How to stretch like a pro

Boost performance by stretching out your muscles pre- and post-ride

Jamie Webb, a qualified sports therapist from brightonsportstherapy.co.uk, reveals how a few adaptations to routine stretches can be a performance boost.

1. Glute slapping good

Lunge, squat and give your backside a good slap. Cyclists often overlook glutes, it’s the muscle that pushes the leg backwards and basically generates all the power.

Cyclists complain about tight hamstrings but it’s actually the glutes that tire first and look for support from other muscles, the hamstrings just scream louder.

Before a ride stimulate rather than stretch with a smack or two to get the nerve endings going.

2. Open up the obliques

The obliques, on the side of the trunk, affect nerve tension in the legs too. If you’re sat at a desk all day then cycling in the evening, a ‘half moon’ stretch of the obliques eases tight leg muscles.

Stand with your hands above your head then bend over to the side to feel a stretch along the outside of your body. Hold for a minute on each side.

Adapt the stretches to find the best ones to loosen you up
Adapt the stretches to find the best ones to loosen you up

3. Tweak, tilt and thrust

Tweaking a routine quad stretch will make it more effective.

Pull your foot up behind your backside to feel a stretch in the quads. From that point push the pelvis up and out, like a pelvic thrust. This should increase the stretch through the quadriceps and hip flexors and is ideal for targeting tight quads and knee pain.

4. Strings attached

A slight twist on a routine hamstring stretch will improve the benefits.

Place your foot on something about waist height, lean forwards with your upper body for a hamstring stretch. Now, as you come back up to upright, rotate the foot outwards and lean in again.

You’ll feel the stretch in a slightly different place — it may be tighter or looser. Return to upright, rotate the foot inwards and repeat. Find out which stretch is hitting the spot best and focus on that one.

5. Stick your neck out

Keeping aero but maintaining an eye on the road can put a strain on the neck and shoulders, which has a knock-on affect on your hamstring length and glute strength.

Stand and bow your head and apply pressure with your hand downwards. You should feel a stretch at the back of your neck, spreading lower down your back. Hold for about a minute and repeat a couple of times.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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