Avid cyclists know that a post-ride stretch is necessary. While you might not want to hit up an hour-long Vinyasa class, taking a few moments for a little yoga loosens up tight muscles and can prevent potential injuries that come from overuse. Ready to hop off your bike and roll out your mat? Keep reading to learn the three poses cyclists should practice after every ride.
Downward Dog stretches out tight calves and hamstrings, while simultaneously relieving tension in your neck and shoulders. Breathe deep in this pose, and be sure to direct your gaze towards your belly button once you're inverted:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside-down V shape.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for 10 breaths.
If you hate a pose, it's probably the one you need the most. Many people find Arching Pigeon tough, but it's necessary for cyclists. Pigeon simultaneously works your hip rotators and your hip flexors — both need to be stretched out after sitting for a long ride:
- Sit with your right knee bent and your left leg extended straight behind you. If your hips are flexible, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins to open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
- Place your hands on your hips, and gently arch your back. You should feel a nice stretch in the front of your left hip, but if this variation is painful, then lean forward, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Hold here for 10 breaths and then repeat Pigeon on the left side.
Stretch out tight quads and decompress your abdominal muscles when you hit the floor with Bow Pose. Even if it's tough on your quads, try your best to keep a smile on your face:
- Lie on your belly. Bend your knees and hold onto the outside edge of your right ankle and then your left. Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet.
- Lift your feet up as high as you can, and shift your weight forward so you're resting on your naval instead of on your pubic bone.
- Hold for five deep breaths and then slowly release.