Has the delightful Spring weather spurred you to get back on your bike? Have you been feeling great post-ride until you have to get up from the coach and your muscles remind you that you keep forgetting to stretch? Is your yoga mat gathering dust? Then you'll enjoy Part Two of Holly's Essential Stretches for Cyclists!
(You have been doing Part One, haven't you? *meaningful look*)
Right. Get ready for pictures of bendy ladies.
Gastrocnemius (calf) stretch
Face a wall, lean on it, think about your life choices, and take a large step backwards. (Physically, of course, not metaphorically.)
Check your feet: you want your toes facing forward. Now press the back heel to the floor, keeping your front foot aligned under the front knee.
Tuck your bottom under, keep your back leg straight, and slowly lean your hips and body towards the wall, keeping the back heel firmly on the floor.
To increase the stretch, here's a test for you: imagine twisting the toes of your back foot around to 90 degrees but don't actually let your toes move. Fun, huh? Now press the ball of the back foot into the floor and hold for 5-6 seconds. Relax, take a deep breath, and restretch.
Hold your final position for 30 seconds.
Sticking with the same leg, repeat steps 1 to 4.
Now repeat on the opposite leg. You'll want to stretch each side 2-3 times.
Begin on all fours and slowly bring one leg in front, placing your foot flat with your knee bent (as above, if you squint at her back hand). Your front foot should be slightly in front of your bent knee.
Support your weight on your arms, making sure that both hands are inside of the front leg. Note: if this position is too intense, use a support such as a block or chair under your hands.
Slowly slide your rear knee backwards in small, smooth movements as far as you can. (A slippery surface, cushion or mat is handy for this.) Make sure to keep your hips level -- don't let them rise as you slide back.
Sink your hip towards the floor, and lift your chest. You'll mainly feel this stretch in the front of the rear leg but it can also appear in the inner thigh, glute and hamstring.
To intensify, draw your rear knee forward without letting it slide forward -- keep your hips down. Hold for 5-6 seconds, release, take a deep breath, and as you breath out slowly slide your rear knee backwards.
Repeat this step 2-3 times then change legs.
If you're feeling good and want to push this stretch further, straighten your rear leg and come up onto your toes, like 'ol blue pants below. Look at you go!
Often neglected, yet so important.
Begin in the same starting position as the hip flexor stretch, except this time hook your arm around your leg (see above). Tuck your bottom under and lift your chest.
Activate your front quadriceps to slide your rear leg backwards until you feel a stretch. Press the front heel into the floor and hold for 5-6 seconds.
Release, take a deep breath, and as you breathe out, use your front quad to slowly slide your rear leg a bit further back.
Repeat this step 2-3 times, then change legs.
Repeat this stretch on each leg 2-3 times.
Now shift your weight onto your hands and do this:
Just kidding. Try this finishing pose instead.
Hi! I'm Holly Hicks, the founder of Fluid Movement and Wellbeing and the Restore+Rebalance Stretch Program. For the past 20 years, I've treated thousands of people in clinical practice as an elite sports and remedial massage therapist, and taught hundreds of in-person stretch classes and workshops as a stretch therapy coach.
Classes, courses and private individual or group programs available, in person and online. Join me on Facebook, sign up for my free newsletter (and even more videos!) and subscribe to Fluid Movement and Wellbeing's YouTube channel. You can also get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.