Triathletes have a lot to remember when it comes to training for three sports and sometimes stretching becomes an afterthought. But don’t underestimate the need to spend some quality time stretching post-workout. It’s especially important off the bike as cycling is notorious for causing tight muscles. You’re locked into the same position for several hours and this takes a toll on your flexibility in many muscle groups. Not only will stretching reduce your chance of injury, it will also help you stay feeling great on and off the bike and give you an optimal range of motion. Here are the five most important stretches you can perform off the bike.
Cyclists are prone to getting short, tight hamstrings as a result of peddling. When we peddle, we aren’t fully extending them so without stretching out after a ride, there isn’t a real chance for recovery. There are several effective ways to stretch your hamstrings. The best one to ensure a deep stretch is with a chair or any surface lower than your hip. Stand a couple feet back and prop one heel on the surface. Flex your foot and slowly bend forward, maintaining a flat back. Hold for several seconds and then switch.
If you suffer from lower back or hip pain, it’s probably from tight hip flexors. The hips stay in a fixed position for an entire ride and as a result get increasingly tighter. The easiest stretch for this muscle group is lunges. Perform several slow lunges on each side with proper form. Keep your knees stable and behind the tips of your toes. Be sure to stay in the lunge position for a few seconds.
The quads are a major muscle group in cycling and require stretches after every ride. This one is simple and will produce a good “burn” feeling if you have especially tight quads. Keep your balance with a chair or wall and pick up your foot from behind you while holding your ankle. Bring your heel into glutes as much as possible and be sure to keep your thighs pushed forward. Hold for a little longer than the other stretches. Switch ankles and repeat.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body and are used a lot in cycling. It’s important to stretch them out as pain in a variety of areas can develop as a result of tight glutes. There are two great stretches you should do for the glutes as they require extra attention.
First, lie on your back and bring your right knee across your chest and towards your left shoulder. Stay here for a few seconds and then try to bring your knee in further. Switch legs and repeat.
The second stretch also requires you lie in your back. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and while you hold the back of that knee pull it into your chest. Only go as deep into the stretch as you need to feel a good pull in your glutes and the top of your leg. You can hold each side for a little longer than the first stretches. Perform a few repeats on each side.