5 Essential Lower Body Stretches for Cyclists

How to give your legs, hips, and butt the TLC they deserve after a ride.


After an exhausting, sweat-inducing indoor-cycling workout, you might be tempted to hop off the bike and quickly head for the shower. Don't! Spend a few minutes stretching your hard-working muscles after dialing down your workout, and you can prevent or reduce post-exercise soreness and perhaps even enhance your flexibility. You can start with a series of upper-body stretches while you’re still on the bike, as you continue pedaling gently to let your heart rate come down slowly and avoid dizziness when you get off the bike.

After that, take a few sips of water, then climb off the bike and get ready to stretch the muscles in your lower body. Keep in mind: A slow, sustained stretch is the safest kind; stretch to the point where you feel mild discomfort (but go no further) and avoid bouncing which can lead to injury. Here are the most important lower-body stretches to do after a hardcore ride:

Calves: Stand facing the side of your bike, and place the heel of your right foot on the floor and the ball of your right foot against the bottom of the bike's frame. (Your left foot should be flat on the floor.) Stand tall and gently lean toward the bike until you feel a stretch in your right calf muscles. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch legs.

Quads: Stand next to your bike and hold onto the handlebars with your left hand, for balance. Bend your right knee, grasp the top of your right foot with your right hand, and lift your right heel behind you, pulling it as close to your butt as possible.

As you do this, keep your spine long, tighten your abdominal muscles, and tuck your hips forward slightly. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch legs.

Hamstrings:  Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then move your right foot about 12 to 15 inches forward. Place your right heel on the floor and lift your toes.

Place your left hand on the bike or on your left thigh to help you balance. Bend your left knee, hinge forward at the waist, and reach toward your right toes with your right hand, while keeping your back flat. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Hip flexors: Stand with your right foot about two feet in front of your left, with both feet flat on the floor. Bend your right knee and lean forward, in a mild lunge position, keeping your torso upright and your pelvis facing forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of the left leg and hip. If you want to intensify the stretch, extend your left arm overhead. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Glute stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold onto the bike with your right hand for balance. Bend your knees and place your right ankle across your left thigh (just above your left knee). While keeping your back straight, push your butt and hips back as you ease into a squat (make sure your left knee doesn't extend past your left toes); you should feel the stretch towards the side and back of your right hip and glute area.

Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Now, you’re ready to hit the shower! If you end up with sore muscles, despite taking such precautions, use a foam roller to soothe sore muscles and tendons and improve blood flow to tight tissues.

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