Whether a hard-core professional athlete or a cycling beginner, any fitness or cycling expert will attest to the importance of properly stretching before getting on your bicycle. These pre-workout stretches all target specific areas of the body under the most pressure and work during a cycling routine. Pre-workout stretches prime your joints for safe movement and allow your major muscle groups to gradually warm and stretch. Many types of exercise injuries are easily avoided by taking a few minutes to stretch beforehand.
Foam rolling is a fun and simple stretch that simultaneously targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors. Each of these muscle groups play a huge part in cycling routines. Sit on your foam roller with your hands flat on each side and your legs outstretched. Slowly and steadily rotate your body from side-to-side. This gives each glute a gentle stretch. If your feel a particularly tight spot in your muscles, repeat the process gently until you feel it relax.
Hunching over your cycle places a great deal of strain on your chest muscles. Properly prepare them with some deep muscle stretches beforehand. Use your bike as a stabilizing tool for this stretch. Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width apart and place both hands on your bike frame. Lower your torso until you're chest is parallel to the ground. You should feel your chest tightness begin to release.
Because of the huge responsibility your thighs and calves have during a good cycling work-out, give these muscles extra attention when stretching. Take a large step forward but keep your opposite foot behind you as you lunge forward. Bend your front knee at a 90 degree angle and keep your body aligned. Bring your hands down toward your bent knee and extend your head and neck forward gently. Take several deep breaths and focus on relaxing each muscle.
Before even getting on your bike, practice your legwork with this imaginary "bike ride." Many fitness experts agree that some of the most effective pre-workout stretches are those that imitate the activity you're about to start. Stand in a neutral position and raise one knee upward toward your chest as high as you safely can. Repeat with your opposite leg. As you continue, try to increase the speed until it looks like your "cycling in place." This motion prepares your mind and body for your cycling experience.
Proper shoulder stretches reduce mid-ride chest and arm fatigue and prevent painful stiffness. Get your shoulders and upper arms ready by loosening your biceps and triceps. Stand as straight and raise both arms over your head in a straight line. Reach as high as you can with your fingers outstretched. Your biceps should be parallel to your ears. Hold the stretch and take a deep breath. As you release the breath, slowly bring your arms back down. Repeat this several times; your arms should feel "loose" and relaxed by the time you finish.
By properly stretching before your get on your bike, you're ensuring a safe and enjoyable future ride. Stretching is the perfect way to get your mind and body prepared and motivated for the ride ahead.