3 Essential Stretches for Cyclists
Before and after exercise is a great time to stretch. Pre exercise the aim of stretching and mobility exercises is to prepare your body for what is to come. You want to warm up and loosen up any stiffness in order to put your body in the best position for your training session or race. This can significantly reduce your risk of injury. After exercise, a warm down and stretches aims to prevent muscles tightening up from the exercise that you have done and to ensure that you will have effective recovery before your next training session.
Here are 3 essential stretches and mobility exercises for cyclists which take just 3-4 minutes to complete. They cover the key areas of tightness and give you good bang for your buck as they each address a few areas.
This targets the hip flexors and quadriceps muscles which are heavily used in cycling and both remain in relatively short positions throughout the cycling motion so are likely to get tight and stiff without some attention. This is a great stretch to prevent knee pain such as patellafemoral joint irritation.
Ease yourself into a lunge position with your back knee resting on the floor, use a pillow if you have knobbly knees or are on a hard surface. Shift your upper body forwards to that your supporting knee is slightly behind your body and take hold of your ankle with your hand or a strap, depending on your flexibility, and pull your heel towards your buttocks. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Upper back mobility using a foam roller
This is great exercise to prevent upper back and neck pain. Using a foam roller you can stretch your upper back out of the flexed position it was in throughout your training session. This exercise can also open your chest to stretch your pectoral muscles which work to support your upper body weight on the handle bars and keep your arms tucked in. Due to the constant forward position on the bike these areas tend to get very stiff and immobile especially if you are in an aerodynamic or racing position.
For this mobility exercise you need to lie with your mid back rested on a foam roller with your hands behind and supporting your head and elbows as wide as they can be. Stretch your upper back over the roller keeping your abdominals tight to ensure your lower back stays still so you only move your upper back. Slowly return and repeat the stretch several times at each level of your back, moving the roller higher or lower. You want to work through your whole upper back from just below your shoulder blades to the base of your neck.
Pigeon pose stretch
This is a great yoga position that can stretch out your gluteal muscles as well as your lower back. During the pedal stroke our gluteals should be working hard but will always be in a similar position so like our quads have a tendency to get very tight after a hard ride, especially after hilly or higher resistance sessions. This is a great stretch to prevent issues with your Iliotibial band.
Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees. Step your right foot through and rest your heel in front of your left knee. Lower your right knee to the floor and slide your left leg as far back as you can stretch. To include a stretch of your lower back you can bring your chest down towards your right knee. Hold this final position for 30 seconds, ease out and repeat on the opposite side.
For further advice, please get in touch with the Flawless Physio team here.
Feel good. Move well. Be better!