Stretching is vital for cycling as it can help you avoid injuries and stay flexible. And the best way to stay flexible is by stretching often. However, you may be unaware of the best stretches for cyclists.
This article will teach you why cyclists stretch, some different types of stretches, and four of the best stretches for cyclists, so you can live a better, healthier life.
These are the best static stretches to do after cycling:
- Standing calf stretch
- Stretch your hips and lower back.
- Psoas and hip flexors stretch
- Simple Shoulder Stretches
Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 6, 2022, to include additional information about the best stretches for cyclists. I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.
Before learning about the best stretches for cyclists, let’s first understand why all cyclists should stretch.
Why should cyclists stretch?
When it comes to the stress that comes with hours of training, riding, and racing, cycling isn’t exactly forgiving. However, by incorporating stretching into your regular training regimen, you may achieve normalcy in your body posture and break any destructive tendencies produced by your riding position.
Stretching can help restore the body’s natural posture by stretching adaptively shortened muscles induced by riding position maintenance. In addition, cycling stretches can help you overcome constraints that limit your ability to move painlessly across each joint’s complete range of motion.
Finally, many bikers find stretching calming, lowering stress, and making you feel better. Many of our athletes like stretching before bed to improve their sleep quality. Movements that appropriately align the spine and release both the pelvic and shoulder girdles are ideal. These areas of the body can get abnormally tense as a result of biking.
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Types of stretches
Before delving into specific workouts, it’s critical to understand how each type of stretch differs from the others. Their range of motion, level of muscle engagement, and overall goals distinguish them. There are three types of stretches: dynamic, static, and ballistic.
Dynamic stretches (also known as “warming up”) are the pre-workout component of your stretching regimen that focuses on boosting the temperature of your muscles. Warming up reduces post-ride discomfort and stiffness because dynamic stretches increase joint range of motion and general flexibility. While it is debatable whether it reduces injuries, there is little doubt that joint range of motion and flexibility are essential for maintaining high physical fitness and health.
Dynamic stretching is also proven to promote speed, agility, and acceleration while helping build and lengthen the muscles and improve posture. Dynamic stretches are designed to assist your body in preparing for a specific movement and should be similar to the physical activity in which you participate. They are conducted by contracting muscles and moving joints through their range of motion.
Static stretches should be part of your post-workout routine and constitute what is usually referred to as the “cool down” period. The emphasis is on enhancing blood flow to the joints and muscles following physical activity, which minimizes stress, cramping, and inflammation while shortening recovery time. In addition, increased blood flow enhances the affected area’s flexibility, strength, and performance.
In addition, blood flow is temporarily restricted during the stretch due to capillary compression. However, when the stretch is done, nearly twice as much blood flows to the area, bringing more oxygen to the area. And with time, your body’s tolerance to such stretches increases, allowing it to execute more strenuous exercises for extended periods.
Ballistic stretching is a training technique used by bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts to improve their muscularity, endurance, and speed. By performing ballistic stretching exercises quickly and repeatedly at high intensity, you can develop muscle fibers that are more resistant to fatigue, ultimately leading to greater strength and performance.
The four best cycling stretches
When cycling, it is critical to retain flexibility and movement. These are the best cycling stretches.
1. Calf stretch while standing
The calf (gastrocnemius) muscle travels down the back of your lower leg. Cyclists use this muscle regularly when pedaling. Calf stretches come in a variety of forms. This one can be completed while standing.
How to stretch your calf muscle:
- First, place one foot away from a wall and face it.
- Then, extend one of your legs behind you, keeping your knee straight and your foot flat on the floor.
- Lean forward and bend your forward knee, feeling the calf muscle in your back leg tense. If necessary, reach your hand to the wall for assistance.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Hip and lower back stretch
Opening the hips and stretching the hip, groin, and lower back muscles is beneficial. 2. Sitting, even on a bike, shortens these muscles while lengthening the opposing muscle group. Golfers will benefit from this hip and lower back stretch as well.
How to stretch your back muscles
- Start in a forward lunge with your right leg forward.
