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Post-ride leg stretches for cyclists

Madison Genesis stretching
Cyclist magazine
31 Jul 2020

The moment your ride ends is when your recovery should start. Get your lower limbs off to a flyer with this five minute warm down

Spend hours pushing the pedals and certain bits of your body are going to end up hurting. Having done most of the graft, this is especially true for your legs. And the really bad news? The older you are, the more you’ll feel the pain.

To alleviate this the pros will often spend several hours after a race on the massage table. Not an option for most amateurs, post-ride stretches will also help – even a quick five-minute routine like this one.

1. Hamstrings

• You’ll need a low, stable surface such as a chair, table or wall to perform this stretch. Once you’ve located something suitable, stand up straight in front of it with your feet hip-width apart. This is the starting position.

• Raise your right leg and place the heel of your right foot onto the top of your stable surface.

• Now, with your toes pointed upwards and the leg fully extended, gently lean forward and push downwards so that you feel a good stretch through your hamstring.

Hold for 30 seconds, gently pushing a little deeper down if you feel the tension in the hamstring loosen off. Never force it, though, and make sure that your movements are smooth instead of jerky throughout.

• Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the stretch with your left leg.

2. Quads

• Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. This is the starting position.

• Raising your right foot behind you, grab your right foot with your right hand, and pull your heel towards your backside while pushing your thigh forward.

• Hold the position for 30 seconds. You should feel a good stretch along the front and side of your quads or thigh. If you struggle to maintain your balance doing this one, lean against a wall for support.

Alternatively, try touching your left earlobe with your left hand as this can also help. And no, we’re not pulling your leg!

• Return to the starting position and repeat the stretch with your left leg.

3. Glutes

• Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is the starting position.

• Take a big step forward with your right leg, keeping the knee directly above the ankle. The knee of your left leg should be resting on the floor. Put your hands on the ground either side of you a bit like a sprinter in the blocks. This will help with balance.

• Breathing in, gently push your torso down and forward until you feel a strong stretch through your right buttock. You may also feel a stretch in your groin and hips. Hold the position for 30 seconds remembering to breathe steadily throughout.

• Return to the starting position and repeat the stretch with your left leg.

4. Hips

• Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is the starting position.

• With your hands on your hips or in the air above you, lunge forward with your right foot until your right leg is bent at a 90° angle and your right thigh is parallel to the floor.

You should be up on the toes of your left foot, meanwhile, with your left knee hovering just above the floor. 

• Push forward with your hips. You should feel a good strong stretch through your hip muscles (sometimes called your hip flexors or, iliopsoas). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

• Return to the starting position and repeat the stretch, but this time with your left leg forward. The trick to getting this one right is to ensure you always take a big enough step forward.

It’s especially important to make sure the knee of your leading leg is always behind the toes during the lunge. If it’s not you’ll put undue weight and pressure on the knee ligaments, which can result in injury.

5. Groin

• Sit down on the floor and lie on your back. This is the starting position.

• Raise your right leg so that your right ankle crosses over and rests on your left knee. Now, reaching down under your left thigh, clasp both hands together and, breathing inwards, pull your left knee towards your chin.

• When you feel a good strong stretch through your groin, hold the position for 30 seconds, remembering to breathe steadily throughout.

• Return to the starting position and repeat the stretch but this time pull your left leg across your right.

For information on how the Wattbike Atom can help you achieve your training goals, visit wattbike.com/gb

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