Last time I commented on the importance of a good bike set up and a flexible musculoskeletal system.I never see weekend cyclists stretching before and after their ride, and indeed have been the source of some ridicule when doing pre and post ride stretches.
Here are my favourites –
Before a ride, I like to get my cervical spine warmed up. This is a simple set of manoeuvers, that start with Chin tilt – bring the chin down to the breast bone – Chin Extension – look up as far as you can, Chin Rotation – look over each shoulder sequentially, and finally head tilt – bringing the ear to the shoulder again on both sides sequentially.
Once the C-Spine is ready, I warm up the shoulders with some Shoulder Rolls, and some Arm Rotations – like dry swimming.
Warming up the thoracic spine and lumbar spine can some with a slow Roll Down to the toes (or in my case the shin) being careful to forward flex from the lower back and the hips. This has the advantage of stretching the hamstrings and the calf muscles.
Finally stretching the Quadriceps by pulling on the ankle to gently bring the knee in to full flexion.
This pre-ride ritual would take me less than 10 minutes.
When riding, I like to ensure that my elbows have a slight flex – as this brings my thoracic curve down allowing my C spine to relax – there is nothing worse than neck ache on a long ride. Soft elbows also reduces the transference of shock from pot holes and rough rides.
I enjoy a cervical spine stretch now and again and deliberately look around to check on riders and cars behind enjoying the rotation forces on my neck, thoracic and lumbar spines.
After the ride I modify some Pilates exercise that are well shown on You Tube. The ‘dart’ helps stretch the spine and counteracts the flexed position that you ride in. This starts with a face down prone position.
Secondly I will do a gluteal and ITB stretch. Lying face up but on the ground again, I will bring the knee across my body pulling and stretching the gluteals.
Thirdly, a lunge on both sides to stretch the quads and the hamstrings on either side. I do this in a kneeling position to reduce the load on the patellofemoral joint,
Finally a roll down, starting from the chin tilt, and forward flexing to stretch the hams and the calf muscles. Feeling the stretch is enjoyable.
Nothing is forced, and yet it helps me to prepare for the next ride. Although I have often found sports massage a painful experience, in the right hands (Ele King at Prime Health in Weybridge) recovery is enhanced ready for the next big ride. Added to that she has great banter!