Like all repetitive activities, cycling and running promote certain muscle and muscle groups to become strong, and usually in turn, tight. Add to that the fact that we sit for long periods of time behind a desk or a steering wheel, it can wreak havoc on our bodies. As a cyclist, I’ve been doing these stretches and teaching them at the end of my core training classes for years. Every one of us should benefit from doing this series regularly, even if you don’t run or ride a bike.
Do these stretches after your workout, or when your body is warm, like after a hot shower.
This blog is available in a printable PDF version here: stretching-for-cyclists-runners.
Start by lying on your belly. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, feet on the ground. Press up to Yoga Cobra (as far as you are comfortable in your lower back).
Hold, and drop your chin to your chest. Hold. This is the exact opposite of your position on the bike.
Lower your chest to the floor, move your feet hip-width apart, turn your toes under and push up and back into Yoga Downward Dog. 3 things to think about: press the heels down, aim your tail-bone for the sky (rotate the pelvis) and open the shoulders, pressing through the floor.
Drop your left knee to the floor and step the right foot forward in between your hands to a low lunge. Make sure your knee/ankle forms a perpendicular line to the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the floor, and press the top of your foot gently into the floor, generating a force through the hips. Hold.
Bring the right hand to the inside of the right leg and brace your right knee on the side of your right shoulder. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, twist and take your left arm up with you, hand reaching for the sky. Come back to the starting position. Repeat this two more times, taking a deep breath and exhaling each time, and trying to reach further into that rotation. Return to the start position.
From here, bring your right foot across your body in front of you for Yoga Pigeon. Rotate your trunk so that your knee and your belly-button are in line, and lower yourself onto that leg. Your left leg should be stretched out behind you. The more you “load” and “rotate” into the front leg, the deeper the stretch. This specifically stretches the piriformis – the muscle often responsible for sciatic pain.
From this position, roll sideways onto the right hip, swing your left leg in front of you and cross your left leg over the top of your (still crossed) right leg. Turn to face your left leg, hugging it into your body. Hold.
Place the ankle of your left foot on top of your right knee and open the left knee by pushing down gently with the left forearm. Support your body with your right arm on the right side on the floor. This opens up the hip around the capsule.
At this point, roll back onto your belly and repeat everything from the top on your left leg.
Rope / Strap Stretches:
Sitting with both legs outstretched in front of you, hook the rope/strap around the top 1/3 of your feet. (You have more control here than in the middle of your arch). Sit up straight, pull shoulders back and chest forward, pull your toes back and hold the stretch.
Release the left foot from the strap and roll gently onto your back, taking your right leg with you for a hamstring stretch. Remember to relax your head, neck and shoulders. Try to keep both legs straight, pressing your left leg into the floor. Hold.
Pass both ends of the rope into your hand. Put your right hand, palm down, underneath your right glute. As you take your right leg across your body for an IT band stretch, make sure you maintain contact with your hip and right hand.
When you’ve got as far as you’re going to go, dip your big toe to the ground to stretch the lateral lower leg muscles (specifically Fibularis Longus and Brevis)
Return to the hamstring stretch position in the center – see if you can pull your foot a little closer towards your head. Hold again.
Pass both ends of the rope into your right hand. Put your left hand, palm down, underneath your left glute. As you open your leg to the right, make sure your left hip does not roll with you by maintaining pressure on your left hand.
Return one more time to the hamstring stretch position. Hold for one final stretch.
Repeat all of the above on the left leg.
Finish your stretch routine by sitting up with your legs as wide as you can get them, sitting as tall as you can. If you cannot sit with a straight back, elevate your hips off the ground slightly by sitting on something a few inches tall, like a rolled-up blanket or a pad. Take as much time as you need to do this adductor stretch.
Walk your hands over to one side and then to the other, pushing a little further into the stretch when you return to the middle.