Follow this 10-minute post-ride stretching exercises for cyclists program to jump-start your recovery.
Cyclists spend long periods in the saddle, often bent forward at the waist, not paying much attention as their back arches, their shoulders become rounded, their shoulder blades wing from their ribs, and their head cranes upward. Our cycling posture worsens as we fatigue and the passage of days and years spent pursuing our passion.
All of this time spent in a seated position increases the risk of tightness in the hip flexors. The loss of flexibility, in turn, causes the pelvis to rotate forward on the saddle and when combined with tight hamstrings, weak glutes, and core creates constant tension on the lower back muscles.
Consistently engaging in a generalized stretching program to increase muscle and joint flexibility is essential for overall health, wellness, and ensuring that we are best prepared to enjoy our passion and function daily as we age.
A carefully planned stretching program that focuses on the excessively tight cycling muscles, and addresses imbalances caused by riding and racing, is imperative for the virtual cyclist to optimize pain-free enjoyment.
When done the right way, stretching a few minutes a day will keep us at play—riding, that is! Here is the 15-minute routine I do after every ride.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, arch your low back and then flatten it repeatedly. Your pelvis should tilt forward and back during the movement. Move through a comfortable range of motion.
While Lying on your back, raise your leg up and hold your thigh under your knee while gently pulling it towards your chest for a gentle stretch. Lower your leg down and repeat.
While Lying on your back, hold your knees and gently pull them up towards your chest.
While lying on your back with both knees bent, cross your affected leg and position your foot on the other knee. Next, hold your unaffected thigh and pull it up towards your chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock.
Hamstring Stretch with a Towel
While lying down on your back, hook a towel or strap under your foot and draw up your leg until a stretch is felt along the backside of your leg. Keep your knee in a straightened position during the stretch.
Iliotibial Band Stretch with a Towel
Loop a towel around your foot. While lying on your back and leg up in front of you and knee straight, bring your leg across midline for a gentle stretch felt along your outer thigh.
Plantar Fascia Stretch with a Towel
While sitting, place a towel under your lower leg, foot and toes as shown. Hold onto the other end of the towel and gently pull back until a stretch is felt.
While in a sitting position, bend your knees and place the bottom of your feet together. Next, slowly let your knees lower towards the floor and push down with your elbows until a stretch is felt at your inner thighs.
Iliotibial Band/Glute Stretch in Seated Position
Sit with one knee straight and the other bent and placed over the opposite knee. Then gently turn your body towards the bent knee side while pulling your knee back with your elbow.
Hip Flexor Stretch in Half-Kneeling Position
While kneeling down on one knee, lean forward and bend your front knee until a stretch is felt along the front hip area of the knee-down side. Raise your arm above your head on the knee-down side for more stretch in the front hip area.
Cat and Camel
While on your hands and knees in a crawl position, raise up your back and arch it towards the ceiling like an angry cat. Next, return to a lowered position and arch your back in the opposite direction to resemble a camel.
Quad Stretch in Standing Position
While in a standing position, bend your knee back behind and hold your ankle/foot. Next, gently pull your knee into a more bent position until a stretch is felt on the front of the thigh. Keep your back straight and your knee pointed toward the floor.
Hip Adductor (Groin) Stretch in Standing Position
Begin in a standing position with your feet spread wide apart. Next, slowly bend your knee to allow for a gentle stretch of the opposite leg. Maintain a straight knee on the target (opposite) leg the entire time to feel a stretch of the inner thigh and groin.
Iliotibial Band Stretch in Standing Position
In a standing position, cross the target leg behind your opposite leg. Next, with your arm overhead, lean to the side towards the non-target leg to feel a stretch on the outside of your thing on the target leg.
Calf Stretch in Standing Position
Start by standing in front of a wall or other sturdy object. Step forward with one foot and keep your toes on both feet pointed straight forward. Keep the leg behind you straight during the stretch. Lean forward towards the wall as you allow your front knee to bend until a gentle stretch is felt along the back of your leg that is behind you. Change foot position and bend back knee to vary the stretch.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Cross one arm in front of you while reaching for your opposite shoulder. Gently pull your elbow with the other hand until a stretch is felt in the back of your shoulder.
Lat Sidebend Stretch
Start in an upright position with both arms overhead. Next, grab the wrist of the side you want to stretch and draw it over bending at your trunk until a gentle stretch is felt along the side of your body. You may need to slightly bend forward as well to feel a stretch.
Rhomboid Doorway Stretch
In a doorway with a frame, anchor your hands in a cross-over manner so your right hand is on the left of the door frame and your left hand is on the right of the door frame. Then push your upper back backward, tucking your head gently to achieve a stretch in the neck and upper back.
Doorway Pec Stretch
Position forearms on the door frame as shown with a 90-degree bend at your shoulders and elbows. Put one foot on a chair, stool, or simply in front in the doorway as shown. Translate your hips and shoulders forward into the door to feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
Begin by retracting your head back into a chin tuck position. Next, place one hand behind your back and gently pull your head towards the opposite side with the help of your other arm.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site. In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, http://www.TheDIRTDadFund.com. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.