If you’re like many of us, you probably aren’t taking enough time to cool down and stretch properly after your ride, turbo or indoor cycling session. Instead, you head straight into work or a café, followed closely by sitting in a chair at your desk all day. This can lead to a lot of stiffness and a pretty counterproductive time on the bike!
We’d like you to resist that temptation and give your body some TLC at the end of every ride with the following routine, devised by Tierney Maude of Roadside Therapy, your dedicated sports injury therapists for all of Club Peloton’s charity challenges and supported rides.
All you need is some space on the floor and about 20 minutes to carry out this full mobility routine, which will leave your muscles relaxed and ready for the next training session.
Angry Cat / Happy Cat
This is a wonderful stretch for cyclists as it helps to release tension in the entire back and neck post-ride. It’s also perfect if you’ve been driving or desk-bound most of the day.
- Start on your hands and knees on the floor.
- Angry Cat – Tuck your chin into your chest and round your back up toward the ceiling until you feel a nice stretch in your upper, middle and lower back.
- Hold for approximately 10 seconds and then return to the starting position with a flat back, remaining on all fours.
- Happy Cat – Let your back sway by pressing your stomach toward the floor. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling.
- Hold for approximately 10 seconds and return to the starting position in point 3.
- Repeat the full sequence for 2 minutes.
This is a great stretch to follow Angry Cat/ Happy Cat, which provides a gentle stretch for the whole back and shoulders. A good opportunity to focus on your breathing and allow the stretch to fully sink in.
- Sit in a kneeling position. Fold over so that you forward sit on the floor. Straighten your arms in front, so that the hands are shoulder width apart.
- Inch your fingers forwards, then draw your palms into the mat and hips backwards to help lengthen the spine.
- Maintain the position for 1-2 minutes whilst concentrating on your breathing.
- Incorporate a lateral stretch by walking the hands over to the left, holding the stretch for another minute and then over to the right, and also holding for a minute.
Hip Flexor Stretch
It’s easy to neglect the hip flexors, but as they’re the muscles that lift your leg at the top of the pedal stroke, they shouldn’t be forgotten! With neglect they can become shortened and this could cause lower back pain.
- Start in a lunge position, with the back knee on the floor. Use the front leg to support the upper body.
- In this position, add some little circles with the hip, and slowly try to increase the angle and giving a greater stretch to the hip flexors.
- Maintain this position for two minutes, and then swap to the other side.
- To give a greater stretch, place the arm of the side that’s being stretched in the air and side bend over the bent leg.
Hamstring injuries can be a very common issue for cyclists. Stretching the hamstrings is key to help prevent injury and maintain length and elasticity of the tissues.
- Following through from the Hip Flexor stretch, with the leg that is leading, try to straighten the leg up by driving the hips backwards.
- Slowly bring the upper body down towards the leg, whilst continuing to drive the hips backwards.
- A stretch should be felt in the back of the leg. Hold the stretch for two minutes of each side, maintaining good breathing.
The couch stretch may not be as comfortable as the name would suggest, but it’s a great way to open up your hips and reduce tension in your back after a long day spent sitting on your bike or at your desk.
- Find a wall or couch that you can use to stretch against. You may want to use a mat or cushion to place under your kneeling knee for comfort.
- Square your knee into the wall/couch, so that your toes are pointing upwards and your shin is against the wall.
- The opposite leg should be in a high knee position, with the arm on the same side using the leg for support.
- Whilst maintaining this position, the glutes should be engaged. Hold each side for two minutes.
This is a fantastic stretch for cyclists as it helps target many of the muscles that are shortened and tightened whilst riding. This stretch also helps to target a common complaint we see with many cyclists, Piriformis Syndrome, where the piriformis muscle (in your bum) tightens and can irritate the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain down the back of the leg.
- Start on all fours. Bring your right knee up towards your right hand.
- Slide your back leg backwards to create a deeper stretch in your hip and groin.
- From this position, you can remain upright, with chest tall and arm straight or walk your arms forward create a greater stretch.
- Try to relax into the posture, maintaining your breathing hold each side for two minutes.
Downward Facing Dog
An ideal movement to really stretch the calves and hamstrings after a long day in the saddle.
- Begin on all fours. Turn yours toes under and spread your fingers wide.
- Lift your hips up to the ceiling to form a V shape with your body.
- Draw your weight into your heels.
- If the weight in your shoulders and arms feels too intense, bend your knees to shift your weight.
- Hold the stretch for a minute, thinking about your breathing.
Lower Back Stretch
A great stretch to finish off this mobility routine, helping target the lower back and stretch out the hip area. Without practice, this can feel quite an intense stretch, so be sure to practice and make sure this one is part of your ‘go to’ stretches.
- Start by lying on the floor on your back. Bring your right knee up into a bent position.
- With your left hand on your right knee, bring your right knee across the left side of your body.
- The right arm should remain straight out to the right, away from the body, whilst aiming to keep the shoulder and arm flat on the floor.
- Hold the position for one minute, concentrating on your breathing and aiming to slowly increase the stretch.
- Repeat on the other side.
Tips on How to Use a Foam Roller and Trigger Point Ball
The benefits of foam rolling:
Using a foam roller is a way to perform myofascial release around muscles. Myofascial refers to the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and other body parts and allows for movement. This internal webbing can stiffen with repetitive motions such as long distance cycling.
A foam roller is a self-massage tool that can be used pre- and post-ride, to help improve mobility, and to also help aid recovery. By decreasing muscle tension in chronically tight spots, a foam roller and trigger point ball can provide some of the benefits of a sports massage.
Target each area with 3 – 4 rolls upwards and then downwards. Areas to be focussed on are calves, hamstrings, quads, mid and upper back and finally, glutes. A full routine should take approximately 10 minutes.
In this video, we take you through a simple routine on how to use a foam roller post-ride:
The benefits of trigger point ball:
Trigger points are areas located on specific spots on your muscle and the surrounding tissue and are one of the most common sources of referred pain. This means that when the trigger points are pressed or activated, pain is felt somewhere else in the body.
Lacrosse balls or trigger point balls are myofascial tools specifically designed to release these trigger points. By using the ball to apply pressure to these points, the triggers are released, the muscles are eased and the pain alleviated. Depending on the trigger spot, the pressure may be painful at first, but after treatment the muscles should feel noticeably relaxed.
Take a look at this video for a simple post-ride trigger point ball routine:
*As with all of the mobility stretches and movements above, should you experience severe discomfort or pain, please stop and if needed, seek medical help.