Stretches to Improve Your Ride
Whether you’re biking for fun, for function or for fitness, stretching before and after your rides can make all the difference in your technique, speed and your body. Stretching can help you with flexibility, protect you from injury and help decrease muscle soreness. Here are some great stretches to do before and after your rides.
To start, stand facing a wall with your feet pointed forward. Place your hands flat on the wall in front of you about shoulder height. Next, bring one leg behind you and while keeping both feet flat on the ground, slowly lean forward into your front leg. The key is to keep your back leg straight and your feet firmly on the ground. You should feel the stretch in the calf on the back leg. Hold for about 15-20 seconds and then switch sides.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch targets your hamstrings which can become tight during long rides. Start by finding an elevated surface such as a chair or table that is just below your waist. Place one leg up on the surface with your leg out straight in front of you. Slowly lean your body, bending at the waist, toward the leg that is elevated. The key here is to keep your back straight and your hips squared forward. You should feel this stretch in your hamstring of the elevated leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then change legs.
Squats are a great way to stretch while warming up those quads and glutes. Begin with your feet shoulder width apart and then lower your bottom down towards the floor. You want to make sure your knees do not go past your feet and your back stays straight. For a deeper stretch, bring your thighs all the way down until they are touching your calves. With your head held up and looking straight ahead, hold for 30 seconds before slowly rising all the way into a full standing position. This deep stretch will help with hip flexibility which benefits your stability while pedalling. It is best to repeat this stretch 4-5 times to fully warm up your muscles.
Sitting up tall with your back straight, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you. While keeping your knees down, lean forward toward your feet. As with most stretches, be sure to keep your back straight. This stretch is great for the inner thigh as well as the outer hips.
Leg swings are a good warmup before hopping on your bike to really warm up your hips. Start by standing up straight and find something to brace yourself with, like a wall, desk or even your bike. While keeping your legs straight, swing the outside leg back and forth, reaching further each time. The key here is to keep your foot flexed so that you also get a nice calf stretch as well. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs. You can also face your wall or bike and swing each leg out to the side 10 times for an even better warm up.