To stretch or not to stretch? This is the question.
The fact is that the more flexible you are, the more aero you can get—which helps you go faster with less effort. Regular stretching also quiets aches and strains that can limit your mileage, speeds the replenishment of muscle-glycogen stores, and helps counteract the effects of aging, which causes muscles to lose elasticity.
Poor ﬂexibility — and its consequences — don’t just give you bad posture and hike up your injury risk, but also your cycling performance.
But when is the perfect time to stretch?
Many of us would think that this is the step that has to be done before a ride. Well, that’s not true!
Before a ride is not the best time to stretch, because your muscles are cold, and you make them more susceptible to injury, plus static stretching (in which you hold a ﬁxed position) can reduce power output for up to an hour.
Instead, take time for it post-ride (or later, after a hot shower), when your muscles are warm.
Take 10 to 15 minutes four days a week to do these flexibility exercises (after riding or just being home) and you will soon see the results. It’s also recommended to be consequent with 10-15 minutes four days a week than an hour once a week.
Here we have 5 exercises that will improve your flexility for a better ride!
1. Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
foto credit: YogaJournal
Deservedly one of yoga's most widely recognized yoga poses, Adho Mukha Svanasana, offer the ultimate all-over, rejuvenating stretch. Deeply stretches the back, opens the chest, and builds upper body strength.
This posture stimulates the brain and nervous system, improving memory, concentration, hearing and eyesight. Avoid this pose if you had recent or chronic injury to the back, hips, arms or shoulders or unmediated high blood pressure.
We recommend you have to watch a YouTube yoga trainer, to be absolutely sure you do it right. When you first try Down Dog, you may feel tight in areas you never knew existed.
2. Expanded leg pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
foto credit: beYogi
Therapeutic applications for this stretching exercise are so many, that you could not believe.
- Boost confidence and reduces depression
- Soothes the brain and the nervous system
- Energizes the heart and lungs
- Reduces blood pressure
- Relieve stress-related headaches, migraine and fatigue
- Tones the abdominal organs
- Relieves lower backache
- Relieves stomachache by neutralizing acidity
- Strengthen the knee joint and make the hip join supple
- Regulates menstrual flow
3. Half-pigeon pose
foto credit: Healthy Treatments
This pose is perfect for tight hips because it stretches the hip rotators (the buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis).
It also requires substantial external rotation in the front leg and substantial internal rotation in the back leg. If you practice it consistently, you'll notice an incredible suppleness throughout your practice.
4. Revolved belly pose (Athara Parivartanasana)
Foto Credit:Health Goes Female
Stretch both arms outwards along the ﬂoor to open the space between the shoulder blades then, as the lower back gradually releases, straighten the legs out slowly, aiming to eventually have your toes touch the hand nearest them.
For stiff backs particularly this is a great stretch. It releases tension in the spinal column, hips and shoulders and relieves discomfort in the lumbar spine. Lying on your back with your knees bent, bring them into your chest. Inhale and, with the next exhalation, roll your knees to the right side and rest them on a pillow.
5. Recline hands-to-toes pose
Foto Credit: Yogkala
This gentle hamstring stretch helps to open the hips and reduce low back pain. It also stretches the groins and calves, while strengthening the knees. It can be therapeutic for sciatica, flat feet, high blood pressure, and infertility.
This pose also stimulates the prostate gland and improves digestion.
If you run, bike, swim, play sports, lift weights, or spend a lot of time sitting down, you might be familiar with tight hamstrings. These rear thigh muscles can get stiff from both overuse and underused, but practicing yoga regularly helps to increase the flexibility of these muscles. Incorporating this pose into your yoga practice or post-workout stretching routine will create a greater range of motion in your thighs, which will enhance all of your activities.
Now, boys and girls, we chosen the most challenging and efficient poses in stretching and we though of the most important criteria you might have: back pain, relaxation, muscle flexibility etc. Now, you have to watch some good yoga trainers on YouTube doing this poses and try replicate them as correctly as you can, because the efficiency depends strictly on the posture correctness.
There are lots of great yoga trainers that will train you in less than 2’ for each posture.
See you next time, until then you’ll already have a feline flexility!