- Place your right elbow inside your right knee and your left knee on the ground.
- Press your right elbow against your right knee and twist to the left.
- Reach your left arm behind you until your lower back and right groin feel slightly stretched.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before releasing.
- Repeat with the other leg.
3. Psoas and hip flexors stretch
The hip flexors are a set of muscles that raise the legs toward the trunk. Cycling causes tight hip flexors because the motion prevents the hip from fully stretching. Maintaining hip flexor flexibility is critical for avoiding muscle imbalance and post-ride stiffness. Use this standing hip flexor and psoas stretch or a more advanced variation that goes down to the floor.
How to stretch your psoas and hip
- Put your right foot in front of you and your left foot straight back.
- Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle in a forward lunge position.
- To experience a stretch on your left side, place your hands on your forward knee and press down, bringing your hips forward.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before releasing.
- Rep with the other leg.
4. Shoulder stretch
Cyclists spend a significant amount of time crouched over their handlebars. This simple shoulder stretch can aid in opening the chest and loosening stiff shoulders.
How to stretch your shoulders
- Begin by relaxing your shoulders.
- Raise your right arm and bend your elbow, reaching behind your head to touch your upper back.
- Bring your left arm above your head and rest it on your right elbow to gently support your right arm during the stretch.
- Hold on for 10 to 15 seconds before releasing.
When should I stretch?
You should stretch before and after every tide. However, static stretching before a ride is not a good idea because your muscles are cold, making them more prone to injury, and static stretching (holding a fixed posture) can limit power production for up to an hour. So instead, incorporate some “dynamic” stretching into your warmup to get your muscles ready.
Here are some items that might make stretching easier for you.
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How long should I stretch for?
Allow time for the “stretch response,” which occurs when the muscle relaxes and ceases trying to defend itself from the stretch. Aim for at least 20 seconds, preferably at least 60 seconds.
How often should I stretch?
The American Council on Sports Medicine recommends doing flexibility exercises two or four times a week. But honestly, the more stretching, the better.
If you want even more tips, watch the “Top 10 Stretches for Cyclists Before & After Riding to Stop Pain/Injury” video from the Bob & Brad YouTube Channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about stretches for cyclists.
Is stretching good for cyclists?
Yes. Right after riding is the most important time to reset the body’s muscles and “undo” any repetitive stress cycling puts on the joints.”
Should you stretch before a cycle?
Static stretches before cycling appear to have minimal impact. However, dynamic stretches can be beneficial. Stretching after certain training rides is also important, especially for the quadriceps, which can get overly tight and cause knee pain.
How should I warm up for cycling?
Yes, but it must be a dynamic stretch. Incorporating a focused warmup will result in a much more enjoyable start to your ride. A proper warmup boosts blood flow, which raises your body temperature and allows you to expand your joint range of motion.
Does stretching lead to better cycling performance?
Not directly. However, restoring the body’s normal posture is advantageous for reasons other than performance. And, increased range of motion due to stretching can lead to improved training benefits, which may translate to improved performance.
To avoid injury, cyclists must keep their bodies stretched and limbered. These stretches are ideal for cyclists of all fitness levels and can keep you flexible, mobile, and injury-free.
This article covered why cyclists stretch, some different types of stretches, and four of the best stretches for cyclists. Here are some key takeaways:
- By incorporating stretching into your regular training regimen, you may achieve normalcy in your body posture and break any bad tendencies produced by your riding position.
- There are three types of stretches: dynamic, static, and ballistic.
- When cycling, it is critical to retain flexibility and movement.
- Strong glutes help keep you from getting hurt and give you a stronger running stride and more strength in general.
- The quadriceps is the body’s largest and strongest muscle and aid in propelling a cyclist forward while peddling.
- Yoga helps bikers reduce injuries and improve performance.
- The hamstrings are a group of muscles in your legs. They aid in proper walking, running, and biking.
- Hamstring stretches can enhance hamstring flexibility, lowering the risk of this muscle group injuring cyclists while riding their bikes.
So, are you a total yogi? Did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed bikes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.