Maintaining a reasonable level of cycling during the winter months can be challenging. It is a lot easier if you are able to keep yourself warm while you are out and about. Cycling tights and leotards are the perfect way to keep your body at a good temperature whilst at the same time being designed for your comfort and performance. These are not to be confused with gymnastics leotards of any other types of gym or sports wear. Even though at a first glance they may look similar, they are completely different. There is quite a wide variety of different cycling tights available for different sexes, weather conditions and temperatures.
Warm weather leotards
These are to be worn in the more favourable temperatures in the range of 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. The are great for spring, autumn, cooler days in summer and warmer days in winter. They are constructed from thinner materials than winter tights and so are often made from standard Lycra rather than a fleecy fabric that the winter variety may be made from. They also provide better protection than shorts. There are also wet weather tights which will keep the wind and rain away from the bare skin and so preventing windchill but they are still thin enough to prevent their wearer from becoming overheated.
Cold weather leotards
These are designed to provide comfort in the colder temperature range of 6 to 16 degrees. These are usually sufficient to use all the way through winter. Thicker fabrics help to insulate the riders legs from the wind and some feature a higher bib to help keep the upper body warmer and ankle holders to keep the legs in place.
Extreme temperature leotards
There are also garments designed for extreme weather. These are for the temperature drops to 5 degrees or lower and are designed for scenarios such are riding through snowy terrain or through hail and open moors. The material is advanced and so they are usually more expensive. For example, Assos use 9 different fabrics across 20 panels in their tights. This types is good could choice to keep riding wherever in the world you may be cycling in winter.
There are are also padded and unpadded tights. Most cyclists will opt for the padded type due to their obvious comfort but some prefer unpadded and then wear padded shorts on top. This is often because the cyclist intendeds to wear the tights multiple times and does not want bacteria build up in the pad.
Some people get lower back pain from excessive cycling. I know I do sometimes. A recent cycling event left me with a little pain so I started reading how people deal with this is in other sports. There are always concerns when performing physical activity about the risks of injury and as a gym user I took a look at weight lifting in particular. Lifting weights often poses a risk of injury. For many the risk is low but for some, the risk is high. The most common injuries with weight lifting are to the shoulders, knees and most often back.
The lower back is a complete system made up of the spine, the pelvis and abdominal cavity. The spine itself is made of vertebra, discs, nerves, fascia and ligaments. The lower back is particularly vulnerable to injury and this can be quite debilitating as it used in some way for the majority of our movements. The anatomy of the lower back differs from the anatomy of the mid back and the neck. The neck designed for movement such as rotation, bending and retraction. The movement of the mid back is limited because of the ribcage but it can do rotation, flexion and extension. The lower spine is quite weak in comparison for the load and movement that it needs to handle hence a weightlifting belt is often useful for extra support.
A power lifting belt will make the wearers back more rigid by limiting the movement of the spine and the belt will actually act as a wall and limits the expansion of the core so the more air that you inhale, the more pressure is built up within the core. This increase of pressure supports the lower back and makes it much easier to stabilize and so makes it easier to lift heavy weights. During training, a powerlifter’s intentions are to improve their body’s ability to move weight. They can be wanting to move more weight, move it more times or improve the movement of the exercise. When a powerlifter competes, they want to get their best out of every effort by using every resource possible to win. There is a special breathing technique to build up and retain the pressure called the Valsalva Maneuver and this does take some practice to achieve effectively when performing a lift. In fact, you can see a lifter holding their breath when performing a lift in competition by looking at their face.
There is also a grey area regarding use of belts. Many people say that they should only be used for the heavy lifts and only for certain exercises which put stress on the back. These exercises are generally squats, deadlifts and overhead press. Many people also suggest not wearing a belt for the majority of training as this can lead to a reliance on the support of a belt and weaken the core muscles which would otherwise be strengthened. By only using a belt for the heavy and competition lifts, this worry gets removed.