After Cycling Stretches & Stretching For Cyclists – UPDATED 2021
Since cycling revolves around spending hours on a saddle that limits movement. It is not uncommon that several issues can arise. From shortening of muscles, an increase in stiffness and soreness, it’s no wonder many people search for the best after cycling stretches or just stretches for cyclists in general.
In this article, we look at the best stretching for cyclists and mountain bikers that can be done after cycling. So, continue reading to learn about stretches during and after cycling.
Stretching For Cyclists – What Should You know?
Because cyclists spend countless hours seated on a bike, it is important to work on mobility. That means focusing on after cycling stretches and mobility work. Doing so can help reduce a power reduction caused by stiff, inflexible, and shortened muscles.
So if stretching after cycling is so important, why aren’t many people following through with this? Generally, cyclists dedicate most of their time to training and forget about keeping the body functioning as it should.
While this may work out in the beginning, as you increase the training load or get older, stretching after cycling because more and more important.
Age and training volume are not the only things that should make you start stretching. Bike position and aerodynamics are another.
That means the more you focus on stretching, the more aerodynamic your position will be. Thus making you faster and more efficient on the bike. It will also end up helping reduce power lost as the body becomes more fatigued. This is extremely important for time triallers and sprinters that require an aggressive position.
Stretching generally yields flexibility, which helps improve the range of motion around the joints. It also improves the pliability of muscle tissue and the general suppleness of each muscle you stretch.
Knowing all this, what are the best after cycling stretches that can help increase muscle length, mobility, and suppleness? Continue reading to find out more.
After Cycling Stretches – Which Are The Best?
There are many after cycling stretches you should focus on. However, in this article, we are going to focus on the most important stretches you should do post cycling.
The first post cycling stretches you should do after a ride is:
A common stretch most people know is the Quadriceps stretch.
Start by placing your knee on the floor and the forefoot on an elevated platform like a chair or sofa. then place the opposing knee in front of you. Next push your hips forward and your torso back. You should start to feel the stretch along the quadricep. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3-4 times with each quadricep.
Another common stretch for people that train a lot. The hamstring stretch is as important as the quadricep stretch for cyclists.
Start by standing up and extending one leg out in front of you. Knee down and allow your extending leg to rock onto its heel. AS you knee focus on straightening your extended leg until you feel a stretch along your hamstring. To increase the stretch push your chest forward. Hold for 10-15 secs and repeat with the other leg.
As a cyclist, there are three main muscles groups used. Quadriceps, hamstrings, and Glutes. Often the glutes end uptight and fatigued after hard days on the bike. Luckily there are some good stretches to help keep hip mobility on the bike. One of them is the Glute stretch which targets the TFL (tensor fasciae latae), hip flexors, and glutes.
Iliotibial Band (ITB) stretch
At some stage, most cyclists have experienced tight and painful ITB (Iliotibial). This usually ends up affecting knee alignment when pedaling as well as a rath of other issues. So stretching your ITB band should be up there with the hamstring, quadriceps, and glute stretching routine.
To stretch your ITB start by crossing your right leg in front of your left while standing up. Then bend over slowly like you are going to touch your toes. You should feel a gentle stretch along the ITB. However, if you have an extremely tight ITB from cycling, look at doing some foam rolling to release any tension before stretching.
While the calf muscle is used less than the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. You still should forget about stretching them. To stretch your calf muscles after cycling start by standing with one foot in front of the other (like you are doing a lunge). Then slowly bend the front leg while straightening the back leg. You should start to feel a slight stretch in the calf muscle. However, if you need to stretch it more, slowly slide the leg back behind you more.
Once you have mastered that position and can no longer feel a deep stretch, move into pushing against a wall to add more load to the stretch.
Since we spend multiple hours in a fixed position, it’s not surprising our lower back and upper chest get tight. The lumbar stretch is a perfect post cycling stretch to help elevate stiffness in the back and upper chest. To stretch the lumbar, start by lying on the floor face down. Next place the palm of your hands on the floor next to your ribs. Then push your hands into the ground, making you straighten your arms. This will then lift your hips, torso, and top of thighs off the ground. Hold for 10-15secs, then lower yourself back down slowly.
Neck/Upper Trap Stretch
Numbness in the fingers is common among cyclists, and this is largely caused by leaning too aggressively onto the bars. This often causes entrapment of the nerves in the neck. So stretching your neck and upper trap is something you shouldn’t forget in your post cycling stretching routine.
To stretch the neck, sit on a chair with a 90-degree bend in hips and knees. Focus on sitting up tall and place your left hand under your thigh. Then lean your neck away from your left hand to feel the stretch along the neck.
Pre-Cycling Stretches – Are They Worth Doing?
While most of this article is about post cycling stretches, you still should forget pre-cycling stretches. However, we don’t recommend you to stretch without some gentle warm-up on the bike first.
So before you start your pre-cycling stretching routine, spend at least 10-15 minutes cycling at low intensity. Then after that 10-15 minutes focus on some small 15-30 second efforts to warm up the muscles. That way, the muscles will already be warm and the blood will already be flowing to the muscles.
Paired with the above stretches and a decent warm-up, you should feel ready to go. Just remember to warm up first on the bike before you start stretching each muscle group.
Dynamic Stretching For Cyclists
While you can’t beat a good warm-up through easy riding and some high-intensity efforts, there are times where you may not be able to warm up on the bike. This may be because you need to place your mountain bike on the start line 30 minutes before an event or you are running late and need something quick to raise the heart rate. Either way, you can replace your normal warm-up routine with some dynamic stretching for cyclists.
While it is not recommended as a replacement for your normal cycling warmup routine, the below exercises can help you warm up without your bike.
– Side Shuffle.
– Backpedal Jog.
– Walking Knee to Chest.
– Lunge Walk with Twist.
– Straight Leg Kick.
– Heel-to-Rear Jog.
Just remember if you aren’t used to these types of exercises, make sure you try them in training first. This will reduce the chance of any mishaps before your event.