Any type of training has the potential to result in over- and underuse of your tissues. The best way to avoid this is cross-training, and making sure that you incorporate exercises that address both strength and mobility, as well as different directions of movements around your joints. In my last post, I talked about how movement affects your fascia and how adding some self-massage and gentle yoga can be a good idea for cyclists to avoid pain during or after a long bike ride.
Just as there are some non-negotiables when it comes to bike maintenance, it might be a good idea to create a few similar activities for your own body, to make sure that your back, hips, and legs can work perfectly during the entire biking season.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses, as well as issues in our tissues, but hopefully, you’ll find my personal go-to moves useful after a long ride or between riding days.
Therapy Ball Sequence for the Thoracic Spine
- Lie down on the floor or stand next to a wall.
- Place a pair of YTU Originals (toted or un-toted) between your shoulder blades.
- Use your legs to roll up and down between your scapulae, gently massaging your mid-trapezius and rhomboids.
- In a prone position on the floor, clasp your hands behind your back. Press your feet into the floor, support your lumbar spine by engaging your transverse abdominals.
- Retract your scapulae by engaging your rhomboids and middle trapezius.
- Extend your spine so your head, shoulders and upper chest lift from the floor.
- Hold for 5-8 breaths. Repeat 3 times.
Pec Release on Blocks
- Lie down on the floor with a bolster or rolled up blanket under your head and ribcage.
- Externally rotate your arms and place them in a position where you feel a gentle stretch in your chest (pectoralis major & minor) and anterior portion of your shoulder (deltoid).
- Hold for 5 minutes and just breathe.
- Lie on the floor and place one or two YTU-balls under one of your quadriceps.
- Play around with RMM-moves like cross-fiber, contract-relax, pin and stretch, sustained compression and stripping.
- Repeat in different areas of your quad before moving to the other leg.
Apanasana on block
- Lie on the floor and place a block under your sacrum.
- Flex your right hip and hold your right knee towards your chest at the same time as you extend your left hip and leg to stretch your left psoas.
Hold for 1,5-2 minutes and then switch legs.
Leg stretch #1
- Lie on the floor and loop a strap/belt around your right foot.
- Extend your knee until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring or along the back of your leg.
- Try to relax your neck and shoulders and hold the pose for 2 minutes. Switch legs.
There are a lot of other self-massage or yoga moves that can be beneficial for cyclists. The most important thing is that you find a few that help you recover after a long bike ride. Simple but regular maintenance of your fascia will ensure that you keep your tissues hydrated and fluffy. It will also improve “slide and glide” and elasticity, which in turn will help you be more efficient on the bike.
Oh! love this article. As a pretend cyclist, I do worry about the position cycling puts us in. All that shoulder framing tension, and flexion at the hip. As a tighter person, maybe we could even include something for that spinal rotation while looking for cars! Excited to get myself and my husband doing these exercises/stretches regularly. Thank you,
Thanks for the séquence. As a physio i have been working with triathletes for Manu jeans now. Can’t have enough ideas to tune tune them up
Thank you ! I am preparing for a triathlon so I am reading every article and compiling tips and tricks to survive the event 😉
I am a cyclist ad really appreciate your article and sequence. I will be trying it tomorrow and sharing with my husband who is a cyclist as well.
I started cycling regularly a year ago, and noticed that I needed to incorporate stretching afterwards. I’m looking forward to implementing these suggestions, especially the quad stretches.
Great combination of exercises to release the body after riding the bike. Cyclists spend way too long in flexion and the release of back and shoulder muscles is so important. Nice way to use the Yoga Tune Up Balls to mix up normal stretching that cyclists do.
As a yoga teacher and a indoor cycle teacher I appreciate these targeted exercises. I find many students need the upper back release due to gripping the bars to tightly or not having the bars close enough to their body especially for new students. Students tend to either flex or extend their spines too much finding it difficult to find the neutral zone. The roller balls may help them find that balance and awareness.
I own a studio whose signature class is a combination of indoor cycling and yoga. As an outdoor cyclist, as well as an indoor cycling instructor, I agree with you that adding yoga can help with the recovery. I’ve used the some of the same postures (and have begun using the YTU original balls) you indicate in your article and they really do help the body recover.
My partner is a spinning enthusiast and seems to run into frequent upper Trapezius pain. My bet is that she is in a state of elevation in her shoulder blades for most of the time on the bike but claims to be mindful of keeping her shoulders down and away from her ears. Mindful Breathing is another aspect I’m sure she could benefit from which is what you included in this post ride sequence. I will be sure to pass this along and hopefully her frequent trap/neck pain pops up less. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your session. We have a lot of customers who are road bikers. I will definitely be inspired by it.
I was looking for a simple but effective routine for better mobility during bike rides. Thanks!
Great idea to think body maintenance for cyclists. The pose and roll techniques sequence is great.
Really interesting as I am an irregular cyclist during the year ! I think the quad massage can be really helpful ! And I will try therapy ball for the spine ! Thank you !!!
I had never thought of backbends as a great “remedy” for long bike rides aches, but it makes perfect sense! I always focus on stretching/releasing the glutes, quads and hamstrings, but that front line of the body must benefit greatly from expanding after being curled and flexed for so long. Another tool in the box, another great day one the bike lanes 🙂
I was just looking for this. Thanks for the great tips!
I am starting to appreciate more and more how important it is for people who practice different sports to be increasingly aware of where they are most likely to need some extra self-care to keep thier bodies balanced and in optimal shape. Your blog helped me to really see where a cyclist might be causing certain parts of their body to require more maintenance than others, and that means that kayakers and runners would also benefit from understanding the anatomy of their sport a little bit more to help build a balancing routine.
That is a very useful routine that I will be using myself and with my cyclist clients. Thanks for sharing it.
Thank you! This is very well thought out. You definitely hit the major areas cyclist struggle with and have provided inspiration for my final test for my yoga tune up level 1 teacher training. Good luck with your cycling season!
I’ve done a lot of biking and I can especially see how the first two poses you suggest will help lengthen tight areas from bending over my handlebars.
Hi Annelie! Thank you for posting this, as I’m a Cyclist training for my first triathlon race, as well as teaching 5 in door Cycling classes an a weekly basis! It does take a toll on your body & those are simple stretches I can do everyday! Just like you said, we need to maintain our bodies like we do our bikes. Thanks again!
I work with a few cyclists and these all look really great for helping them recover on their days off from cycling. Thanks!
I also love a supine butterfly position with balls under my glutes or rhomboids to under the effects of cycling.
Thank you for sharing these ball sequences. I attend regular spin classes and have always tried to couple these with a yoga class straight afterwards. I will use this routine to really iron out any tight spots, especially in my gluts.
I appreciated the specific body parts that cyclists should target including the hip flexors, quads and upper body protractors. Im curious what other exercises that encourage either anterior tilting in the pelvis and activation of retractors, shoulder depressors in the spine can be included in this sequence.
Thank-you for your post Annelie!
I will be completing my first 100 km bike ride in 5 weeks and as I start to do longer rides, I amazed at what hurts by the end! Thank-you for including the upper back roll out. With cycling the focus in almost entirely on the legs, but I couldn’t believe how sore my upper back got. I will be taking my YTU balls with me on this ride for both before and after and will try to incorporate some of your other moves as well.
Great blog! These moves are all very helpful and not difficult either.