world-class age group athlete (1500m and 3k on the track). He was New Zealand champion and was due to compete at the world junior championships, only he broke down with an Achilles problem. This started my interest into the human body, recovery and performance. Looking back, he actually had a terrible passive Physio programme. If he’d had proper causative treatment, he would have been an Olympic champion I’m sure.

What are the most common cycling-related problems you see hobbling through your door?

Anterior knee pain (patella femoral syndrome) is by far the most common injury I see in cyclists. It’s pain at the front of the knee joint, mainly from overuse, poor set up (more often than not the seat is too low or too far forward), tight ITB and lateral structures and weak stabilises. Most of which are easily preventable with a good stretching/foam roller programme, proper bike fit and a Pilates strengthening programme.

"Anterior knee pain is by far the most common injury I see in cyclists... mainly from overuse, and poor set up".

Cheyne demonstrates how to 'set yourself up for injury free cycling' 

You’re about to launch specific Pilates for Cyclists classes at TEN, what are the types of issues that Pilates can help your typical cycling warrior with?

I know this is going to sound biased, but Pilates fits so well with almost all of my Physiotherapy programmes, all the best Physio strengthening exercises are targeting posture and your core, and all of these exercises are derived from the same approach as Pilates.

While this specialist class is great for all-round strengthening and prehab, we have designed it to directly address some of the most common issues that affect cyclists , whether sports cyclists or commuters using their bikes to get to and from work. The three most common are:

  • ‘Aero neck’ (pain at the base of the neck derived from a rounded position on the bike, poking your neck forwards to look up at the road.
  • Lower back pain from the same position
  • Anterior knee pain (for the reasons I mentioned previously)

Lastly, Pilates doesn’t just help prevent injury, it also improves performance. Because it’s really effective at strengthening the core, you will be more efficient at translating all your power into the pedals (with no wasted energy).

How many people did try to sign up to TEN’s April Fool spoof 55 degrees centigrade BikramLates class?

About 150. We thought it was a daft idea, but clearly not daft enough. Our Creative Director then had to email every single one of them to explain that it was an April Fool’s day stunt – luckily almost all of them took it very well!

What was your first bike?

First ever proper road bike was a Merida S100 (I had a few childhood bikes before that but nothing of mention).

Which bike do you ride now?

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX

What’s the most memorable ride you’ve ever done?

I have so many, but I would have to say, riding London to Paris, 8 of us, 3 days, 160km/day, beautifully smooth roads, amazing scenery, awesome food and great banter

Which Velominati rule are you most guilty of breaking?

Rule #33 Shave your guns – I have been known to be riding early season without shaving my legs. The only way this is acceptable is to be better than everyone else, no one can pass judgement on your hairy legs if they’re behind you!! I do however always shave them coming into racing season (apparently it’s so if you fall off, the grazes don’t get infected, though I think it’s got more to do with showing off your muscles!!)

Which Velominati rule are you most adamant about sticking to?

This is easy, Rule #9. If you’re out riding in bad weather, it means you’re badass – period. It has to be this, as we have ‘rule 9’ on the back of our teams’ bib shorts, and if you don’t turn up 3 weeks in a row, you get dropped off the email chain, so there really isn’t any excuse.

If money were no object, which bike would you buy for yourself?

I would honestly say, I currently have the best frame on the market, it’s ridden by a number of the top professionals. Canyon make the most amazing bikes. I would just go for the upgraded wheel and chain set (but at £5200 vs £3200, just don’t tell Mrs Voss).

Remember, we have a package of 5 free cycling specific Pilates classes put together by Cheyne and the team at ten to give away. Simply upload your best city cycling shots to Instagram with the hashtag #freedomofthecity  (winner announced end of October). There’s also an exclusive 20% discount on these classes you can take advantage of simply by quoting LUMO 20 when booking.