Cycling is a great activity that gets you outdoors and provides the opportunity for exercise beyond the walls of a gym. Cycling can be done in great picturesque locations, on a variety of trails anywhere, just an all around activity that can be shared with friends who also enjoy an awesome bike ride!
Biking can cause leg muscles to tighten and shorten, especially if you cycle regularly, causing a lack of flexibility, particularly the hamstrings, when tight/restricted can cause low-back pain.
Stretching after cycling is key to keeping the leg muscle flexible and will also help with your next ride. The following are a series of stretches that can be done after your ride, hold each stretch (no bouncing) for at least a minimum of 30 seconds, relax into the stretch and breathe.
Please see attached pictures, the following outlines key muscles to stretch(many of these stretches are from yoga) upon completion of your ride:
Child's Pose - Wide knee or straight knee - Come to all fours, take big toes together, sit hips back towards heels, great stretch for the side body, lower back and hips. Option: can keep arms straight, more side body stretch or hands by heels to release and relax the shoulders.
Low Lunge - step right foot forward, left knee down, knee should be aligned with ankle, back toes firmly pressed into floor. Hands to hips, tuck tailbone a bit, and gently press weight into front foot. You will feel this stretch on the opposite side of the hip flexor (Psoas Muscle).
Calf Stretch - on all fours, gently extend left leg, press into the ball of the foot, heel towards sky, lengthen heel back. Pause, breathe, enjoy this fabulous calf stretch!
Hams, Hips, Thighs
Ham Stretch - come to your back, lengthen out right leg or keep bent. Draw left knee towards chest, wrap an exercise band/strap around ball of left foot, gently lengthen leg to sky, press through the heel. Point and flex the foot, the stretch sensation will change to alternating hams/calves.
Inner Thigh Stretch - from the ham stretch, place left hand on band/strap and gently extend left leg out to the side, foot flexed, guide toes towards shoulder.
IT Band Stretch - from the Inner Thigh Stretch, slowly bring left leg up, strap in right hand and extend leg to the right of the body, reaching through the heel. Pause when you feel sensation running down your left side of the leg, breathe and say hello to your connective tissues (IT Band).
Downward Facing Dog - this is my favorite especially after a long bike ride. Come to all fours, wrists under shoulders, fingers spread wide and rooted into floor, knees under hips, tuck toes, lift tailbone to the sky, feet hip width apart, nod the head yes/no, draw shoulder blades down the back, alternating pedaling knees to receive a fabulous calf/hamstring stretch. To come out, bend knees, you can also take a Child's Pose counter stretch here.
Upper Body - upper body gets tight too supporting you on the ride. This stretch opens the chest/shoulders. Take a band/strap in your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, place palms down, Slowly raise up towards shoulders and lower, can repeat a few times. To take the stretch deeper, when lifting up shoulder height take up overhead and behind the back (shoulder blades), pause here for a moment and feel the stretch. To release, take strap/band up overhead and back to starting position.
Hope you find these stretches helpful, you will notice the difference!
Enjoy your ride!
Lynn MacDonald, ACE Personal Trainer/Registered Yoga Teacher
Rocky Hill Yoga & More