After a heart-revving indoor cycling ride, it’s tempting to just hop off the machine and get on with your day. You’re pumped up and full of energy, and your muscles feel warm and loose. But, if you don’t take a few minutes to do cycling stretches after each ride, those muscles could tense up and leave you feeling achy as soon as you cool down. Even worse: You could be setting yourself up to get hurt. “It’s very important to stretch post bike ride so that your muscles are able to recover and repair,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kelly Chase. “If we don’t stretch, we increase the risk of injury.”
At the very least, you should be giving a little loosening-up love to your lower body (read: your hamstrings, calves, and quads), since it’s been firing overtime throughout your ride. “These are the main muscles being worked, and any of them can become tight, if not properly stretched.” If you have time, do a few stretches to open up your chest and lower back, as they can become tight from your time hunching over the handlebars.
For effective cycling stretches that you can knock out before you leave the gym—some even before you get off the stationary bike—try this routine from Chase. She recommends holding each stretch for 15 to 45 seconds to receive the most benefit. Focus on your breath while you pause in the position, and try to deepen the stretch a bit with each exhale—you’ll be saying ahh in no time.
Indoor Cycling Stretches
While still seated on the bike, stand up in position two (with your hands gently holding the lower part of the handlebars). Keeping feet on pedals, bring one foot forward, the other back, and press heels down on each pedal. Hold, then repeat on the opposite side.
Stretches chest and abs.
Still standing on bike with feet on the pedals, bring one foot forward, the other back. Push your hips forward to the handlebars and arch back gently. Hold, then repeat on the opposite side.
Stand next to the bike, holding on with one hand for balance. Bend your right knee, kicking your foot up behind you, and hold onto the ankle. Hold, keeping knees in line with each other, then repeat on the opposite side.
Stretches hip flexors.
Standing next to the bike, lunge left leg backward. Raise your arms overhead as you bend knees and lower until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold, then repeat on opposite side.
Stand next to the bike and face it, holding on to the handlebars or saddle. Lift right leg and bend it, resting right ankle on left thigh to create a figure four. Bend left knee and sit back, lower until you feel the stretch in your glutes. Hold, then repeat on the opposite side.
Stretches lower back.
Lie on the floor facedown. Bend right knee and circle right leg over left so that right foot is touching the floor, knee pointing toward the ceiling. Keep your upper body face down as you hold. Repeat on opposite side.