4 Good Cycling Stretches

One of our Loving the Bike friends, @myrnacgmibus recently suggested that we do a post on good cycling stretches.  She told me that she doesn’t really know when to stretch or what stretches to do. So this post is for you, Myrna and I hope there are others out there that can benefit from this as well.

When to Stretch

There are a couple methodologies when it comes to stretching….the pre-workout and post-workout stretch.  There are differing opinions, but the way I look at it is this:

Regular tightness that comes from cycling: If you’re out there pumping hard with your legs, odds are your leg muscles are going to be tight.  For this type of tightness I suggest doing post-workout stretches, meaning that you find time later in the day to stretch out the legs.

Pains, aches, and soreness that flare up during cycling: If you have nagging injuries that often tighten up during a ride and cause what I call “Bad Pain”, then these muscles should be stretched pre-workout.  Give them a good stretch prior to going out on your ride so that the muscles can relax a little.

What Stretches to Perform

I am not going to get into the pre-workout stretches used to help ease your pain and soreness, because these will be dependent on what type of “bad pain” you experience and where it is located.  If you’d like to contact me about it, I would be more than happy to give you my recommendation.

But I am going to give you 4 good stretches to be performed post-workout.  There are countless stretches that can be performed, but these are the ones that I feel target common areas affected by cycling.  Each of these stretches focuses on an area of the legs, but inadvertently will stretch out your lower back as well.

How Long to Hold a Stretch?

When I worked as a personal trainer, I always got asked how long to hold a stretch.  If you research it, you’ll get varying answers…but my response is that it generally takes 16 seconds for a muscle to relax.  So hold the stretch for a very minimum of 16 seconds, up to as long as you like.  There really is no maximum cut off time.

Cycling Stretch #1 – Quad Stretch

The quads are definitely the most worked part of a cyclist’s body.  The method I suggest for this stretch shouldn’t be done if you have knee problems or if you are very un-flexible.  If this is the case, go with the standing quad stretch instead.

Cycling Stretch #2 – Glute Stretch

A cyclist’s glutes are also sure to tighten, especially if you’re doing climbs.  Tight glutes also often mean a tight lower back.

Cycling Stretch #3 – Easy Side Bend

A nice filler stretch that covers the secondary areas.

Cycling Stretch #4 – Hamstring Stretch

Another good one to balance out the leg stretches.  Tight hamstrings can lead to a tight lower back…so it should help out with that as well.

DISCLAIMER: Although I am a certified personal trainer, I’m not ready to be held responsible for any complications that come from using the stretches I recommend.  I do feel they are safe, but you never know what can happen so use these tips at your own risk.  Additionally, if you have any injuries or physical limitations that may be affected by doing these stretches, please check it out and get clearance before trying any of these out.  Happy Stretching.

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  1. could you please show me some stretches to relief lower back tenderness? almost after every ride, it becomes tensed. ive already made sure that it is not affected by my current position on my bike. also the hamstring on the inner side the back of the knee, gets real tensed very often too. its not my seat height problem, because its tried lowering it. and its still there. i would really appreciate it if you would help me out here.  here is my email. please reply to me. shaneriedel@hotmail.com
    Shane

  2. Real good videos Darryl. Stretching is important before and after. I find if it’s warm out I don’t seem to stretch as much.

  3. These look good for times when you’re returning home from cycling, but possibly not so practical when you’ve just finished a long ride to somewhere other than home. I can’t really see doing the stretches where you have to lie on your back on a city sidewalk, or in the aisles of Ikea or something. :-)

    It’s not hard to figure out how to modify the quad and hamstring stretches for a standing position – you can pull your leg up behind you while standing for the former, and bend down to touch the ground for the latter. But would you have any suggestions on how to modify the other two, or substitute some other form of stretch for those muscles, if you’re somewhere where getting down on the ground isn’t really practical?

  4. You are so spot on. I’ve been off the bike for a few days and I think it’s a result of a few things including not stretching enough – thanks for the tips. The videos are especially helpful.

  5. Great post. I’m starting to wonder if my lower back problem is combination of glutes and hamstrings. Before my last back episode I was doing a lot of hill work, but I was neglecting the stretches.

    • It could very well be that your lower back is actually being caused by your hamstrings and glutes. A lot of people with lower back issues feel the tension there and think that must be the problem….but your hamstring and glutes are tied in very closely. I”m not sure exactly what is going on with your back, but I have seen a lot of times where as soon as a person stretches the hamstrings and glutes for a while, the back gets better. I have a bunch of other great remedies for your back if this doesn’t work. I’ve been involved with medical fitness for a while and seen a lot, so I’d love to help out if I can.

  6. These are the four stretches I lead with when I do my stretching. I have also learned to stretch Before Bed and Just after getting up. When I go to the gym I will stretch afterward but never just before. Great article. Keep up the great work!

  7. Whew, just did the stretches. I have work to do! I’m not very flexible at all – never have been.
    I can’t do the first one at all but can do the modified version well enough. The Glute stretch feels good and is probably my favorite. I like the side bend and do this in yoga and belly dance classes. Never cared for stretch #4 but will learn to like it :)

    Thanks for posting these. I’ve never known what to do regarding stretching.