Post Cycle Stretches for Optimum Performance
Cyclists, especially those training regularly, may be renowned for their supreme cardiovascular ﬁtness, phenomenal power output and colossal thighs, but when it comes to ﬂexibility, it has to be said that most of us are decidedly lacking.
Cycling is a repetitive action performed though a limited range of motion, that over time can lead to something called “adaptive shortening’. This is essentially a shortening of the muscle fibres in the legs that can cause muscular imbalances and postural changes, and store up problems for the future.
Besides an increase in injury risk, your cycling performance could be at stake too. So what can we do about it? The best way to address it is to develop routine of post cycle stretches for optimal performance.
The good news is there are lots of exercises we can do to address the issues and improve our flexibility. We’re not looking to be able to do the splits and wrap your feet around your head, but we are aiming for a normal range of motion without tightness throughout the hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back, chest and shoulders. Focus on anything that lengthens the muscle groups just mentioned and essentially works in reverse of the position we use on the bike.
Yoga and general stretching techniques both work well.
Here are 5 Exercises to get you started:
Hamstrings get tight from the “up” portion of your pedal stroke, especially when you are riding out of the saddle. Slightly bend your knee at the beginning of the stretch, then extend your leg to go a bit deeper.
The calves provide a lot of power and speed, and also stabilize the ankle. Stretch them by pressing your back heel into the ground and then bend your back knee to go deeper.
It goes without saying that riding really works your bum. Stretch it out by placing one leg over the other and hugging your knee to your chest. Lean forward to increase the stretch and get the back of your hips.
Long rides can really stiffen your back, which is why it’s so critical to keep your core engaged while riding. You can also add a twist to your glute stretch to twist the spine. Sit up tall during this stretch and pull your belly button in to increase the rotation in the spine (see the picture).
QUAD/ HIP STRETCH
Your hips and quads help with the speed and rotation of your pedal stroke. Tight quads can result in sore knees and injury, while tight hips can reduce the amount of power output. Keep them flexible and fast by coming to one knee, leaning forward, and then leaning back and adding the reach over to effectively stretch your hip flexors.
Do these ‘Post Cycle Stretches for Optimum Performance’ regularly and you will really notice the difference on your rides.
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