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Cycling stretches on the move.

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Whether you are a coffee rider, elite racer or weekend warrior stretching is for you. But let's face it, most of us don’t make enough time for it. I am a big believer in incorporating stretches into our daily routine, or adding some stretching while doing sipping on that coffee or waiting for our friends on that ride. Make it happen and your body will thank you.

From a strength perspective, cycling requires force repeatability. The cyclist must be able to generate a consistent amount of force over and over again. A cyclist will only get strong in the ranges of motion that is trained. This is why stretching our muscles is so critical. We want to work the full range of motion in each and every pedal stoke - through your knees, hips, and ankles. Exercises will be most beneficial in mimicking those same joint angles. This needs to be done all while considering the amount of stabilization, and balance that it takes to support the body through the leg movement.

The muscle focus of a cyclist includes:

  • Quadriceps in the upper leg

  • Hip flexors

  • The gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf

  • Tibialis anterior and posterior

  • Hamstrings

  • Adductors

  • Abdominal and lateral flexor stabilization

  • Neck

  • Shoulders

These muscles need to both be strengthened as well as well stretched. This blog focuses only on the stretching aspect. Typically speaking, a cyclist is strong but tight.

If you are at home you can do a good warm-up and cool down using the following exercise sequence:

Shin/foot stretch - plantar flexion your feet and lift up knees if you can.

Calves (both gastroc/soleus) by putting hands on the wall and one leg back (extend this leg bend the knee and move from side to side).

Quadriceps stretch - standing and holding one foot. Keep your pelvis neutral or even move towards a posterior tilt to get a greater stretch.

Upper back/rhomboids/neck - “Thread a needle”, arms parallel up against a wall and reach the arm up and over, back up against the ball and reach the arms up to the ceiling and then back down.

Neck strengthening and stretching up and over a big ball. Lift up into a chest lift to add abdominal work.

Back stretching: Cat Stretch stretches the lower back and works your abdominals. It also teaches you good alignment through the spine and the upper girdle.

If you are on the move here are some great ways you can stretch on the go.

Glutes - cross one leg in front of the other and drop your pelvis down towards the ground. keep your hips at the same height.

Quadriceps stretch - standing and holding one foot. Keep your pelvis neutral or even move towards a posterior tilt to get a greater stretch.

Hamstrings (picture 1) - lift your leg up and keep your hips on the same line. soften your supporting leg if you need to.

Calves (2,3) - reach down to touch the toes of one foot while lifting the toes up towards you. Soft the supporting leg if you need to. Keep your hips on the same line.

Hip flexors and hips (4,5) - lung forward and drop the pelvis down. keep the hips on the same alignment in neutral or even move towards a posterior tilt for a bigger stretch. On the bike, you can push your hips forward to open and stretch them out.

Inner thighs (6) - take your leg out to the side and keep your hips in neutral. Flex your foot and lift your arm for a greater stretch.

Upper back and lower back:

Reach your arms forward and position your spine in a table top. soften the knees if you need to.

Cat stretch (pictures 2, 3, 4) - lift your upper back up and round your lower back.

On the bike (5,6) - open the hips up and push your pelvis back.

Neck - tilt your head to the side. you can also add taking your eyeliner down towards the ground for a slightly different neck stretch.

By giving you a more stretched body for your bike ride, your limbs can move with ease independently. This will allow your power output to increase as you move more efficiently. Enjoy that faster ride.


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