Here's a ten minute (or less) guide to stretching for the cyclist. The same sequence and techniques can be used both pre and post ride.
We know - stretching is boring and largely gets thrown to the bottom of the list of things to do. Having said this, we don't need to remind of you how important it is to stretch. It helps warm up inactive muscle groups, strengthens your core, improves flexibility and most importantly reduces the risk of injury. In reference to the last point, we want to avoid as time forced off the bike is often more painful than the actual injury!
The following tips shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes maximum, so grab yourself a coffee, a glass of water and switch on the news first thing in the morning in order to make it part of your daily regime.
Firstly we'll start with a fancy little yoga move you'll probably have heard of… downward facing dog (with a slight variation). Here's what you do…
Downward Facing Dog
1. Start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. At this point look to your left and try to push your bum around in the same direction, as if they are heading towards each other. Repeat looking right. Now dip the small of your back and look up. Do the opposite and look down, arching your back (feel free to push right up on your knuckles).
2. Curl your toes under your feet so they can grip the carpet. Press against the balls of your feet (toe area). Lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body makes a bridge shape.
3. Press your chest toward your knees, keep your eyes focused on your toes and press your heels toward the floor.
Thats it! Repeat 3 times.
Seated groin stretch (sometimes referred to as The Frog?)
1. Sit down on the floor with your back upright and your legs stretched out in front of you. Before we get onto the groin stretch slowly push your hands along your legs (from thighs) towards your toes. Stretch as far as you can getting your chest nice and low. Hold at your lowest/most stretched point and count to ten.
2. Returning back up to the seated position grab your feet and pull them towards you letting your knees fold outwards, away from you. Pushing the soles of your feet together pull them in towards your groin.
3. Gently grabbing your ankles with your hands, use your elbows to slowly and carefully push down on your tights. Don't bounce during this movement, just push them down to the point of feeling a little stretch on your groin and glutes. You may need to lean forwards a bit to do this.
Repeat 3 times.
Lunges (everyone hates these so don't think you're alone there!)
1. Start in a standing position with your feet together. Clasp your hands together in front of you as if you were using a stick to push something away from you.
2. Up to you which leg you chose but move one leg forward just shy of a metre. Make sure to plant this foot solidly onto the floor for stability, push off on the remaining toes leaning forwards. Keep your hands pointing out level in front of you, back straight and look ahead. Your knee should just about overlap your toe.
3. Hold for a 5 count and swap legs.
Easy! Repeat 3 times.
Two options here:
Option 1 - Place both hands on a solid wall. Bring one foot slightly forward of the other (closer to the wall) and move the other foot further back, 6-8 inches should do it. Bend the knee of the foot closest to the wall keeping the rear leg straight and the foot flat on the floor as much as possible. Now gently lean in towards the wall. DO THIS SLOWLY with NO bouncing. Do not push this too hard. You will feel a slight pull.
Option 2 - In the press-up position, feet close together bend one knee forwards and straighten the other leg. Push into the outreached leg. Again, DO THIS SLOWLY with NO bouncing. Swap legs and repeat
Standard practice - repeat 3 times.
Backwards stretch (sometimes called the Camel Pose)
Before I start, this will take some getting use to so PLEASE take this one slowly and increase the stretch over time!
1. Kneel on the floor with your bum placed over your calves (legs underneath you). Stretch your hands out in front of you as far as they will go and push your shoulders down, facing the floor. Hold this as for 10 seconds. Return back to kneel.
2. Put your hands on the floor either side of your hips. lean your head backwards, pushing your stomach out and away from your back.
3. Slowly walk your hands backwards to lover the back of your head and shoulders towards the carpet. DO NOT PUSH THIS!
4. Hold at a point you feel comfortable with for a count of 10.
5. At some point, which is unlikely to be today or anytime soon you may be able to rest the back of your head on the floor.
Repeat 3 times!
Okay, thats it you're done. Enjoy your ride or rest.