Monument Valley, Utah
Adding a stretching regiment on a long ride (60miles+), was a game-changer for me. 🤔🧠🤯🤯
Honestly, I think I stumbled into doing this because I was bored on the bike and I wanted something to do, 😂🤣 but it surprisingly works! 🤩👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
Matter of fact, STRETCHING while riding has been my SECRET WEAPON!! 💪🏼💪🏼💥
I’m not the fastest rider, but I can keep going like the energizer bunny 🐰🔋🔋
When I attempted my first Everesting Challenge at 29,029ft elevation gain in under 30 hours this past summer, I was shocked at how strong I felt at the end of the ride given the intensity of the suffer-fest. 🤪💪🏼🤪
I was conscious about my eating schedule even more so with my stretching during the descent portions of the hill repeats.
Don’t get me wrong, there was absolutely immense fatigue as the hours went by, but my neck, shoulders, butt, thighs, and feet, overall, felt great.
Stretching on a bike saved me countless of times over how many centuries, double centuries, and yes triple centuries I completed.
‼️WARNING‼️ Before you start stretching while riding, be mindful of your environment and balance on the bike. Use common sense and stretch only when there are fewer distractions like passing cars, crossing pedestrians, narrow roads with no shoulders, even steep, and curving descents.
Upper Trap Stretch
BENEFITS: Remember, while riding, your neck and shoulders are in a bent-over position. Maintaining this position for any length of time will eventually lead to muscle fatigue. This stretch will loosen your muscles and provide a position change giving your body temporary rest.
The Stretch: Sit up as straight as you can on the bike with your head in a neutral position. Gently roll your head in a half-circular motion stopping to your right shoulder, then to your left. You may naturally want to close your eyes when you do this… REMEMBER, you are still riding! 🤪🤪🤪
If you are able to keep your bike balanced with your left hand, you can place your right hand on the left side of your head, and apply gentle downward pressure. You can even isolate your stretch higher in the neck by slightly rotating your chin towards your right shoulder. Then, repeat with the opposite side. You are gonna love this stretch!
Reps: Hold for 5 seconds, and repeat twice on each side.
Forward & Backward Leg Swings
BENEFITS: Going thru a constant cycling motion completely tightens your hip flexors. This dynamic stretch keeps your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and even your calves flexible.
The Stretch: Since you are not able to pedal on this stretch, it’s best done if you are on a slow descent on a wide road. If you can take the lane, take it for this stretch. Start off by sitting up straight once again on your bike. Unclip your right shoe, then keep your right leg straight while swinging front to back as high as you can. Depending on how tight your hip flexors are, it’s ok if you have to bend forward while swinging. Then, repeat the other side.
REMEMBER: It’s important to keep your bike stable and balanced when doing this stretch. Drivers and Pedestrians may also look at you strangely. 🤪🤪🤪Don’t mind them. You are doing your body good!
Reps: Swing min 3-5x for each side.
Half Butterfly Wing
BENEFITS: This stretch is a nice compliment to the upper trap stretch above and helps to strengthen the rhomboid (back) and pectoral (chest) muscles.
The Stretch: Sit up straight with left hand to balance and stabilize bike on the road. Touch your right fingertips to your right shoulder with your right elbow pointed out to the side. As you keep your right fingers in place, slowly move your elbow forward until you slouch stretching your rhomboid muscles (back). Then slowly move your elbows back as far as possible stretching your pectoral muscles (front). Repeat the same move on the other side.
Don’t forget to breathe in and exhale.
Reps: Hold forward 3 seconds, back 3 seconds and repeat twice on each side.
Single Arm Circles
BENEFITS: This will help get your blood moving after being in one position for hours improving shoulder mobility, and stretching the chest and arm muscles.
The Stretch: As you sit up straight with your left hand to balance bike, circle your right arm forward making controlled big circles until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Reverse the direction after 2 circles, then repeat on the other side.
Reps: 2 large controlled circles clockwise, then 2 large controlled circles counter-clockwise on each side.
BENEFITS: If you are experiencing pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands, wrists, or fingers, then you are compressing the ulnar nerve, which runs through the wrist and controls motor function in the hand. Proper bike fit and hand positioning can take the pressure off that nerve. However, stretching your wrist and strengthening your lower arms can also increase your tolerance for long hours on the bar.
The Stretch: As your left hand balances the bike, use your right thigh to bend your wrist pointing towards the ground. Bend until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm.
You can flip your wrist and bend that way as well. I also love spending a few seconds moving my fingers as I open and close my fists.
Reps: Hold for at least 10 seconds, repeat twice on each side.
Heel Raises & Ankle Circles
BENEFITS: Every useful watt of power you gain on cycling goes from your bike through the bottom of your feet. This stretch combo will help get the blood flow going, restabilize and refresh your heel after constant pounding on the pedal as well as flex and loosen the ankle joints.
The Stretch: Stand on your bike, straighten the right leg, while your left leg is bent. Stretch your right heel down from the pedal for a good 5 seconds. Press up with the same foot for another 5 seconds. After you complete your heel raise reps, sit back down on the bike, unclip your right cleat, and point your toes to the ground. Then, slowly start to rotate the foot in a full circle. Don’t move your leg when rotating your foot so your ankle gets its full benefits. As you do this, feel the muscles of your calf and thigh pulling hard in your leg. Repeat with the other side.
Reps: Heel down 5 seconds, press up 5 seconds. Repeat 3x, then switch sides. Make 5 full circles, then reverse the direction and do it again 5x.
Standing Butt Cheek Pressure
BENEFITS: This is probably the best stretch I’ve ever done on a bike. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Repetitive activity such as cycling can cause problems in the piriformis muscle, located deep behind your glutes. This muscle helps the hip rotate, turning the leg and foot outward. Applying pressure can be an effective way to relieve any discomfort on a long ride.
The Stretch: Stand up on your bike and lean more to your left while you keep the bike straight and stable. Use the tip of your bike seat to apply pressure to your left butt cheek for 5 seconds. This is gonna feel real good, trust me! 🤪🤩🤪🤩Switch and lean over to your right, applying pressure to your right butt cheek for another 5 seconds.
Reps: 2x 5 seconds on each side
Phew! I implement these stretches after mile 60, then every 10 miles thereafter, unless I already feel the tightness or lingering pain. Use these stretches as soon as you can on your next long ride. Trust me. Your body will thank you! It will make a huge difference in your endurance cycling journey! More refreshed, more powerful! 😍💪🏼😍