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Six stretches for triathletes

Keeping a routine of activation and stretching will improve your durability and recovery

Hours on the bike can have both positive and negative effects. The positive is you get more comfortable pushing power in the time trial position, and hopefully, with consistent practice, you can hold it longer. Unfortunately, with so much time spent in aero, your neck, shoulders and back can ache with discomfort. These aches not only affect your time in training but also during normal day-to-day activities.

Between holding an aero position and repeated strokes in the pool, your neck and shoulders can be a common site of discomfort.

Related: Activation drills for triathletes

Here are seven stretches you can do to keep your neck, shoulders and back loose:

Wall Angels

Sit on the floor with your back pressed to the wall. Bring your elbows up to shoulder height, pressing your arms and wrists to the wall in a surrender position. Slowly push your fingertips straight up the wall until you feel a stretch, then release. Keep your lower back, arms, shoulders and head pushed against the wall while you do this stretch. Do sets of 10 repetitions.

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Lie on your side with your top leg bent at 90 degrees with your knee on the floor and your bottom leg straight. Have your bottom arm straight at shoulder height and start with your top arm straight on top of it, palms together. Draw an arc above your head, with your elbow slightly bent, feeling a stretch along your thoracic spine and pectoral muscles.

Do sets of ten repetitions per side.

Dynamic Child’s Pose

Start seated with the knees about shoulder-width apart and toes pointed straight back. Put the hands on the floor, shoulder width apart, and, keeping your shoulders held down and back, stretch the butt back toward the floor. Stop when there is any rounding of the lower back. The spine should remain flat and the objective is to extend at the hip joint without collapsing. Repeat ten times.

T-Spine Myofascial Release

Using two massage balls tied together in a bag, start by lying on the balls at your lower ribs. The balls should be on either side of your spine, rather than pressing into the spine. Relax and allow the muscles to release at that vertebra for five breaths, then move one vertebra higher. Repeat until you get to the top of your shoulders. Stop before you reach your neck.

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Shoulder Opener

Set up near a doorframe or wall. By rotating your hips, gradually allow your straight arm to open up in the horizontal plane. You should feel the stretch gently across the front of your shoulder and in your pecs. Make sure to tread gently, as most people have much tighter joints than they realize.

Upward Dog

This is a great one for the front, and it helps to counteract the negatives of cycling-induced posture. A proper upward dog is done with the legs engaged and knees lifted from the ground, as well as shoulders away from the ears. I would hold this for around 15-20 seconds.

Other stretches can be found on the Canada Cycling Magazine and Triathlon Canada Magazine website.