Whether you’re a road biker or mountain biker, a commute-to-work biker or fun-with-the-family cyclist, stretching after a ride is crucial to preventing and correcting injuries, as well as increasing speed, strength and endurance.
Before you slowly back away from the prospect of having to add a lengthy regime of stretches to your ride time, listen up: there are only three. That’s right. Just three comprehensive and powerful yoga stretches that will enhance your life on and off the saddle.
Add this simple and effective yoga routine to your healthy lifestyle, and you’re off to the races. Or the office. Or the park. Or wherever your bike takes you.
By strengthening and opening the lower back and stretching out your hamstrings, this quintessential yoga pose will help alleviate stress after the ride, and power up your performance when you’re enroute.
- Begin in plank pose (i.e top of a push up position). Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders.
- Next, lift the hips back and up, simultaneously dropping your heels toward the floor. You should be in upside down V.
- Now you’re going want to walk your hands toward your feet – just enough so you can lower your heels a little further toward the floor.
- Spread your fingers apart and press through the heels of your hands in order to lift your hips even higher.
- Make sure your neck is relaxed.
- Breathe deeply and evenly for 60 seconds.
This pose is fantastic for opening your hips, which are working in a restricted range of motion while cycling (i.e. flexing more fully than extending). It also stretches the thigh, ankle, groin, and your glutes, so it’s a solid choice to hit a variety of hard working (and tight!) muscles.
- Begin in on your hands and knees.
- Bring your right knee forward, placing it behind your right wrist – or in that general vicinity.
- Position your right ankle in front of your left hip – wherever is comfortable.
- Move your left leg back, straightening your knee. Point your toes as you move and make sure your leg is directly behind your body. The heel should be pointing up to the sky.
- At this point, check in to ensure your hips are square. You shouldn’t be tilting off to the side. If you are, place a yoga block, a rolled up towel or a pillow under your right butt-cheek to even you out.
- Inhale and lift your torso, coming onto your fingertips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and down, opening the chest.
- Tuck your navel in and draw your tailbone toward the floor.
- Exhale and walk your hands forward, bringing your chest toward the floor. Rest your head on your folded arms, or keep your arms straight and rest your forehead on the floor. Keep your neck relaxed.
- Move back to hands and knees and repeat, drawing your left knee forward.
Here’s a fluid movement between two poses that will release a ton of tension in your back, shoulders, hips and core.
- Begin on your hands and knees, breathing evenly and deeply through your nose.
- As you inhale, tip your head and pelvis toward one another, opening your chest and arching your spine so that it is concave. This is cow.
- Exhale and reverse, moving your spine up (like a frightened cat) and rounding out your shoulders.
- Alternate between cow and cat for 60 seconds.
It’ll take you longer to find a quality pair of men’s gym shorts or new set of toe clips than it will to do these stretches. Even if you just do the poses one time each after a ride, you’ll notice a difference. Not only will you feel better next time you saddle up, but you won’t be crippled (or as crippled) after a tough run.