Health: Extend and mend

Stay flexible to get more from your riding

Whether you cycle regularly or sporadically, we all occasionally get stiff and sore. Avoid injury and stay supple by giving your muscles and joints some important apres-ride attention.

Flexibility is the range of mobility around a joint and the muscles that surround it. The three main problem areas for bike riders are:

  • Tight hamstrings due to sitting for long periods on the bike, which can lead to lower back pain
  • Tight quadriceps and hip flexors which can cause pain in the knees or in the hip area
  • Tight chest muscles caused by a constant rounding of the shoulders while riding or just sat at a desk working

Testing for risk of injury

The following tests will help to identify if you are at risk of injury in these areas.

1. Hamstrings test: Lie on your back with one leg straight on the floor and lift the other leg up towards you keeping it as straight as possible. Once the leg on the floor starts to move you’ve reached the limit of hamstring flexibility. You should be able to lift your leg beyond 90 degrees.

2. Quadriceps/hip flexor test: Lie on your front with legs out behind. Grip one ankle with both hands and bend your leg up behind you. You should be able to make your heel touch your bum and pull further to make your knee come off the floor.

3. Chest test: With your arms bent, place your hands on the sides of your lower back, then pull your elbows back behind you. When you stand facing amirror you shouldn’t be able to see your elbows.

Reduce the risk of injury in these areas by doing 10 minutes' easy riding and after you finish each ride, or the following exercises after a warm-up.

Hamstrings stretch

  • Sit on the floor with straight legs in front of you and reach forwards to touch your toes
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds at the point where you start to feel it
  • Relax and repeat x 3

Chest stretch

  • Place your hands either side of an open door way
  • Lean forwards through the door to stretch the chest muscles
  • Hold for 20 seconds then relax and repeat x 3

Quadriceps and hip flexors 

  • Stand on one leg and bend one leg up behind you
  • Push your hips forward keeping your upper torso upright
  • Hold for 20 seconds, then relax and repeat x 3

About Andy Wadsworth

Andy Wadsworth (BA Hons) trains professional and amateur athletes in the gym and online. To get more help with your training, contact Andy via www.wadsworthtraining.com or call 07889 940888.

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