By Davanna Law
You’ve been belting out tunes at the top of your lungs while building endurance during your 45-minute Country Ride. And now you’re ready to collapse into a happy, sweaty pile.
But wait, y’all!
Exercising in the same position, repeating the same motion over and over, can over time create imbalances in your musculature, and limit joint mobility. To keep tightness and pain at a safe distance it’s important to do some post-ride stretches to loosen up and maintain your range of motion. Stretching improves flexibility, which allows for more freedom of movement. It keeps your tissue pliable and your muscular and skeletal system healthy.
Here are three stretches I like to do:
Supine Piriformis Stretch (also called a Figure 4 Stretch)
Stretching the piriformis (a band-like muscle in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint) can help prevent knee and ankle injuries and discomfort. Allowing the external rotation for your hips after a ride feels incredible and provides long-term benefits to keep you moving.
- Start by lying on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent.
- Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, with your right foot flexed. (Your right leg will form a right angle.)
- You can keep your left foot flat on the floor or, for a deeper stretch, grasp the left leg behind the thigh and draw it in toward you, pausing when you feel a stretch in your right glute and hip.
- Hold for at least 5 breaths, working up to 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Because your legs never fully extend during a ride, your hamstrings are in constant contraction, which can lead to lower back pain.
Keep your hammies flexible by stretching them out within 10 to 15 minutes of your ride, with any of these options. You can sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you, and reach toward your toes. Or you can prop a leg up on a kitchen chair or couch, or the handlebars of your MYX bike. Find a height that’s appropriate for your current flexibility level.
Whether you use the floor, the handlebar on your bike or something in between, showing your hamstrings love after riding your bike is really important. Just remember, move within your own limitations, only to where your flexibility allows. And breathe throughout the stretch.
Over-stretching can cause additional problems, so allow the stretches you do post ride to feel good!
Here’s how to stretch your hamstrings using your MYX bike:
- Put one heel on top of the handlebars.
- Grab the inside of your foot with the opposite hand, and gently pull your chest toward your leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other leg
Thoracic Spine Rotation
Riding the bike can cause tightness in your thoracic spine — a.k.a. that midsection of your back between the neck and bottom of the rib cage — as well as rounded shoulders. (You know, the exact same areas that are affected by hours hunched over a computer.)
Tightness in the thoracic spine also affects digestion and breathing because it stops the rib cage being able to move as it should.
Alternating your rides with exercises that encourage extension and rotation of the mid back (like yoga, Pilates, even swimming) can make all the difference. (As a MYX fam member you know the importance of cross-training.) So can doing a simple stretch like this one every day.
- Start on your hands and knees, then shift your weight back toward your heels to stabilize the lower back (lumbar spine).
- Place your left hand behind your head, then look toward the left, opening up your elbow out to the side. You should feel a slight twist of the torso.
- Then draw your elbow in and down toward your naval, then toward the opposite knee. (Here’s what the movement looks like.)
- Repeat 5 to 10 times, then switch to the other side.
Move through your thoracic spine rotation slowly, taking full and complete breathes. It's important for your body to move in all three planes of motion, which means in many different directions. By improving your three-dimensional movement you not only cut your risk of injury, you’re also more likely to achieve your fitness goals.