With the combination of the summer season and the Rio Olympics, more and more people are getting on their bikes and taking up cycling for fitness. Cycling provides a fantastic cardio workout but it does come with a couple of drawbacks one of which is possibly making your hamstrings and hip flexors tight. Many athletes are turning to yoga to help support their training, including Olympic cyclist Evelyn Stevens who loves how practicing yoga keeps her body strong and her mind clear. Read on for our Top 5 Yoga Poses For Cyclists!
1. Low Lunge
When cycling, your hips never go into full extension. Cycling and the combination of office jobs requiring us to sit in chairs for long periods significantly shortens and tightens our major hip flexors.
The low lunge is a fantastic and simple stretch that gets right into your tight hip flexors and stretches the quadriceps. Holding this pose for around 30 seconds after a long bike ride will do wonders for your tight hips.
2. Upward Facing Dog Pose
This pose is great for opening your shoulders and chest and gently stretching your lower back to counteract your upper body position when cycling. Leaning forward during cycling can cause tension to build up between your shoulder blades, practicing yoga poses like upward facing dog helps to open your tight shoulders and create space in your chest.
3. Camel Pose
Similar to upward dog, the camel pose helps to open the chest and shoulder area as well as being quite an intense back bend. The camel pose also stretches the abdomen, quadriceps and hip flexors and significantly strengthens the back muscles which help support you as a cyclist.
Remember to listen to your body in this pose and only go as far as you feel is right for you to gain the most benefit.
4. Pigeon Pose
One of my all-time favourite stretches for the psoas (hip flexor) muscle. The psoas is the only muscle connecting the torso to our lower body and like the hip flexors, becomes significantly shortened due to sitting and activities such as cycling. Having tight psoas can manifest in back and hip pain so practicing poses that stretch this muscle can do wonders for your body.
5. Downward Facing Dog Pose
Let’s not forget our hamstrings which love a good stretch after a long day on the bike. We’re going back to yoga basics with this pose but downward dog is still a really effective posture to lengthen and stretch the hamstrings as well as release the shoulders.
This extremely effective pose will lengthen the spine, open the shoulders and stretch your very grateful hamstrings. Hold this posture for as long as 1-2 minutes, breathing deeply and soaking up the benefits. You’ll immediately notice you can effortlessly lift your legs (and when you walk, almost as if on air) and kick higher into the bargain too!
Through intense cardio and strength training our muscles can shorten. Practicing yoga is a great way to increase our flexibility and enable us to use the whole muscle, making you stronger and less prone to injury. So get on your bike this summer, enjoy the fresh air and combine your cycling with a bit of yoga to really benefit your entire wellbeing and physique!