Whether you bike to work a few times a week to stay in shape or you are biking to get ready for your next cycling vacation, getting a proper stretch in before your ride makes all the difference. For some, it feels like quite the hassle to consistently stretch before your ride, but the benefits of improved performance and protection from injury far outweigh the hassle in the long run.
Now, it’s not necessary to put yourself in a pretzel yoga pose before your ride to get a proper stretch, but some simple dynamic stretches do the job just fine. Dynamic stretches involve movement which is beneficial because it warms up your muscles and joints before your ride. We’ve listed some simple dynamic stretches you can do to help improve your ride and lower the chance of getting injured.
Your hips don’t lie! Anyone who has even been on a long ride can attest to the tightness in your hips you can sometimes get after the ride. For this stretch, simply find something to lean against and swing your outside leg forward and backward. Be sure to keep your leg stretched and extend the length of the swing with each repetition. Swing each leg 10 -15 times or however much you feel is necessary.
Even though you might not be planning to go for a run, doing a runner’s lunge stretch before your ride certainly helps stretch muscles used during cycling. To start with this stretch, take a big step forward with your right leg and bend the knee to 90 degrees. Be sure keep your knee directly above your ankle and straighten the back leg as much as you can. Bring your hands down to the floor and place them next to each side of your front foot. Hold for 2-3 seconds and then come back up. Repeat 5 – 8 times for each leg.
This dynamic stretch kicks your butt. Literally. Butt kicks help open up your quad and hip flexors which are extremely important to warm up pre-ride. To start, stand in place and kick each leg towards your butt. For the best stretch possible, try to kick your leg as far back as you can. Continue this dynamic stretch for 30-60 seconds or however long feels necessary.
A high knee stretch is almost similar to the motions you make while riding a bike but with more emphasis on the upward motion which works your quadriceps, calves, and glutes. For this stretch simply try to kick up each knee as high as possible.
Now you might be thinking that a squat would be more suitable for a weightlifting workout routine, but an active squat can really help stretch out your lower back, quadriceps, glutes, and calves as well. Start by grabbing the handlebar and frame of your bike for support and lower down into a squat position. Hold at the bottom of the squat for 2 – 3 seconds and repeat.
While your lower body is certainly an important area to stretch for cycling, your shoulders also do quite a bit of work as well. For this stretch, reach your arms into the sky and extend up as far as possible. Then shrug your shoulders up and down. Be sure to keep your biceps next to your ears and your fingertips pointing to the side for the best possible stretch of your latissimus dorsi.
Hunching over a bike for miles on end will certainly tighten up your chest. Before you start pedaling it’s a good idea to get a good chest stretch in so that your muscles won’t be so tight later in the day. Start by grabbing the seat post and the top tube of your bike and bend over 90 degrees into this stretch. Hold this position for 3 – 5 seconds.
Be sure to share this article with a friend you know who hates stretching before a ride, so they can see just how easy it is to get a proper stretch in!