Anatomy of the Ride: Stretching for Cyclists

Even though we spend time stretching after every ride at Revolve, it’s important to stretch regularly on your own to avoid injury and keep your muscles loose! Here are six easy stretches that will help prolong your love for cycling.

Calf Stretch

20130816-113516.jpg

Your calves deserve a break after all of the walking and riding you do. Thank your calves by doing this quick and simple stretch:

Stand about two feet away from a wall with your feet facing straight ahead. Step forward with your right leg and bend your knee while keeping your left foot firmly planted on the ground. Use the wall in front of you to support your body weight.

Keep your hips forward until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Quad Stretch

20130816-114449.jpg 20130816-114742.jpg

Our quads do a lot of the work in an indoor cycling class, so it’s important to give them a moment to unwind and relax. You can simply do a standing quad stretch by reaching back with your right hand and grabbing your right foot at the top of the ankle, and pulling towards your rear while keeping your knees together and pelvis tucked under. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

If you want a deeper stretch, kneel down on to your right knee. Keep both knees at 90 degree angle and your hips facing forward as you gently tilt your pelvis upwards. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. This will not only deepen your quad stretch, but also loosens up your hip flexors.

Loosen Up That IT Band

20130816-115231.jpg

Your IT (Iliotibial) Band is a tendon that runs along the side of your leg and carries most of your body weight when you are standing. Phew! That poor IT Band must be exhausted after standing AND cycling.

For this one, you’ll need a towel or a Thera-Band. Begin by lying down on the ground and lifting your right leg. Wrap your towel or Thera-Band around the ball of your foot. Turn your right foot towards your right shoulder and keep your hips on the ground. Gently lean your leg towards your left shoulder. You should feel the stretch running along the outside of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Stretching Those Hammies
20130816-115247.jpg

When your quads are lengthened, your hamstring is engaged. Having tight hamstrings is just as problematic as having tight quads.

Give your hammies some lovin’ by sitting on the floor with your hips facing forward and your legs out in front of you. Plant your left foot on the ground and bend forward to reach towards your toes. If you have tighter hamstrings, you can use your towel or Thera-Band to help you reach your toes. Both sitz bones should remain on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Booty Stretch

20130816-115253.jpg

We work our butts off climbing those heavy hills. Since the gluteal muscles are one of the most powerful muscles in your body, it’s important to loosen up that booty and give them a break.

Lie on your back with both knees pointing towards the ceiling. Cross your right ankle onto your left quad. Interlace your fingers behind your left thigh and bring your left thigh towards your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Stretch Your Core

20130816-115258.jpg

We spend so much time hunched over on our bikes, so it’s important to reset your posture and stretch your core.

You can do a simple cobra stretch by lying on the ground facing down. Place both palms on the side of your chest and push up. Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. Feel free to keep your elbows slightly bent or coming down on your forearms if you find that it’s straining your back.

What’s your favorite way to stretch after a ride? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @RevolveNYC and @RevolveDC!

Stretch Tip: Hip Flexors

Hip flexors are the group of muscles that bring the legs up towards the trunk and work together to flex the hip.  They are also perhaps the easiest muscle group to tighten up as cyclists.  This is because the thigh cannot fully extend with the motion of cycling.  So how do riders avoid experiencing stiff-ness in these muscles?  The answer is stay limber with the right stretches.  Here is a basic stretch as well as a more advanced modification.  You’ve likely seen them and executed them before during your cool downs at Revolve!
Basic Hip Flexor Stretch:

  1. Start in a forward lunge position placing your hands gently on the knee out in front of you.
  2. Press down with your hands and extend the hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip, groin, and thigh.
  3. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds.  Repeat steps 1-3 on the other leg.

Photo Credit: http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/denise-austina-s-essential-stretches-1967650

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced Hip Flexor Stretch:

  1. Begin in a forward lunge position and drop your back knee to the floor.
  2. Raise your arms and hands up over your head looking up to the sky.
  3. Press your hips forward and down toward the floor and feeling the stretch through your torso, hip, groin, and thigh.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds.  Repeat steps 1-3 on the other leg.

    Photo Credit: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/runningworkouts/tp/BestRunningStretches.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: It is important that your forward lunging knee not extend over your toe.  Be mindful of keeping your knee over or behind your ankle.