Friday’s cycling trip was a blast! You cycled 10 miles. The landscape was beautiful. The weather was flawless.
The next day you awake in agony. Your muscles are stiff as a board. Tightness paralyzes your thighs, calves, and hamstrings.
As you acquiesce back down on the bed yesterday’s ride replays in your mind. What went wrong, you wonder. You kept hydrated. You ate a good meal after riding. You didn’t over exert. What did I miss? Why do my legs feel like I ran the Boston Marathon?
The answer may be as simple as whether or not you stretched. Below are a few common cycling stretches to keep your muscles relaxed and nimble. Remember to obey these rules of thumb before stretching:
- Stretch before and after working out
- Only stretch until you feel a mild tension
- NEVER STRETCH TO THE POINT OF PAIN.
- Hold stretched position for a minimum of 20 seconds for pre-ride
- Hold for 30 seconds for post-ride development.
- Move gently. Never bounce.
1. Quadricep Stretch - Stand. Pull your ankle towards your backside, keeping your knees together. Holding a support if needed. Feel the stretch on your quads. Hold for 30 seconds.
2. Hamstring Stretch – Place leg on a step. Tilt foot up keeping knee straight. With the back straight, bend your chest forward. Feel the pull behind the knee & hamstring. Hold 30 seconds.
3. Hip flex - Stand in walking position. Place hands on waist. Keep the rear-leg almost straight. Push hips forward & down, keeping the back straight. Feel the stretch in your hips.
4. Calf Stretch – Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step forward. Keep back foot flat, heel on ground. With back-knee locked slowly push heel down. Feel stretch in your calf muscle.
5. Neck stretch - Pull chin back & up. Hold chin with your hand. Gently push backwards & hold for a minute. Feel the stretch in your neck.
6. Lower Back Stretch – Lay down. Place hands shoulder-length apart. Push up, straightening your arms. Let your abdomen hang for 20 seconds.
7. Achilles Tendon Calf Stretch – Hold a support. Stand on step with your heel over the edge. Slowly hang your weight, dropping the heel towards the ground. Feel the calf stretch.
Though cycling is less strenuous on the body than jogging, it does take its toll. Cycling exercises muscles, in a fixed position, for extended periods of time. This redundant motion can cause muscles to become short and tight. Others can become protracted and weak. Stretching before and after a ride can minimize your chances of these conditions. Stretching:
- Prepares muscles for activity
- Increases range of motion
- Improves circulation
- Helps with coordination
- Most importantly – stretching makes you feel great!