While cycling is a great low-impact activity, it’s also extremely repetitive and can often lead to limited range of motion.
To combat tightness and pain, it’s important for cyclists to maintain a consistent stretching routine that focuses on the muscle groups that contract concentrically (shorten) during pedaling and can limit the mobility of your joints.
Give these six stretches a try to improve your flexibility and prevent common cycling injuries.
1. DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
What it helps: Since power is generated from the core and lower back during cycling, these areas can become fatigued and tight. This stretch releases tension along the entire spine and opens the hips while stretching the calf and hamstring muscles.
How: Begin on your hands and knees. Raise your hips up by straightening legs, keeping your hands on the ground and slightly in front of your shoulders. Contract the quadriceps, and push your hips back. Concentrate on pushing your heels toward the ground and keeping your spine as straight as possible.
Reps: Hold for 20–30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
2. DOORWAY STRETCH
What it helps: Because you never reach full leg extension during the pedaling motion, the hamstrings are in constant contraction. Hamstring flexibility and lower back pain often result. To counteract these common complaints, work on hamstring flexibility — particularly within 10–15 minutes of your ride.
How: Lie in a doorway with one leg flat on the ground. Place the other leg straight up on the frame of the door. Scoot your butt as close to the door frame as you can tolerate. Keep your back and hips flat on the ground.
Reps: Hold for 20–30 seconds, and repeat 3–4 times.
3. SEATED GLUTE/PIRIFORMIS STRETCH
What it helps: The glutes are your workhorses during cycling. You rely on your glutes to generate power during hard efforts like hill repeats. If these muscles become fatigued or tight, it could lead to lower back pain. This stretch will target the glutes and piriformis muscles, which attach to the backside of your pelvis.
How: Sit in a chair and cross one leg, with your ankle resting on the opposite knee. Keeping your back as straight as possible, bend forward at the hips so your shoulders fall toward the shin of the crossed leg.
Reps: Hold for 20–30 seconds, and repeat 3–4 times with each leg.