Cycling can be pretty strenuous on your joints and muscles. If you don’t stretch and loosen yourself up then you could end up with a pretty serious injury, potentially hindering your ability to hop on the bike whenever you want. Do these 5 stretches before and after cycling to give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury.
Downward facing dog
A real favourite to yoga enthusiasts and cyclists alike, downward facing dog is a great one for stretching out your lower back and your hamstrings.
Since cycling power is generated in your core and lower back, these are areas that can often become tight and fatigued so it’s great to stretch and loosen these areas, releasing the tension built up after hours in the saddle.
How? It’s a nice and simple stretch. Start on your hands and knees and then slowly raise your hips up by straightening out your legs. Tense your quads and push your hips back to really stretch out your hamstrings and calves. Keep thinking about pushing your heels towards the ground to keep your legs and spine as straight as possible.
Another one for loosening your lower back and working the legs too, the bridge pose will work your core slightly more and also stretch out your glutes, both very important after you’ve been churning out some miles on the bike.
How? Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted close to your bum. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, lift your pelvis up until you form a flat line from your shoulders to your knees. You can join your hands underneath you for extra support.
Testing both your balance skills and your glute flexibility, glute sits are great for really stretching out the powerful muscles at the back of your legs. Your glutes are the hardest working muscles when it comes to cycling so make sure you pay them lots of attention.
How? Sit on the edge of a chair and bring one foot over the other knee so your ankle is resting across your knee. With your back as straight as possible, slowly lean forward and you will start to feel the stretch on the back of your thighs and in your bum.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try it without the chair to test your balancing skills and work your core that bit extra.
Upper trap stretch
When road cycling, you will be leaning forward with your weight being held partly through your shoulders. This means that your shoulders muscles and your traps will likely be holding a lot of tension after you get off the bike. Make sure you stretch out your neck and shoulders so you don’t wake up the next morning in pain.
How? Either sit or stand in a neutral position and place your left hand behind your left hip. Then put your right hand on the left hand side of your face and gently apply downward pressure so that you start to bring your right ear down towards your right shoulder. Keep going until you can feel the stretch down the side of your neck. Then repeat on the other side.
Be careful not to push it too hard/far and damage your neck.
Cat / Camel
This one is great for really loosening the bottom of your spine and relieving lower back stiffness, which is very common after long rides.
How? Start on your hands and knees and slowly alternate between arching and rounding you back. Breathe deeply as you do it to ensure a full range of movement and do it slowly without forcing it as this can damage your spine and the surrounding muscles.