Stretching before any physical activity helps prevent injury and gives your muscles a chance to warm up. Here are some basic stretches for muscles that are used during cycling.
Pre Cycle Stretches
Start off by stretching your neck. Slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder. Repeat five times in each direction.
Lie on your back with the bottoms of your feet together and slowly drop your knees apart. This will slowly stretch your groin muscles. Hold this stretch for about 2 minutes.
Put your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Gently pull the back of your head towards your knees to stretch your upper back and neck. Hold for about 45 seconds each time.
Lie flat on your back with your left arm straight out to the side. Bend both knees to 90 degrees and gently let your knees fall towards your right. If you would like to increase the stretch, take your right hand and apply a slight downward pressure to your left knee. Also, look away from the direction that your knees are, towards your left outstretched arm. Hold this stretch for about 2 minutes and repeat with the other side.
Roll over and lie on your stomach. Place your hands about six inches to the sides of your shoulders and slightly in front of them. Stretch your lower back by pushing up with your hands and raising your chest off of the ground, try to keep your stomach on the ground. Repeat and hold for about 10 seconds each time.
Stand on one leg and bend the other leg to get your heel towards your butt. Grab your ankle with your hand and hold the stretch for about 45 seconds. To stretch this further, slowly move your bent knee backwards while flexing your quad muscle. Repeat with the other leg. It may help to use something to hold onto for balance.
Sit down with the bottoms of your feet together and your knees apart. Slowly lean forward at the hips to stretch the groin muscles again. Hold for about 2 minutes.
Remain in the same position, but straighten one leg out, resting the bottom of your other foot against the inside of your thigh. Slowly bend at the hips and reach toward your outstretched ankle to stretch your hamstring muscle. Hold for about 45 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Stand up and bend your knees slightly. Bend at the hips and reach toward your feet until you feel the stretch in your lower back and hamstrings. Hold for about 45 seconds.
Find a solid object such as a wall, tree or car that you can push up against to stretch your calf muscles. Stand a couple of feet away from the object, place your hands against it and one foot forward with the knee slightly bent. Straighten the other leg behind you by keeping the foot flat and bending the ankle. You should feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for about 45 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Stretch your triceps by standing up with your feet a little farther apart than shoulder width. Point your left arm straight up in the air. Keep your arm up, bend the elbow and reach with your left hand behind your head towards your right shoulder blade. Use your right hand to gently pull on your left elbow. You can stretch other muscles by bending to the right slightly at your hips. Hold for about 45 seconds and repeat with the other side.
Bend your fingers and wrists back gently to stretch each hand. This will help to prevent pain and cramping from braking and holding onto the handlebars.
Enjoy your ride! Also, remember that stretching after cycling will help to increase flexibility.
Dr. Crysta Serné
Chiropractor and Sports Therapist