Monday, 8 April 2019

Stretches for Cycling

Whether you are a racer, ride trails, commute or just ride on the weekend it's important to know these 8 simple stretches to improve your ride! 

Cycling requires a flexed posture and a lot of repetitive movement through the lower body that can lead to tension and muscle pain when not balanced. Over time this muscle tension can lead to shortened or limited range of motion.

By lengthening the muscles the body can increase flexibility to regain postural balance. This also combats the formation of adhesions, fascial restrictions and protects proper circulation and range of motion.

Stretching is an important part of maintenance for your biking routine. It is helpful for recovery and injury prevention.

Here are 8 Stretches (and variations) to keep you cycling happily this season

Cat & Cow

Targeted Muscle: Spinal erectors (cervical, thoracic and lumbar)

How to Do: Stack hips over knees and shoulder over palms.
Cat: Tuck the chin in. Press into the palms allowing the shoulder blades to separate. Press the mid back up towards the ceiling.
Cow: Lift the chin, drop the breast bone towards the mat and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Press the belly button towards the mat. Inhale to cow, exhale to cat. Repeat slowly for 15 breaths.

Benefit: Cat and Cow are a great way to tune back into your breath and move your spine through flexion and extension. This is good after long rides or prolonged sitting to help reset postural muscles of the trunk.


Targeted Muscle: Hip flexors, Abdominals, Pectoralis major & minor, anterior neck

How to Do: Kneel on your shins, stacking ears over shoulders and shoulders over hips. Bring hands to low back and squeeze shoulders together, lifting the breast bone as the heart tilts upwards. Chin lifts as you lean backwards. Hold for 30 seconds.

Helps to open the front of the body including the neck, chest and hip flexor. Important to reset postural after rides and prolonged sitting.


Targeted Muscle: Abdominals, Psoas

How to Do: Lay on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees towards the ceiling. Bring your arms out wide and tuck your shoulders underneath you. Push down through the soles of your feet, shoulders and back of the head.  Squeeze through your glutes as you lift belly and chest to the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds.

This posture helps to tone and strengthen the hamstrings, glutes and lower spinal erectors. This posture stretches the hip flexors (TfL, rectus femoris) and opens the chest to reset biking posture.


Targeted Muscle: Shin muscles, Quadricep muscles of the thigh, hip flexors (tfl, psoas), abdominals and pectoralis major.

How to Do: Kneel on your shins sitting back allowing the feet to open wider than the hips. Reach behind you and begin to lean back until you have a comfortable stretch through the front of the thighs and front of the body. If possible recline to your elbows or to the floor raising arms above head as you push the backs of the shoulders to the mat and allow the heart to lift. Hold for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Allows a stretch through the quadriceps and hip flexors while opening the chest and the front of the body.

 Bound Angle

Targeted Muscle: Adductor group (Muscles of the inner thigh)

How to Do: Sit tall, bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees fall open and gently pull towards the ground. Forward fold to intensify the stretch as needed. Hold for 30 seconds.

Helps to release tension the muscles of the inner thigh and that attach onto the pelvis.


Targeted Muscle: Hip flexors & quadriceps

How to Do: Come into a lunge position with on hand on the side of the front foot while bringing the back knee to the ground. Tuck the chin in and stretch the spine long while squeezing the shoulders together. The front leg should have the knee stacked over the ankle. Lean the body weight into the front leg. Hold for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Helps to stretch out tight hip flexors and quadriceps while toning postural muscles.

Targeted Muscle: Hip flexors quadriceps

How to Do: Come into a lunge position with both hands on the inside of the front foot. Start to push into the baby toe side of the front foot and allow the knee to open away from the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.

Benefit: This variation helps to strengthen pelvic ligaments and the adductor attachments to the pelvis.

Targeted Muscle: Hip flexors & quadriceps

How to Do: Come into a lunge position and lift the torso to bring shoulders over hips. Lean the body weight into the front leg with the front arm learning on the quad for balance. With the back leg point your toes and pull them up towards the ceiling. If possible reach you hand/strap to the foot. Hold for 30 seconds.

Benefit: This variation isolates the deeper hip flexors like psoas as well as a release of the quadriceps muscles.


Targeted Muscle: Bent leg: Piriformis, Lateral quadricep and hamstring. Opposite leg: Psoas

How to Do: Begin on hands and knees on all fours. Bring your left ankle behind your right wrist and gently lay your leg onto the floor in front of you. Let the right leg drop down on the floor extending behind you and feel the line of pull along the left hip. The body can stay activated by pressing through the hands placed in front of them and maintain a long flat spine. Tuck the chin in to neutralize the spine. Hold for 30 seconds.

This muscle helps to release tight glutes, piriformis and psoas- those hard-working muscles that attach to the pelvis.

Thread the Needle

Targeted Muscle: Piriformis, adductor (inner thigh) twist: Glute med/min

How to Do: Lay on your back, bring one baby toe to the opposite thigh. Gentle peel knee away from your chest. Add the twist by allowing the foot of your bent leg drop to the floor.

Benefit: This pose helps to release the muscles of the lateral pelvis (Gluteus Medius and Minimus) as well as piriformis. The twist allows a stretch through the lower lumbar spine.

If you are looking at taking up a new activity like cycling let your healthcare team help keep you moving. Getting a regular massage, chiropractic or osteopathic care can be great to support physical hobbies and athletic endeavours and help prevent injuries. Physiotherapy can be an excellent path for injury rehabilitation. Talk to your practitioner next time you are in the clinic, we can help tailor your homecare to your specific needs.

Megan Prenty RMT, YT

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Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for general educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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