Cyclists should know how to stretch to reap the most benefit from their stretching routine. Stretching can help prevent muscle soreness, increase flexibility over time by lengthening muscles and can give cyclists an increased range of motion, to help increase overall strength. Improper stretching and lack of stretching leads to chronically short, tight muscles and can reduce overall range of motion and lead to physical problems. Here are some good simple stretches for cyclists.
The quadriceps are the large muscle group that runs along the top of the thigh. These muscles are especially important to cyclists, and if they're allowed to become short and tight, lower back pain and postural problems could occur.
Stand on one foot, leaning against a wall or other stationary object if necessary. Lift the other foot until it touches the buttocks, making sure to keep the bent knee pointing straight at the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Hamstrings, or the muscles on the back of the thigh, are also very important to cyclists, and can cause lower back pain and postural problems if they're not stretched regularly.
Stand upright and place one foot on the ground behind you, so that you're facing forward but your legs form a small triangle. Both feet should remain firmly on the ground and your hips should remain squared to the front.
Bend slowly at the waist, keeping the spine straight. Stop when you feel an intense stretch in the front hamstring. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
Calves are also important to cyclists. Tight, short calves can cause shin splints and tendonitis in the Achilles tendon.
Stretch the calves by leaning against a wall. Press against the wall with your palms, or fold your arms and lean on your forearms.
Extend one leg behind you, so that the toes face straight forward. Keep the heel of that foot pressed firmly into the ground.
Move your hips slowly and gently toward the wall until you feel an intense stretch in the rear calf. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
Squats work on the muscles of the lower back and groin. You'll want to hold onto something to help you keep your balance while you do squats.
Squat down, keeping your heels on the ground and pressing your buttocks as close to the ground as you can. Don't force it; you don't want to hurt yourself.
Hold the squatting position for 30 seconds and then release.
Head drops stretch the muscles of the shoulders and upper back, which can become quite tired and stressed during cycling.
Stand upright, and take several deep breaths. Relax your shoulders, arms and back. Ensure that your spine is straight and that you're exercising good posture.
Allow your head to drop forward and breathe deeply into your upper back. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and release.