Cycling Stretches and Flexibility Exercises

Training & Health

09/23/2008| 0 comments
by Brad Walker

Cycling Stretches and Flexibility Exercises

Improve your performance and reduce the risk of future injuries.

Road cycling is generally longer than track races and the natural lay of the land provides for hills and valleys to challenge the rider. Road races are generally much smoother than mountain biking or trail racing and therefore the equipment is much different. A road bike would not stand up to the constant pounding of a trail race, but the road bike is designed for more speed and tighter turning and balance. 

Anatomy involved

Bicycle road races require a great deal of both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. A good combination of speed, strength, and endurance work, along with flexibility training, is essential for cycling success. 

The major muscles involved in road cycling include:

  • The muscles of the legs and hips; the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus muscles, and the lower leg, anterior tibialis , gastrocnemius and soleus.

  • The core muscles are important for maintaining balance and power; the rectus abdominis , obliques (internal and external), hip flexors , and the spinal erectors .

  • The muscles of the arms and shoulders are important to maintain a support position on the bike when leaning forward; the deltoids, biceps and triceps, and the muscles of the hand, wrist and forearm.

A good strengthening and conditioning program for these muscles will help ensure success on the bike. Weaknesses, or imbalances, in any of these muscles can lead to injuries for all cyclists. Special attention must be paid to stretching the muscles after use to ensure flexibility in commonly over-used muscles.

Most common injuries

Road cyclists are susceptible to many overuse injuries. They are also, due to the high rates of speed, at risk of traumatic injury. This combination means that cyclists must take precaution to avoid incorrect form and excessive wear on joints and bones.

The list of common overuse injuries experienced by cyclists includes Plantar Fasciitis, Knee Bursitis, Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB), Patellar Tendonitis, Lower Back Pain, and Muscle Strains. Cyclists who experience crashes may obviously also be subject to fractures and traumatic brain injury.

Plantar Fasciitis : The plantar fascia is a strong ligamentous band that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot. This band supports the arch of the foot and is under strain when the foot is bearing weight. When the foot supinates, such as when pedaling on a bike, this places additional stress on this fascia. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the fascia becomes inflamed and painful. Rest is the best medicine for plantar fasciitis. NSAIDs and ice massage can help, as well.

Knee Bursitis : Bursitis is a condition where the bursa, a fluid filled sac that cushions the tendons and ligaments where they cross the bone, become irritated and inflamed. This leads to redness, warmth, and swelling in the area. In some cases the bursa may rupture causing the fluid to leak out and impair the ability of the bursa to cushion. Repetitive flexion and extension of the knee can cause irritation to the bursa on the outside of the knee or on


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