As we all know, road cycling is a great way to get in shape (physically AND mentally) and enjoy the outdoors. However, if you're not used to it, cycling can be pretty uncomfortable.
In this blog post, we'll discuss five easy stretches that can help make your road cycling experience more enjoyable. These stretches can also help you recover more quickly and are best done before and after any ride.
They're intentionally super-quick to do. After all, more time faffing around with stretching means less time riding, so these will warm you up nicely whilst getting you out on the road in no time.
And yes, I know there is a lot out there on the t'interweb about the pros and cons of stretching; or whether you should be doing static (done whilst standing still) vs. dynamic (controlled, muscle-preparing movements) stretching. I've also read a few debates about whether stretching has any real benefits for road cyclists. All that aside, what I do know is this. I'm on the wrong side of 40 and have been riding for approximately 10 (ish) years. Whenever I do static stretching before and after a long ride I always feel better and more relaxed when in the saddle. Also, my recovery times are quicker and less painful. It might not work for everyone but it sure as hell works for me.
So, whether you're just starting or you've been riding for years, be sure to give these stretches a try to help keep some of the main muscles used in cycling the TLC they'll appreciate!
Lower back stretch:
This lower back stretch is a great way to loosen up your lower back and prepare for a ride. To do this stretch, you can use your hands or a towel (for extra leverage).
Lie down on your back and loop your hands or towel behind the crease of your bended knee. With your other leg flat on the floor, bring your bended knee as close to your chest as possible, making sure to keep your back flat on the ground. Hold for 10 - 12 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat if you feel the need to do so.
The hamstring stretch is another great way to get riding ready. To do this stretch, you'll need that strap and towel again.
Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop the strap or towel around one foot and hold on to the other end. Slowly pull your leg towards your chest, making sure to keep your back straight. Hold for 10 - 12 seconds and then switch legs. As before, repeat again if you're feeling a nice release of tension.
Hip flexors stretch:
Because you'll be spending a lot of time hunched forward on your bike you'll want to ensure you keep these little suckers in good shape. As someone who neglected them for too long, you'll thank me if you take care of them early into your cycling hobby.
To stretch them, you'll need a chair or bench. Step up onto the chair /bench with your left leg and let your right hang down. Keeping your back straight, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor. Hold for 10 - 12 seconds and then switch legs. Do a couple of times, switching between each side.
Quadriceps (Quads) stretch:
The quadriceps are responsible for straightening your leg, so it's important to keep them stretched out.
Stand up and grab onto a railing or doorframe for balance. Bend your left knee and bring your heel towards your butt. Hold for 10 - 12 seconds, ensure to keep your legs close together, and then switch legs. Do a couple of times for each leg.
The calf muscles play an important role in cycling, so it's important to keep them stretched out. To do this stretch, you'll need a step or ledge.
Stand facing the step with your toes on top of it. Slowly bring your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs, then hold for 10 12 seconds and switch legs a couple of times each. Try not to bounce during each rep.
So there you have it. I did say they were going to be super-quick. There are tons of other stretches out there, and I'm sure if you do a quick search on Google, or Duckduckgo (if you're into that sort of thing), then you'll find plenty more to add to your stretching routine.
As for me - I've got riding to do!
Happy Road Cycling!
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