Make stretching part of your cool-down after your indoor cycling routine.
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Indoor cycling is a fun, fast-paced workout that can leave you in a pool of sweat with your muscles burning with fatigue. While it might be tempting to just hop off your bike and head for the shower, spending a few moments stretching your hard-worked muscles may help prevent muscle soreness and will maintain or even improve your flexibility. As indoor cycling is predominantly a lower-body activity, it makes sense to focus on stretching those muscles.
The muscles on the front and back of your shins work very hard when you are cycling. The tibialis anterior muscles, located on the front of your shins, pull your toes up while the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, located on the back of your shins, push your toes down. To stretch your rear shin or calf muscles, stand up on your pedals so the crank arm is parallel to the floor. Lower your heels down toward the floor as far as possible and hold for 30 seconds. To stretch your front shin muscles, sit down on your bike, point your toes downward and push your ankles forward. Hold for 30 seconds.
Your thigh muscles, the quadriceps on the front and the hamstrings on the rear, are arguably the hardest-working muscles when you cycle. To stretch your quads, stand on the floor next to your bike and bend your outer leg. Pull your foot up to your butt and use your free hand for balance by holding your bike. Point your knee toward the floor and hold this position for 30 seconds, then release. Turn around and repeat the stretch on the opposite leg.
To stretch your hamstrings, take a small step forward and adopt a split stance. Bend your rear knee so your thighs are parallel. Place your hands on your bent knee, hinge forward from your hips and push your butt back. You should feel a stretch in the hamstring of the straight leg. Hold for 30 seconds, slowly stand up and repeat on the opposite side. Do not allow your lower back to round.
Because the muscles around your hips are large and powerful, you may not have felt them working as much as your thighs. However, just because you weren't aware of their contribution doesn't mean they don't need stretching. To stretch your hip flexors located on the front of your hip, take a large step forward, then bend your legs and lower your rear knee to the floor. Place your hands on your front leg for balance. With your torso upright, slide your rear leg back until you feel a stretch in the front of your rear hip. Keep your front shin vertical. Hold for 30 seconds and then change legs.
To stretch the muscles on the back and side of your hips, known as the gluteus muscles, lie on your back with your legs straight. Bend one leg, hold on behind your knee and pull your knee across toward the opposite side of your chest. Keep your back firmly pressed into the floor and your hips square. Hold for 30 seconds and then change sides.
Cycling, especially in an aerodynamic hunched-over position, places a lot of stress on your lower back. Mobilizing this area after cycling can help reduce any lingering lower-back stiffness. Kneel on all fours so your shoulders are over your hands and your hips are over your knees. Lower your head, tilt your pelvis down and forward and raise the center of your back toward the ceiling to form a rounded arch. Hold for a count of five. Next, raise your head, lower your stomach toward the floor and tilt your butt up toward the ceiling. Hold for a count of five. Smoothly alternate between these two positions three to five times.
To round out your post-indoor cycling workout, perform a simple but energizing stretch that involves almost every muscle in your upper body. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides. Inhale and raise your arms out to the side and then above your head; make as big a circle as you can and then really reach for the sky. Lower your arms as you exhale and repeat for three to five breaths.