Whether you’re a casual rider with a favourite coffee shop stop, a Wattbike warrior or a pro riding hundreds of kilometres a week, there is no debate that stretching helps with recovery and injury prevention after cycling. Although a low impact sport, cycling can easily lead to injuries from overuse and repetition without the correct recovery, no matter how long or short your rides.
5 Stretches to Try After Cycling Training
Osteopath Megan Palmer shares five simple stretches that you should be doing after cycling to help prevent injury and aid your recovery, with modifications to allow you to perform the stretches within your own level of mobility.
1. SEATED HAMSTRING STRETCH
Benefits:Stretches hamstrings and lower back
How to do it:Sit with one leg straight and the other bent, placing your foot wherever comfortable along your inner thigh of the straight leg. Reach towards your foot until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh while keeping your leg and back straight. Hold in this position for 30-60 seconds and then rotate your torso to bring your arm over your head and stretch your lower back on the side opposite to the leg you are stretching. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, then change legs.
Modifications:Reach and place a hand anywhere down your leg, depending on your current level of mobility, only holding on to your toes if able to while maintaining a straight leg and back. Remember how far you’re able to reach down your leg and try and improve on this each time you stretch!
2. DOWNWARD DOG
Benefits:Stretches hamstrings, calves, ankles, back, shoulders, neck and chest
How to do it:Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and slightly in front of your shoulder and knees, directly under your hips. Lift your hips up allowing your arms and legs to straighten. Make sure your knees are pointing forwards and not falling in. Think about trying to bring your heels to the floor. Slowly cycle through each leg by bending one knee at a time, to encourage the stretch further on the straight leg. Bend and straighten each leg 10 times.
Modifications:The wider apart your hands and feet are, the easier the stretch becomes
3. LOW LUNGE
Benefits:Stretches hip flexors (quadriceps and psoas) and slight stretch of hamstrings
How to do it:From your downward dog, step one foot forwards and place it between your hands allowing the knee of your back leg to drop to the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds before returning to your downward dog and then step your other leg forwards to repeat the stretch.
4. FIGURE 4 STRETCH
Benefits:Stretches glutes and piriformis
How to do it:Lying on your back, bend both knees with both feet planted on the floor. Then cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Link hands behind the knee of the leg with the foot still planted and then lift your foot and pull the knee towards your chest until you feel the stretch in your glute/ outer hip. Hold for 30-60 seconds before switching sides.
Modification:To make the stretch easier, keep your foot on the floor and push the knee of your crossed leg away from you until you feel a stretch in your glute/ outer hip.
5. SUPINE SPINAL TWIST
Benefits:Stretches back and spine
How to do it:Lying on your back with both legs straight, bend one knee resting your foot by the knee of your straight leg. Allow your bent leg to gently drop over the straight leg, making sure both shoulders stay flat on the floor. You can gently encourage your knee closer to the ground with your hand, as long as your shoulders can remain flat on the floor. Hold in this position for 60 seconds and then switch to the other side.
Modification:Knee pulled over does not need to touch the floor for the stretch to work. Do not force your knee to the ground if it cannot reach, stop wherever the stretch is felt while keeping shoulders flat on the floor.
About Megan Palmer
Megan is a British trained Osteopath, now working near Toronto, Canada. She is registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and is a member of the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO).
Megan has a strong sporting background, competing in track and field since she was 10 years old and has been cycling since she was 16. With a sprinting background, shorter routes were originally preferred however she has more recently found a love for longer rides, building up to her first 100km sportive last year.
Megan also has a Post-graduate Diploma in Paediatric Osteopathy, allowing her to bring her two favourite passions together; working with children and treating sports injuries.
As a cyclist, you know how important it is to have a strong aerobic base and powerful legs. You spend hours sweating it out in the saddle and sculpting quads and calves that a Greek god would envy. But do you find that after a while your lower back starts to ache, your shoulders become tense, and your position starts to suffer? That’s where a strong core comes into play. We delve into why a strong core helps with cycling and give you the best core exercises for cyclists.