Cycling isn't a weight-bearing exercise so you don't get too many injuries but prevention is better than cure so it's best to be prepared. Stretching helps to keep your body loose and remove any tension. Ideally, your body should be as loose and relaxed as possible as tense mucles and ligaments certainly increase risk of injury.
Here are 8 of my favourite stretches to target the key muscle groups used when cycling:
1. QUAD STRETCH
- Stand in a relaxed position.
- Raise your back leg behind you, bending your knee so that your heel touches your bum.
- Lightly hold your raised heel with your hand, pulling it in towards you. Hold for 30secs. This increases the intensity of the stretch.
- Return to standing position. Repeat on the other leg.
2. HAMSTRING STRETCH A
- Lift your leg onto a raised platform.
- Bend at the hips to stretch your hamstring. (Remember to keep your spine straight as you bend.) Hold.
- Repeat on the other leg.
3. HAMSTRING (& GLUTE) STRETCH B
- Lay on your back on the floor, legs straight and together.
- Pull your right knee to your chest. Hold.
- Return to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
4. ITB (ILIOTIBIAL BAND) STRETCH
- Sit upright and cross one leg over the other. (E.g. If I’m putting my right leg over my left leg, then I put my left arm over the opposite leg, applying a moderate amount of pressure, and look in the opposite direction.)
- You should feel the stretch all the way down the IT band. If you don’t, apply more pressure with your arm.
5. HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
- Begin on your knees with one leg in front and one knee on the ground.
- Pull your back leg behind you so you feel the stretch all the way down your hip flexor. Mine get really tight with cycling so this really helps.
- To increase the intensity of the stretch, squeeze your glutes throughout the stretch.
6. CALF STRETCH
- Lean into a wall. Keep your right leg forward with the foot flat on the floor. Then extend your left leg straight back, placing your heel flat on the floor.
- Hold for 30secs.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- Stand up straight, feet together.
- Bending at the knee, lift your left leg up behind you. Support your ankle with your left hand.
- With one knee bent and both knees/thighs together, gently draw your leg backwards. (Remember to keep your back straight.)
- Lie on your back. Draw your left knee over your body with the opposite hand.
- Hold your left arm out to the side to prevent you from rolling over.
- Move your knee up and down until you feel a strong stretch.
- Repeat on the other side.
PROGRESSION: To stretch the deeper piriformis muscle, which is notoriously tight…
- Lie on your back and pull your left knee towards your chest.
- Wrap your right leg behind to push your top leg further up.
- Using your hand, push the top knee down and away from you. You should feel a lovely deep stretch in your hip.
‘People often assume that your glutes relate to your bum but their role is so much more important than that. They’re important core muscles. Not only are they responsible for straightening your leg from the hip but they’re even more powerful than your thigh muscles – vital for improving your cycling technique!’
And finally... You should also use a foam roller to relieve any muscle tension and knots. This can be used on any body areas depending on where you feel you need it most. For smaller areas (e.g. the groin), use a hockey ball instead.
For more information or to train with Dani, visit www.roweandking.com