At the recent Camp de Femme women’s training camp I attended there were a number of great sessions and one of the ones I’d like to share was a talk by coach Jenny Triggs on stretching for female cyclists.
I think that stretching is really important for everyone to include after exercise. Some people advocate stretching both before and after exercise but I prefer to stretch when my muscles are warm so I always make it an after exercise discipline. If I don’t stretch I find that when I get out of bed in the morning I have tight calf muscles and feel a general stiffness in my leg muscles.
Here’s Jenny’s suggested cycling stretches. She recommends (and it’s certainly what I do) that you hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to get a benefit.
Back extension – lie on your stomach and use your arms to gently raise your torso . Some people will make it just to their elbows while others may be more flexible and be able to put the palms of their hands on the floor.
Buttock lower back stretch – lie down on your back and gently pull one leg towards your chest while keeping the other leg straight. Grasp your hands together and hold the knee in this position.
Lower back and side hip stretch – lie on the floor, bend one knee and cross it over your other leg until it’s touching or almost touching the floor.
Glute stretch – lie on the floor and cross one leg over the other, then hold the leg that is furthest away and pull it towards your chest.
Abuctors – Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees outwards. Apply gentle pressure down with your elbows on your knees.
Quadriceps – While standing, bend one leg and hold your foot. Keep your hips forward and square and keep your buttocks tucked under. This one is an essential stretch for cyclists because these muscles do so much work on the bike.
Calf – I do my calf stretches while standing on a step and dropping my heal down. They can also be done by leaning against a wall with your hands.
Hamstrings – Cyclists often end up with tight hamstrings so it’s really important to stretch them. This can done whilst seated on the ground with your legs straight out in front and reaching to your feet. You can also do it standing by putting one leg on a step.