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10 Minute Post Cycling Stretching Routine

I grew up a football player.

It is estimated that about 8% of the population aged five+ cycles three or more times a week (equating to around 5.1 million people in Great Britain)*. Yet, few of those cyclists are aware of the potential strain and even damage they could be inflicting on their bodies by failing to stretch after riding their bike.

Cycling is actually unique compared to jogging, walking, or other cardio exercises because our bodies are not naturally attuned to the range of motions used when pedaling. This means it is more likely to foster bad posture or muscular imbalance (when muscles are not symmetrical). In addition, pedaling can cause muscle fibers to actually shorten overtime.

Now, before you go tossing your bike out by the kerb or forsake your favorite exercise machine at the gym, understand that cycling is a healthy and fantastic way to get in shape, lose weight, get to work, or just enjoy a sunny day.

However, cycling can also have a shorten muscle fibers cause postural issues if you don’t maintain a proper diet (I am a huge fan of Quest Bars on the go) and stretch your muscles after completing your ride.

Here are ten simple stretches that should be done for about a minute each after getting off the bike.

1. Wall Calf Stretch

Start by finding an open wall space and facing it. With your hands flat against the wall (straight out, at shoulder length) place your first foot at the base of the wall. Your other foot should be about a half meter behind you. Next, lean into the wall, over your front leg, while keeping your back knee straight and not bent. This will begin to stretch the larger calf muscle. Hold this position and count to fifteen. Then, gradually bend your back knee slightly, which will begin to trigger the lower portion of your calf. Hold again for fifteen seconds, and then switch legs and repeat the process.

10 Minute Post Cycling Stretching Routine

2. Camel Pose

The camel yoga position helps loosen a number of muscles and is great for correcting the postural affects of cycling because it stretches the back, chest, shoulders, groin, thighs, and other smaller muscle groups. Kneel at the base of the same wall used in the calf stretch above, but this time face away from the wall. The soles of your feet should be against the wall, with your toes just barely touching the base. As you begin the stretch, rise off your heels and bring your thighs and torso upright, so that your body is essentially a backwards L-shape.

Next, take a deep, inhale, and begin to arch backwards towards the wall. As you are bending backwards, slowly exhale the breath. Continue arching your back until, ideally, your head touches the wall and your hands are touching your heels. If you cannot fully reach this position, stretch to your limit. Hold the position for several seconds before coming back to the start position for a rest. Then, repeat and try and push your limitation a little further each time.

10 Minute Post Cycling Stretching Routine

3. Bent Over Reach

This is a common stretch and is great for reducing tightness in the hamstrings. Start standing, and then, begin bending forward at the waist. Your knees should only be bent very slightly. As you bend over, reach towards the ground with your arms and maintain steady, but deep breaths. Similar to the camel pose, you want to stretch as far as your body allows. The deep breathing will actually help relax the muscles while you stretch and allow you to push a little further. The goal is to get your hands as close to the ground as possible, without bending your knees anymore than necessary.

As with all of these stretches, try to aim for a minute by breaking the stretch into two or three reps.

4. Revolved Belly Pose

Another yoga position, this one directly alleviates tension in the hips, back (specifically the spine and lumbar) and shoulders. To begin, lie on your back and stretch your arms straight out to either side; this helps open the muscles in your shoulders. Place a pillow to your side, parallel with your hips. Next, bend your knees and bring them up to your chest, with a deep breath in. As you exhale, rotate your hips and legs to the side until they touch the pillow. Hold this position for fifteen seconds while continuing to breathe deeply.

Then, gradually straighten your legs. Ideally, you will be able to touch your outstretched hand with your foot. Again, stretch to your limit and do not over exert. Hold this straightened position for another fifteen seconds before repeating the entire process with your hips (and the pillow) rotated to the other side of your body.

5. Oblique V-Ups

Start by lying on either side. The arm closest to the ground should be stretched out, above your head, but flat against the ground. Bend your other arm at a 45-degree angle, and place your hand against the side of your head (your elbow should now be straight up in the air). Next, position your legs slightly forward from the rest of your torso. Your body should slightly resemble the shape of the letter C.

To begin the stretch, raise both legs up, while simultaneously bringing your torso up. The goal is to bring your elbow up to meet the middle of your thigh. Each completed stretch should look like the letter V, with your hip being the vertex. Hold the position for a few seconds, before shifting back to the C. Repeat 10-12 times before turning to the other side and repeating. This triggers muscles in your hips, abdomen, back and, as the name suggests, oblique.

6. Seated Glute and Hip Opener Stretch

While seated with one foot on the ground, bring the other to rest on your opposite knee. This position is similar to how you may cross your legs normally. Next, breathe in and gradually begin to fold at the hips until your torso is over the crossed leg. During this slow stretch, aim to keep your spine as straight as possible. Hold this position for as long as you can comfortably, while remembering to continue breathing deeply to improve flexibility. You should be able to manage five deep breaths before unfolding.

This stretch is perfect for anyone who uses a bike to get to work, as it can be done easily and inconspicuously at your office desk.

7. Quad Stretch

This next stretch utilizes the clear wall space once again. To start, get on your hands and knees with your feet up against the wall. Then, move one leg backwards so that the knee is at the base of the wall and your shin is pointing straight up (while also against the wall). At the same time, bring your opposite leg forward, placing the foot flat on the ground, thus creating a 90-degree angle between the shin and thigh. This stretch is a lot like ‘taking a knee,’ except your back leg is vertical against the wall.

Similar to previous positions — try to hold for thirty seconds before switching the position of your legs. The quad stretch targets the hip flexors, spine and, of course, the quadriceps.

8. Scissor Leg Raises

The start position for scissor leg raises is to lay flat on your back with your legs together. To begin, raise one leg up into the air. You should aim to raise it to 45 degrees, but less is okay if you experience strain. Meanwhile, your opposite leg should hover just off the ground. You will immediately feel your quadriceps and lower abdomen stretching and working to keep this position. Take one deep breath before switching legs. Continue to repeat this breathing and switching legs until you reach the minute mark or can no longer hold the position.

9. Downward Facing Dog

A popular and beneficial yoga position, the downward facing dog, alleviates a number of muscle groupings, including the back (especially the lumbar), hips, and the backs of your legs. To perform the stretch, first start on all fours,with your hands slightly forward, beyond your shoulders. Next, shift from resting on your knees and hands, to the soles of your feet and hands. This will cause your bottom to lift high in the air, which will stretch out the back, all the way down to your hamstrings. Hold the position and repeat a few times as necessary.

10. Supported Bound Angle Pose

Ideally, you will want some sort of reclined back support for this stretch. However, a pile of folded blankets or a large cushion (or two) works just as well. What is nice about this position is that it can be comfortably held for a while, thus it is nice to end with and continue enjoy as you relax after the routine.

Start by sitting (with your blankets, pillows or other back support behind you) and placing the bottom of your feet against one another, so that your legs form the shape of a diamond. Next, simply recline backwards, utilizing the comfort of the cushion behind you to cradle your back, and use your arms and elbows to keep yourself in that reclined position. This will ease pressure in the groin, hips, shoulders, chest and diaphragm.

Conclusion

Biking is a wonderful source of exercise and a great way to get to work or around town. Do not let the fear of muscle fiber shortening, muscular imbalance, or bad posture stop you from enjoying a healthy life. All of these potential risks are easily avoided by taking just a few minutes after your ride is over to loosen and stretch out the tensed muscle groups. Many of the stretches you can do, including the ones listed above, can be down at home or even at the office. Thus, you can continue promoting self-health and wellness, even after your bike ride is over.

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