Cycling can be a great cardio workout that’s both low-impact and accessible to people of all levels. However, according to Aaptiv Trainer John Thornhill, the sport doesn’t allow for full range of motion. “It’s imperative to stretch the major muscle groups used when cycling, including the quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, calves and hamstrings,” he says. “Increasing your mobility will help you increase your range of motion and help prevent injury.
Below, he lists some of his favorite cycling stretches and details how to do them.
Standing Calf Stretch
Start by standing tall with one foot flat on the ground, and the other foot with your heel on the ground, toes in the air. Slowly hinge at your hips and sweep your arms toward your calf, keeping your back as straight as possible. Feel the release in your calf for a second, then rise up. Repeat five times, then switch feet.
This stretch is essential for anyone looking to relieve tension in their hip flexors. Because this is a static stretch, be sure your body is warmed up before doing it. Also, make sure you’re using a yoga mat or laying on a comfortable surface. Start in a table top position, wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Slide your right knee forward between your hands. Then, extend your left leg back behind you, keeping your hips square. Slowly lower your chest down toward the ground, relaxing your upper body. Hold for 30 seconds or until you feel a good stretch in your hips, then release and repeat on the other leg.
Downward Facing Dog
Start in a plank position. Raise your hips up so your body forms an upside down V. Lengthen your spine and send your heels to the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then return to your plank. This will help relieve tension in your back and calves. Move through this series eight to 10 times.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start with your right knee on soft ground and your left foot in front of you, planted on the ground and bent at 90 degrees. Lean forward for a second or two, opening up your right hip flexor, then return to starting position. Do this three times, then switch to other side.
Cycling is a quadriceps-dominant activity, so it’s imperative that we stretch our quads out before and after a workout. Stand on your right foot and bring your left foot back to your left hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then bring your foot back to the ground. Do this three times, then switch sides.
Figure Four Stretch
Stand on your right leg and bend your left leg, bringing your left ankle to rest above your right knee. Hold your balance and carefully bend your standing knee and lower down as if you were sitting in a chair. This will stretch out your left glute. Hold for 10 seconds, then reset back to standing position. Do this three times, then switch to the other leg.
You can also do this stretch by laying with your back on the ground, and bringing the ankle of one leg to rest above the knee of the other leg. From here, pull both legs in towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in your hips and your glutes.
For more stretching classes or yoga workouts that will increase your mobility, check out Aaptiv. Let our expert trainers guide you through each session.