by Bill Bejeck
Cycling is usually not thought of as a sport where flexibility is
important. After all, your upper body stays in a relatively fixed
position and your legs never go beyond the range of motion of your
pedals. Flexibility is important for cyclists; maybe not from a
performance standpoint, but how you feel when youre not on your bike or
after that long, hard ride.
I learned this lesson a couple of years ago. It seemed as though
after any ride that was longer than twenty miles, or fairly intense; my
low back and hips would almost " lock up" afterwards. This situation
made no sense, after all, cycling is supposed to be easy on your body.
After trying a few adjustments on the bike with no success, I started a
basic stretching program. After two weeks, my problem significantly
decreased and I noticed that my riding became more pleasurable. So for
this month we will outline a basic stretching program that should be
done everyday and especially after riding.
Hips/Piriformis Stretch- Lie flat on you back, knees bent and
feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle on the top of your left
thigh. Reach forward with both hands and grasp your left thigh. Gently
pull your left thigh towards you until you feel a stretch in your right
hip. Never go beyond mild discomfort. Stretching should be relaxing
experience, not painful. Hold for one minute and repeat with your left
Hamstring Stretch- A long towel or rope will be needed for this
stretch. Again lie flat on your back with both knees bent and your feet
flat on the floor. Place the towel around the heel of your right foot
and then extend your right leg so that it straight on the floor.
Grasping the towel with right hand gently raise your right leg, (making
sure to keep it straight) to the point of mild discomfort. Only go as
far as you can without bending your right knee. Hold for one minute then
repeat with the left leg.
Quadricep Stretch- To perform the quadricep stretch, stand close
to a wall or other stable object (maybe your car) to help with balance.
Stand with your right side towards the wall (or car!). Flex your lower
left leg so that your heel is close to your butt. Reach back with your
left hand and gently pull your left foot up until you feel a stretch in
the front of your left thigh. Again, never go past mild discomfort and
hold the stretch for 1 minute. Use your right hand for balance by
placing it on the wall as needed. Repeat for the right thigh.
So, in about ten minutes you can stretch the major lower body
muscles involved in cycling. Perform these stretches at least once a day
and whenever you feel tight or just want to relax for a few minutes. Be
sure to stretch at the end of every ride. You will recover faster and
feel less stiffness the next day. Until next month, keep riding! n
Bill Bejeck is a full time personal trainer and avid cyclist
with his own company called HealthSport. Bill can be reached at Hsport
at Gateway.net with questions or comments.