Warm Up, Stretch, Cool Down And Stretch Again

On the bike quad stretch

The eight miles I ride to and from the three group rides I go on every week gives me the perfect opportunity to warm up, stretch, cool down and stretch again.

Warming up raises the body temperature slowly, increases blood flow to the muscle and joints getting them ready for activity. It also aids in getting the mind right. The ideal warm up is a slow ride on the small chain ring working your way to a high cadence. It also includes stretching on the bike.

Almost identical to the warm up is the cool down, a slow ride in low gear at a high cadence. It aids recovery, removes the waste product known as lactic acid, while getting rid of muscle soreness and stiffness.  I personally benefit more from the cool down now that I’m older. Stretching after the cool down makes for a quick recovery that helps me to get on with the rest of the day without discomfort. The warm-up, stretch and cool-down is a simple routine that you want to become part of your normal cycling activity. It doesn’t take long, and it will give you that extra edge to perform at your peak level of fitness.

These are stretches you can do on your bike.
(Do not attempt these “on the bike stretches” until you have the balance and riding experience required.)

Stand on the pedals with the cranks vertical, twelve and six.
Stretch the calf on the down leg by lowering the heel past the pedal platform. Hold this position for  about 15 seconds. Rotate the other leg into the down position and repeat.

QUADRICEPS (four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh)
Place your left hand in the middle of the handlebars.
With your right hand, grab your right foot.
Gently pull your leg to touch your butt.
Hold for about 15 seconds, and then repeat the exercise with your left arm and left leg.

HAMSTRINGS (posterior thigh muscles)
Stand on the pedals with the crank horizontal, nine and three.
Keep both legs straight, the front leg will receive the stretch.
Move forwards over the handlebars, tilt your pelvis and lower your shoulders until you feel the    stretch in your hamstring.
Hold for about fifteen seconds, change the position of the pedals and repeat with the other leg.

Here are some stretches you can do off your bike.

Keeping your shoulders level, bend your head to one side.
Hold for a few seconds and then repeat to the other side (do not rotate your head).

Stand or sit up straight and keep your head in a neutral position. In one smooth, evenly-paced motion, lift both of your shoulders toward your ears, then roll your shoulders backward and down as your shoulder blades squeeze together. This exercise helps extend your upper spine and open up your chest. You should feel a gentle stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles. Perform 20 shoulder shrugs before and after your bicycle ride.
(Rotator cuff solutions Naples shoulder specialist Steven Goldberg MD, board certified www.NaplesOrthopedic.com)

Lie down on the ground.
Keep your lower back flat to the ground.
Hold one leg below the knee, and pull it towards your chest.
Hold, and then change legs.

Lift a leg to around waist height by resting it on a bench, fence or table. Keep the leg straight. Bend your body towards the leg. Bend from the waist and keep your back straight. You can bend your supporting leg if necessary.
Hold, and then change legs.

Sit on the ground with, legs bent at the knees.  Put the bottoms of your feet together in front of you.
Keep your back straight.
Gently push your knees down with your elbows.
Hold. Repeat.

Lean against an object such as a tree, wall or partner.
Have one foot slightly forward of the other.
Gently push forward from the hips.
Hold. Repeat.

Stand at arm’s-length before a wall, placing your right palm against the wall for balance. Bend the left leg at the knee and grasp the front of your left ankle. Lift your chest and exhale as you point your knee straight down toward the floor, extending the hip. Switch and repeat on the other side.

There are four recommended butt stretches on the Livestrong site. Who knew there was so much information on stretching the butt, and this just scratches the surface.

Consult with your doctor before performing any physical activity.
Never bounce your stretches.
Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds.
Do moderate stretches. Stretches should never hurt, if they do STOP!  Do the ones that you can do comfortably. Keep in mind  that you are flexing muscles,  joints, tendons  and ligaments.
Avoid all stretching exercises that place stress on the lower back.
Don’t make stretching a contest.

Thanks for reading this and as always your comments are appreciated.

References:  Thinkquest, Naples Orthopedic,and Livestrong,

One thought on “Warm Up, Stretch, Cool Down And Stretch Again”

  1. Love the list of stretches. Super important on long rides- just like getting time out of the saddle. Keeps you from being so sore the next day too 🙂
    Thanks for the tips!

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