Stretches for Cyclists
Stretches by YoGoGirls
Images by Fedele Studio
Cyclist Trainer / 500 RYT Consultant, Julie Funke of St. Louis Spinning
So you want to increase mobility to ride stronger and longer, and you like to feel good the day after riding? One word: S-T-R-E-T-C-H.
The repetitive motion of cycling can cause your leg muscles to tighten and be sore. And the low back tightening that riding, especially road cycling, can produce, may be improved by a few simple stretches. YoGoGirls, Debby & Michelle have collected some of our favorite post cycling stretches for you.
To reap the benefits of stretching, it’s best to stretch out muscles just after riding. Hold each stretch up to the first sensation of resistance, then breathe your way through it. Inhaling while lightening the stretch a tiny bit, and exhaling as you lengthen deeper. Try holding each stretch for up to 20 seconds.
Modify any stretch to suit your particular needs. Use padding under your knees, or try the same stretch sitting down, lying down, or standing up if it’s more comfortable for you. We show two variations for each stretch here to give you alternatives for unwinding those muscle groups most used by cyclists.
If you’re looking for a way to ease your mind into it. Instead of thinking, “I’m so tight!” or “I can’t reach my toes,” try replacing these thoughts with “This is just what my body needs” and “I am getting more flexible each time I stretch.”
Hip Openers – As a simple rule of thumb for keeping the IT band and the muscles around it in peak condition so you can cycle pain-free, focus on hip openers as well as quadriceps and hamstring stretches, all of which can reduce the pull on the IT band. Keeping feet flexed during hip openers is important, as it will lessen any impact on your knees.
Hamstring Stretches – Lunges are good for elongating both hamstrings and quads, and they will help lengthen those tightened hip flexors.
Lower back arching poses like camel (Debby) or bridge (Michelle) can open the groin, thighs and entire back, as well as stretching the muscles in the chest, the front of the shoulders and back of the neck. For bridge pose: Lie supine on the floor. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, with your heels as close to your sitting bones as possible. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the sky, lifting the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel.
Piriformis Stretch – Half pigeon pose (Michelle) is ideal for the piriformis muscle. Debby is demonstrating a sitting version of this same stretch. An indication of this movement happening correctly is that the knee points out to the side. To enter half pigeon, start off in a comfortable seated position. Then, externally rotate your right hip joint, pointing the right knee to the side. Align the right shin so that it is parallel with pubic bone. Extend the left leg back, orient the pelvis forward, and square your hips. Exhale as you relax your torso over your right shin and keep the back as straight as possible, being mindful not to sickle the foot inward. After a period of 30-60 seconds, repeat on the other side.
Lower back stretches. A series of cat and cow poses can help to lengthen those low back muscles used so heavily in maintaining cycling posture.
If you have any stretches you find helpful, we’d love to hear them. Email us: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Debby’s gear by Onzie
Vintage bikes from Billy Goat Bicycle Company
Alignment mats from Liforme
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