Important stretches to help with cycling technique
With events such as the Sydney to Gong cycle on November 3rd and coming into triathlon season, I’m sure many of you are increasing time spent on the bike – either on the road or spinning.
Cycling is a quite repetitive action performed through a limited range of motion where joints are never taken through full range of motion.
“Riding a bike is not something that we evolved to do,” says Mark Simpson, lead strength and conditioning coach at the English Institute of Sport, who works with the British Cycling team. “It’s not a natural movement like running or walking, and is therefore more likely to cause muscular imbalances and postural changes.”
The following are the most important muscle groups to stretch and how they may affect technique, power and speed if tight.
- ITB: If tight the ITB can start to rub against the outside of the knee. This friction causes inflammation and pain with repetitive knee motion.
- Quads: If your quad range is limited, recruitment of muscle fibres is decreased, meaning less power on contraction.
- Hip flexors: The hip flexors pull the leg up and over the top of the pedal stroke. Stretching helps prevent the onset of lower back pain and improve glut muscle activity.
- Gluts: Your glut muscles should generate most power when cycling. If tight, your gluts will not function correctly, causing overuse of other muscle groups and lower back discomfort.
- Hamstrings: Flexible hamstrings allow your pelvis to tilt forwards, meaning you can achieve a more comfortable position on the bike, especially aero position.
- Calfs: Tight calf muscles forces your foot into a more toe down position, which means less power is generated on pedal stroke, compared with a flat foot position.