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Stretching for Cyclists
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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 leg.

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.

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