Stretch your limits : stretching for cyclists

Take a few minutes after your ride to do something for yourself because recovering is important! Stretching is a way to recover while improving the physical quality of flexibility.

Some studies boast that stretching might even improve your cycling qualities because the range of motion for the hamstrings is improved. One thing is for sure. Stretching prevents injuries. Continuous cycling can lead to gradual loss of elasticity in the muscles and may even decrease overall joint flexibility. Cyclists can overcome these problems through regular stretching.

So make the time for a couple of stretches.

How to stretch correctly?

Don’t stretch cold muscles. After your ride put on a dry t-shirt, have a glass of water or recovery drink. And start stretching while your muscles are still warm. It’s easier and better. If you can’t stretch just after your ride, make the time later on.  But still warm those muscles up by starting with some dynamic warm-up movements such as marching or gentle twisting to raise the body’s core temperature.

Stretch slowly without bouncing. Stretch to where you feel a slight, easy stretch. Hold this feeling for 5 to 30 seconds. As you hold this stretch, the feeling of tension should diminish. If it doesn’t, just ease off slightly into a more comfortable stretch. The easy stretch reduces tension and readies the tissues for a more developed stretch.

Then hold the easy stretch move a fraction of an inch farther into the stretch until you feel mild tension again. This is the developmental stretch, which should be held a little longer this time. This stretch reduces tension and will safely increase flexibility. At least 30-second stretches will fully restore muscles back to their resting length but keep it up longer if the area is very tight.

Don’t hold your breath while stretching. Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose to relax the muscles and aid stretching. We’re mammals, our muscles need oxygen.

Remember. Stretching should not be painful! Stretch only to the point of tension. Muscular shaking or quivering is usually a signal to ease off.

A few useful stretches for cyclists

1. Known as a yoga movement, the downward-facing dog is great stretch after cycling. Start on hands and knees. Lift hips into an upside-down V-shape, keeping palms on the floor. Bend the knees if you need to. This stretch lengthens back muscles and hamstrings.

stretching position : the downward facing dog
Stretching position n 1 : the downward facing dog

2. The lunge : kneeling on one knee, keep your bodyweight central and pull your pelvis forwards and upwards until you feel the stretch at the front of the hip of the kneeling leg.

Stretching position n 2 : the lunge
Stretching position n 2 : the lunge

3. The butt stretch : the bottom is just as much solicited in cycling as the quadriceps. The toxics like to hide in-between the criss-cross of the pyramidal muscles. Lay on your back, cross one leg over the other. Knees touching opposing ankles.  Pull on the thigh and knee and bring it towards you. Do both sides.

Stretching position n 3 : the butt stretch
Stretching position n 3 : the butt stretch

4.  Neck stretch : lean your head to one side with the arm on the opposite side stretching downwards.

Stretching position n 4 : the neck stretch
Stretching position n 4 : the neck stretch

Use your stretching time to get to know yourself. Which muscles are sorer than others? This gives you an idea on what to improve when you’re riding.

Do you push too much on the pedals? And forget the pull. Maybe you have a stiff neck and need to change your position. Sore muscles are your body talking.  By taking the time to stretch, you learn more about yourself.