5 Essential Stretches for Cyclist


5 essential stretches for cyclists

Biking is notorious for being a low impact activity, and even more notorious for creating powerfully “Tight” muscles. To combat the inevitable “Bad Cycling Posture”, here are some essential stretches to incorporate into your routine:

  1. Upper Trap Stretch
  2. Front to Back Leg Swings
  3. Lunge and Rotation
  4. Walkouts
  5. Standing Quad Stretch

These exercises are especially helpful, as they incorporate Dynamic stretches that target the 8 muscle groups most affected during rides;

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip Flexor
  • Core
  • Upper Traps and Shoulders
  • Lower Back
  • Calves
  • Quadriceps

1. Trapezius Stretch – Traps/Shoulders

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

The burning at the back of my neck during my first ride made me realize that humans were not evolved to ride on mountain bikes. Though your lower body naturally adapts to the motions, your shoulder and neck muscles work hard to keep your head in the upright position while riding. This is where the Trapezius muscle group comes in. Active.com wrote a great article on Trap Exercises and recommended the following stretch routine:

Positioning: You can do this sitting or standing. Always have your hand on the shoulder you want to stretch to prevent it from moving up. The other hand should be on top of your head with your fingers pointing towards the back. Your neck should always remain in line with your back and the only body part that is moving is your head

Forward stretch: Gently pull your head forward with your chin toward your neck as if you were nodding. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.

Side stretch: Gently pull your head to the side so your ear approaches the opposite shoulder. Switch sides. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.

Diagonal stretch: Gently pull your head diagonally forward so your chin approaches the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.

Repeat these stretches on the other side. Start with the forward stretch, but this time, your hand should be on the opposite shoulder. Go through these stretches 2 to 3 times in one sitting and repeat throughout the day.”

2. Front to Back Leg Swings – Hamstrings/Glutes/Quads

Quad Muscle Biking

The Hamstrings become very powerful but “short” during the pedaling motion, the Glutes are the secret powerhouse of your lower body, and the Quads are the biggest cycling muscle in your arsenal. This simple exercise hits all 3 areas and is a great Dynamic stretch for cyclists:

Start by bracing yourself with the arm opposite of the leg you are swinging. Maintain a straight and fluid motion as you swing your leg forward to stretch the Hamstring and backwards up to your butt, to stretch your Quads. Complete 20 Reps on each leg and remember to try and stretch further each time

3. Lunge and Rotation – Glutes/Hip Flexor/Calves/Lower Back

Lunge and Twist

One of the best Dynamic stretches for cyclists is the Lunge and Rotation/Twist. Such a versatile movement, adding a simple rotation to the exercise allows you to hit multiple lower body muscle groups.

               Begin with standard lunge and simply rotate your body to the forward leg. Maintain good posture and hold the position for a few seconds before returning to the upright position and completing the exercise on the opposite leg. Complete 10 Reps for each leg.

4. Walkouts – Shoulders/Core/Hamstrings

Walkout Back Stretch

Your Core plays a vital role in keeping you balanced on the bike, especially important to those of us who Mountain Bike. This Dynamic stretch allows you to develop Core strength and flexibility, while retargeting those tricky Hamstrings and strengthening your shoulders.

Men’sHealth does a great job of summarizing the movement with this excerpt from their article:

“Bend at the hips and plant your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, a couple of inches in front of your feet.

Walk your hands forward until your body is in a pushup position.

Now reverse the entire movement and return to standing. “

5. Standing Quad Stretch – Quads

Standing Quad Stretch

Mentioned earlier in this post, your Quads are your biggest cycling muscle and just like your Hamstrings, they require extra attention during your stretch. Taking more direction from our friends at VeryWellFit.com, the move is easily explained in the steps below:

  1. Stand on one leg. If you need support, hold onto something solid, such as a wall or chair, for support.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your buttock.
  3. Reach for your ankle with your opposite (left) hand.
  4. Stand up straight and pull in your abdominal muscles.  Try to keep your knees next to each other. Relax your shoulders. As you hold your leg in the bent position you will feel a slight pull along the front of your thigh and hip.
  5. Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the left leg, this time holding your ankle with your right hand.

Conclusion

The best way to maximize your time and efforts is to incorporate Dynamic stretches into your routine. Feel free to try any of these exercises, or let them be an inspiration to further research dynamic stretches. If you found this article to be helpful or possibly have tips of your own, feel free to comment below.

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