Be honest with yourself for a moment. Do you stretch before you go out on a ride? If you do, how long do you spend stretching? How many stretches do you do?
I have to admit that I was a skeptical stretcher before devoting myself to cycling. When I started out, I’d do a couple of easy lunges and call it good. However, I soon realized that my lack of stretching was causing stiffness and decreased flexibility during my rides. Furthermore, I began feeling pressure on my joints and worried I would sustain an injury. After talking to some cyclist buddies, I began to realize the importance of stretching before riding. After starting a stretching routine before my rides, I began feeling the effects immediately. Not only did my flexibility immediately improve, but my ride times increasingly became shorter.
Here, I’ll share with you my stretching regiment so that you, too, can improve your riding simply by stretching before you head out on the road.
Find an open wall. Facing the fall, place your hands a bit higher than shoulder height. Bend one knee and keep the other leg straight. Then, lean forward through your hips to achieve a stretch through your calves. Hold and count, pushing forward, for 12 seconds on each side.
2. Achilles Tendon
Staying in a similar position, slightly bend the back knee while keeping the same foot flat. This is a downward stretch that is lower than the calf stretch. This is important to do to prevent achilles tendon injury and to maintain ankle flexibility. Hold for twelve seconds on each side.
For this stretch, I lower onto the floor and lie on my back. I then extend one leg into the air at a ninety degree angle to the ground and leverage it with an exercise band. I pull back to achieve a stretch and hold on each side for 12 seconds.
In this position lying flat on my back, I bend my knees, cross my legs, and pull on my upper hamstring of the uncrossed leg. This achieves a glute stretch that I hold on each side for 12 seconds.
On the floor, I roll onto my stomach and proceed to stretch my quadriceps. I do this by grabbing each ankle and pulling back gently. I hold each ankle for 12 seconds before moving on.
6. Arms, Shoulders, and Back
Finally, before I leave, I stand back up to stretch my arms, shoulders, and back. This stretch is my favorite. I reach my arms behind my back and interlace my fingers. Then, I tilt my shoulders back, pressing my shoulder blades together, and pull downwards. I hold this stretch for 12 seconds.
If you do this routine, I’m sure that you’ll find, I as I have, that your flexibility increases and your chances of injury decreases. Best of luck to you all out there, and happy riding!
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