Final Stretch!

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This article appears in the May issue of Iowa Momentum, a magazine for active lifestyles. Photos courtesy of Dylan Huey of Huey Photography.

Grabbing your bike and finding a trail to explore is a great way to boost cardiovascular endurance, reduce stress, and spend time in the great outdoors. An important tip to remember is that when your ride is complete your workout isn’t. Making sure you set aside time to stretch after riding is key to maintaining flexibility and good posture both on and off the bike.

Because positioning on a bike is rather unnatural, repetitive, and constricted, many cyclists end up with tightness in the hips, legs, and low back. To help prevent and/or alleviate this tightness, here are four stretches you can start doing today! If you don’t feel comfortable stretching with your bike, you can do all of these from a standing position with a railing close by. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and make sure to stretch both sides of the body.

Even on days when you don’t ride, it is good to go through these stretches or find a yoga class in the community. Flexibility naturally reduces with age so today is the day to start a proper stretching routine!

Quad Stretch – Stand against your bike and reach for left ankle with left hand. Gently pull foot towards your glute. Think about keeping your knees in alignment and chest lifted.IMG_7674

Glute and Hip Stretch – Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Gently lift and bend leg, bringing right knee to seat and the right foot to the top tube of bike. Gently lean into the stretch while keeping chest lifted.IMG_7659

Hamstring Stretch – Lift one leg to the bike, resting foot on top tube. Extend leg and hinge forward from hips, reaching towards the ankle or foot.IMG_7662

Calf Stretch – Step off bike with left leg while keeping right foot on pedal. Gently draw right heel towards the ground until you can feel the stretch in your calf.IMG_7645

May is National Bike Month so whether you’re riding as a means to get from one place to another (my preferred riding style) or selecting it as your workout, get your bike out and mix up your fitness routine a bit!