We all know Cycling is awesome and the benefits it brings to our lives. When we ride regularly we are not angry, we become lovers, resolve the troubles of the world and can eat more cake guilt free. Brilliant.
What is not so brilliant is how few of us stretch post ride. Stretching post ride is important as the muscles are still warm (stretching cold increases the risk of injury) and the stretch will have a better aiding effect to help those critical muscle groups become flexible, supple and strong. Once stretching has become a integrated part of your ride, your comfort, strength, recovery and injury prevention will improve so you can keep riding longer and more often. It’s a win win really!
There are many reasons stretching isn’t a habit. It isn’t as fun as actually riding, it impeeds our coffee time, or shock horror, we may look a bit stupid trying in vein to touch our toes at the cafe in front of everyone else.
If you are not stretching, here are some great BASE stretches you can do after every ride to get you started. They don’t take long and they will start you on the pathway to a more involved stretching program, aid your recovery time, and will even make you stronger and faster on the bike
Start them slowly, don’t force or “bounce”. Start with 3 repeats of each. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
If you are feeling any sort of excessive pain, stop immediately and seek professional advice.
Stretch your hip flexors. Your hips play a significant role in climbing ability and pedal efficiency. If they fail they will lead to a number of significant injuries that will keep you off the bike, or horror, make you slow.
You will feel the stretch through the front and outside of your thigh.
Do the stretch slowly for each leg 3 times, holding 30 seconds each. It’s important to hold an upright posture during the stretch.
There are a number of options here. But the most basic is simply stand on your tippy toes. Mix it up by pointing your toes in and then out. This is good for the calf muscles and the ankles, both of which are used extensively for a smooth efficient and powerful pedal action.
First lie on the floor. Then placing your hands under your shoulders and push your upper body up off the floor, keeping your toes tucked under your feet. Picture the opposite of when you are reaching for the bars when riding. Feel the stretch through your front and your lower back.
Next, lift and push your hips up into the air. Only your palms and feet are touching the floor, you will have a pyramid shape. Don’t worry if your heels won’t touch the floor, turn it into an opportunity to stretch your calf muscles by leaning into each foot. This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, and back muscles.
So there you have it, so quick and easy stretches that will get you on your way, hopefully to a stronger more flexible and fitter you!
There are many more you can do and feel free to explore! You may even find yourself joining a yoga class to take you to the next level!