Here in sunny San Diego cycling is very popular. Last year I was training for a fitness competition so I was running all over the place. I get bored easily with the same spots so I was constatnly seeking out new running trails. It was on these runs that I became aware of how many cyclists there are. There were the regular street bikes cruising around, the mountain bikers and then the racers. What surprised me though was how much time they put into stretching. Now this might be because I don’t really view recreational cycling as a sport, but after watching these enthsiasts I changed my opinion. Cycling can be intense!
Stretches for cycling will help improve your flexibility, whether you’re used to riding road bikes or full suspension mountain bikes. There might have beena time when you could just jump on your boys bike and ride without incurring any pain in your legs. You probably never even heard of lactic acid. I know I hadn’t. So our enthusiasm might be the same, but our bodies aren’t and can’t keep up like they used to. What do we do? Some warm-up stretches. They can also be used for cool-down stretches.
Start on all fours with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders on the floor and your toes tucked forwards. The next step is to breathe out and lift your knees from the floor and straighten your legs. While keeping your toes tucked under and your heels pressed to the floor, raise your hips up. Make sure you take at least five breaths before you drop back down to all fours. This is ideal to warm up your tight hamstrings.
Standing Calf Stretch
The first step is to place your hands flat against a wall at shoulder height, then take a step back with one leg making sure your feet are flat on the floor with your toes pointing straight forward. Next, start slowly leaning forward over your front leg making sure your back knee is straight and your heel firmly on the floor. Hold this position for 15 seconds before switching legs and repeating. This should make sure you fully stretch out your calves – you don’t want to get cramp on those difficult uphill climbs.
Keeping the soles of your feet against a wall (with your toes tucked under) sit in a kneeling position. You should then slowly rise up off your heels making sure you bring your thighs and torso upright. Inhale and slowly move your back into an arc when you exhale until you touch the wall with the back of your head. You should then move your hands back down towards your heels. This is essentially a yoga exercise, but they translate very well to cyclists as many really stretch out some of your core muscles. This is ideal for your groin, thighs and back, as well as stretching out your chest.
Begin by lying on your stomach and bring your right ankle to your buttock holding your foot with your right hand. Breathe for 20 breaths and then switch to the other side. As your flexibility begins to improve you may be able to grab both ankles at the same time. Once you’ve mastered this then you can lift your knees of the floor using your legs. This pose is perfect to stretch out those quads and hip flexors.
Featured Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/mushu2011/