A. Dale Fernandez, D.C., chiropractor and League of American Bicyclists certified cycling instructor, shares his top stretches for cyclists below.
2. Hip Flexors
One of the more important muscles of your back is actually situated on the front of your spine, the psoas muscles. These are the primary muscles used when flexing your hip—the movement made when your knee goes towards your chest when you are pedaling. The psoas muscle is along the back wall of the abdominal cavity and originates from the sides of your lumbar vertebrae and extends down to the ball of your femur in your hip. This muscle is cylindrical and actually analogous to the filet mignon. Besides preventing a strained back, stretching this particular muscle group will allow for more of a fluid circular pedaling stroke, says Dr. Fernandez.
HOW TO STRETCH THE PSOAS:
This stretch is classified as a dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching will utilize some body momentum to enable the muscle to safely get a better stretch. Stand with your feet about hip width. You will effectively be doing a lunge to stretch the hip flexors by taking a comfortable step forward with one leg while you bend the back knee to touch the ground. After holding this pose for 20 seconds, bring the back leg back to standing position width hip apart. Repeat this three times on each side.
3. Hip Rotators
The piriformis is an external hip rotator. This is the muscle that pivots your foot laterally when you are standing. This muscle will actually have an effect on your knee and ankle during the pedal stroke rotation. This particular stretch is similar to pigeon pose which requires sitting on the ground. You can do this modified pigeon pose just sitting on a bench or chair instead.
HOW TO STRETCH THE HIP ROTATOR:
Sitting down on a bench, cross one leg over the other, resting the ankle on top of the knee. While sitting up straight you will bend forward from the hips approximating your chest to your thighs. You will be feeling the stretch on the back of the hip and buttocks. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds with five repetitions on each side.
4. Neck and Shoulders
The upper back and shoulders carry much of the weight of the torso when on a bike. Stretching these muscles will help with preventing tension developing during longer rides.
HOW TO STRETCH THE NECK AND SHOULDERS:
You can perform this stretch standing or sitting, or even already on the bike just as long as both feet are on steady ground. Flex your head gently forward feeling a stretch on the back of the neck. Next, slowly roll your head to the right approximating your right ear to the right shoulder. You will continue this slow roll extending your head gently backward then to the left shoulder and then returning with your head flexed forward. Perform this three times in each direction, clockwise and counterclockwise.
5. Upper Neck
Many cyclists tend to have tight upper necks due to the prolonged aerodynamic positions on the handlebars. This area of tension is where the back of the neck meets the base of the skull. Their necks would be in constant extension while maintaining eyes on the trail.
HOW TO STRETCH THE UPPER NECK:
A great way to stretch this would be doing a chin tuck, advises Dr. Fernandez. Facing your head forward, gently tuck your chin toward your neck. To get more of a stretch, you will use your index finger to gently push your chin. Hold this for 20 seconds and repeat five times.
Dr. Fernandez’s parting tip: Stretches should be performed to the point of tolerable tension and without any bouncing movement.
Find part one of this article here.