You may have been slacking with your yoga practice, never have given thought to stretching, or think you’re not flexible enough, but that is no reason to skip this easy and highly beneficial post ride stretching routine. Stick to these few easy must-do stretches after your ride and your body will thank you.
Standing or Seated Forward Bend
This is a simple and very effective stretch to loosen those tight hamstrings, which tighten with exercise and can lead to back pain.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
According to On the biomechanics of cycling. A study of joint and muscle load during exercise on the bicycle ergometer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3468609) published in the Scandinavian journal of rehabilitation medicine, the knee extensors muscles (quads) produced 39%, hip extensor muscles 27%, hip flexors 4%, knee flexors 10%, and ankle plantar flexors 20% of the total positive mechanical work. The kneeling quad stretch is an effective stretch that simultaneously targets your quads and your hip flexors. From a kneeling position, place one leg forward so that the front knee makes a 90 degree angle and the back leg extends behind you. Grab the top of your foot or shoe of your back leg, and pull it towards your glutes until you feel a gentle stretch and hold it for 5 full breaths to release the tension and stiffness.
If you are stretching outdoors and don’t have a convenient place to put your knee down on, you can also do the standing quad stretch by holding on to a wall or a tree, grabbing your foot by the shoe laces and bringing your foot towards your glutes until you feel a stretch.
Tightness in the glutes and the iliotibial band, also called the IT band, is a common problem among cyclists and runners. The IT band is a thick band of fascia running on the outside of the upper leg, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. This one effective stretch hits both the glutes and the IT band at the same time, helping stave off chronic and painful tightness of the iliotibial band. On the back leg, it also opens up the hip flexor. Go slow and practice caution with this stretch, especially if you have knee or sacroiliac joint injuries.
Standing Neck Stretch
Trying to maintain an aerodynamic position while keeping an eye on the road can put strain on a cyclist’s neck. Gently stretch your neck forward and to each side to relieve any tension that has built up. Remember to keep your eyes open throughout this stretch.
Triceps support your on the handlebars and the aerobars and do a lot of work, especially on long rides. Raise one arm so that your elbow lies by your ear and drop your forearm down towards your back. To relax your tricep muscles, keep this pose for 5 breaths while supporting your elbow with your other hand.