16 Apr 2018

STRETCHING POSITIONS FOR CYCLING

Cycling is one of the few sports in which muscle fibers contract only concentrically and not eccentrically, meaning there’s no other plane of motion, such as rotational or lateral movement.

Greater flexibility in cycling can give a decided advantage. Riders can have:

1. More comfortable fit on their bike

2. Greater aerodynamics

3. Lower possibility of cramping

4. Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body

5. Increased range of movement in the joints.

The most important areas that riders have to stretch out are: stiff quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and chest muscles and the I.T. bands on the sides of your legs. Hold all positions for the 30-60 seconds so that muscles (especially the hamstrings) can be restored to their proper length.

Here are the most common post-ride stretching positions recommended for cycling:

1) Wall Calf Stretch

Stand facing a wall with toes pointing forward. Place your hands flat against the wall at shoulder height. Step one individual foot back about 2-3 foot lengths then place flat on the floor.

2) Expanded Leg Pose

Begin with your feet very wide apart (the wider apart the feet, the easier it will be on the hamstrings). Placing your hands on your hips, inhale deeply and then bend forward on the exhale, bringing the torso only as far down as you can while maintaining a long spine. If your hamstrings are particularly tight, the knees can be bent slightly, releasing any tension in your back. Return upright slowly and one vertabrae at a time using the stomach muscles to rise. Repeat three times.

3) Quad Stretch

Start on all fours with the soles of your feet against a wall. Take your right knee off the floor and place it against the wall with your toes pointing upwards on the wall and your shin against the wall. Slide your knee down towards the floor, making sure that the shin and knee are in contact with the wall at all times. Re-arrange the left leg so that the sole of the foot is now on the floor. The left shin and thigh should be making a 90-degree angle. Take at least five breaths. This is an intense stretch. Gradually take your hands off the floor and on an inhale, place your hands lightly on your left knee. 

4) Seated Glut Stretch and Hip Opener

Sitting on a chair, have the sole of the right foot on the floor in line with the right knee. Place your left ankle on and just beyond the right knee. Keeping the spine as long as possible, inhale then fold at the hips on the exhale, bringing your torso over your left shin. Take at least five breaths. The right forearm rests on the inside of the left foot while the left forearm is placed at the front of the right knee (over the left foot).

5) Revolved Belly Pose

It releases tension in the spinal column, hips and shoulders and relieves discomfort in the lumbar spine. Lying on your back with your knees bent, bring them into your chest. Inhale and, with the next exhalation, roll your knees to the right side and rest them on a pillow. Stretch both arms outwards along the floor to open the space between the shoulder blades then, as the lower back gradually releases, straighten the legs out slowly, aiming to eventually have your toes touch the hand nearest them.

6) I.T. Band (Iliotibial Band) Stretch

Stand tall with right leg crossed over left. Lean to the right (towards front leg) until you feel a stretch along the side of left leg. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply the entire time. Repeat 5 times before switching sides.