With the national average of a standard American living room being 330 square feet, one has to question, in the wake of a pandemic, what can be done to stay active in a space roughly 16×20 feet? Wonder no longer, my fellow cyclists. We have compiled a list of the very best stretches you can do to keep yourself healthy and active in the era of social distancing. A steady flow of endorphins can lead to an improved mood, a clear headspace and help prevent muscle loss while parks and gyms are closed.
Though cycling is a wonderful low-impact activity, it’s also extremely repetitive and can lead to a limited range of motion. To combat muscle tightness and pain, it’s important to maintain a consistent stretching routine. For cyclists, that means focusing on the muscle groups that contract during pedaling and potentially limit the mobility of your joints.
Our carefully curated regiment is crafted specifically with cyclists in mind. We will cover parts of the body typically afflicted from cycling and will link to a video for a more in-depth visual of how to properly execute these stretches.
Your glutes produce much-needed power in order to get and keep a bicycle moving at a desired pace. To stretch your quads, lay on your back and bring one knee to your chest and hold tightly. For a more advanced stretch, while also laying on your back, place one ankle on the opposite knee, creating a figure four. Bring the opposite knee with the ankle up to your chest and hold for 30 seconds.
Lower Back and Core
Most of the power needed from your body in order to cycle comes from the core and lower back, meaning these areas are more prone to soreness. Downward Facing Dog releases tension along the entire spine while loosening calf and hamstring muscles. To practice Downward Facing Dog, begin on your hands and knees while raising your hips slowly into the air by straightening your legs and keeping hands on the ground. Focus on keeping your heels on the ground and hips back.
Calves are essential to keeping the pedals moving while on a bike, meaning some cramping and fatigue is expected! In a standing position, try placing one foot against a wall. With the heel on the ground and toes on the wall, put your weight on the opposite foot and lean into the stretch. Tension will be released almost immediately.
Groin, Thighs, and Back
If any of the aforementioned bodily locations are giving you grief, try out this yoga pose called the Camel. The camel opens and stretches the groin, thighs and entire back. Start in a kneeling position on the ground, with your feet under your legs. Slowly rise off of the ground, bringing the thighs and torso upright. Move your neck and back into an arc while feeling the stretch all over your body.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that bring the legs up toward the trunk. Cyclists often have tight hip flexors because the cycling motion never fully allows the thigh to extend. To stretch your hip flexors, get into a lunge-like position with one knee on the ground and the other knee making a 90-degree angle. You want to make sure your front foot is facing forward in front of your body. Maneuver your hands as to press down on your front knee, moving the hips forward to feel the full impact of the stretch.
Though these are just a few simple stretches, keeping muscles and joints limber is important maintenance for our bodies to feel better while we’re dealing with this new stagnant lifestyle that is ‘working from home’.
Looking ahead, check out our blog post covering our favorite trails in South Carolina and learn more about Bike Across South Carolina here!