Stretching and cycling are the best of pals, or at least they should be. Cyclists are too quick to neglect their before and after ride stretches and while this undoubtedly can lead to injuries, it also limits the level of cycling performance. Cyclists who stretch regularly and correctly are more flexible. Flexible cyclists ride faster and with much lower levels of effort. It’s pretty simple: stretch right, ride better. With a focus on the lower body, cyclists must targets the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, gluteus, and IT band. In addition, cyclists must also pay attention to stretching areas like the core, shoulders, and neck. Cyclists who stretch increase their range of motion and thus improve their cycling performance.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 stretching tips that cyclists should keep in mind:
- Make sure your body is warm when you are stretching
- Stretch each muscle for 5-10 seconds pre-ride, 10-20 seconds post-ride, and 30-60 seconds each evening after your hot shower
- Yoga poses to use for stretching: downward-facing dog, crescent lunge, thunderbolt pose, bridge, half-pigeon, and recline hands-to-toes pose with a stretching band
- Stand and let your arms fall freely toward the ground as your knees slightly bend to stretch the hamstrings
- Stretch your calves before and after every ride, we prefer using a curb where the foot is rested upward on the side of the curb and the body wright is shifted forward
- Stretch your quads long and slowly – the most common stretch is bragging your foot at the top of the ankle and pulling up
- Do not neglect your IT band, this is a common injury spot for cyclists
- Pay attention to your gluteus, too many cyclists ignore their butts and they need a good stretch
- Do crunches regularly to keep your core strong and stretched
- Remember to stretch your neck – cyclists turn their heads all of the time to check for traffic and a sore neck can keep you off of your bike for days
From injury protection to performance increases, stretching is an essential element of successful cycling. Far too many articles have been written that discount the importance of stretching for cyclists. The truth of the matter, however, is that cyclists who stretch prolong their cycling lifeline. Don’t fall victim to the false hype, stretch those cycling muscles!