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Quench'd: 5 Yoga Stretches to Practice After a Bike Ride

May 25th, 2024 | by Agnès Castellan Rodriguez

In elementary school, I completely botched two portions of the Presidential Test (remember those?!) - pull ups and the sit and reach, with the sit and reach portion being particularly bad. Stretching and flexibility, I would say, are not exactly my strengths. In my days of working in footwear, I was with a colleague (4 minute miler runner) in South Korea, and we laughed at ourselves because we couldn’t sit comfortably on the ground as our hosts did at our nice dinner. I am guessing for all you endurance lovers out there like me, this might sound familiar. So we asked Agnès -  a mountain biker and yoga instructor, for some tips on stretching for cyclists. Here’s to touching your toes and making your joints feel a bit better. Enjoy! -Carina

Agnès is a mountain biker, yogi, world adventurer, and the founder of MTByogi.com. When adulting, she is a marketing consultant and graphic designer. Born and raised in the South of France, she now calls Oregon’s high desert home. Nothing is more fun to her than riding her backyard trails and traveling the world with her mountain bike in tow. Add good food and coffee (duh!) and her life is complete! The fine print: Agnès is a Registered 500-Hour Yoga Teacher, PMBI L1 Professional Mountain Biking Skills Coach, and ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor.

Cycling is not just a workout; it’s a lifestyle. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a weekend rider, you know the exhilaration of hitting the open (gravel) road or the peacefulness of pedaling through nature. But as much as cycling invigorates the soul, it can also leave your body feeling tense and tight. That’s where yoga comes in. With its focus on breath, movement, and stretching, yoga is the perfect complement to a bike ride. Here are five yoga stretches to help you unwind and rejuvenate after your ride. Follow along with the video, pause it if needed, and repeat after every ride or when your body (and mind) need it. Or read through the descriptions below. No yoga experience necessary!

In elementary school, I completely botched two portions of the Presidential Test (remember those?!) - pull ups and the sit and reach, with the sit and reach portion being particularly bad. Stretching and flexibility, I would say, are not exactly my strengths. In my days of working in footwear, I was with a colleague (4 minute miler runner) in South Korea, and we laughed at ourselves because we couldn’t sit comfortably on the ground as our hosts did at our nice dinner. I am guessing for all you endurance lovers out there like me, this might sound familiar. So we asked Agnès -  a mountain biker and yoga instructor, for some tips on stretching for cyclists. Here’s to touching your toes and making your joints feel a bit better. Enjoy! -Carina

Agnès is a mountain biker, yogi, world adventurer, and the founder of MTByogi.com. When adulting, she is a marketing consultant and graphic designer. Born and raised in the South of France, she now calls Oregon’s high desert home. Nothing is more fun to her than riding her backyard trails and traveling the world with her mountain bike in tow. Add good food and coffee (duh!) and her life is complete! The fine print: Agnès is a Registered 500-Hour Yoga Teacher, PMBI L1 Professional Mountain Biking Skills Coach, and ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor.

Cycling is not just a workout; it’s a lifestyle. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a weekend rider, you know the exhilaration of hitting the open (gravel) road or the peacefulness of pedaling through nature. But as much as cycling invigorates the soul, it can also leave your body feeling tense and tight. That’s where yoga comes in. With its focus on breath, movement, and stretching, yoga is the perfect complement to a bike ride. Here are five yoga stretches to help you unwind and rejuvenate after your ride. Follow along with the video, pause it if needed, and repeat after every ride or when your body (and mind) need it. Or read through the descriptions below. No yoga experience necessary!

1. Standing Side Stretch

Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you reach your arms up overhead, let the shoulders come up to your ears. With your left hand clasp the right wrist, inhale grow tall,  then exhale as you gently bend to the left, expanding up and out with your right-side rib cage. Avoid collapsing your left-side body by lifting up and out of your waist, extending through the right-side ribs. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides. 

2. Hamstrings and Shoulders

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and clasp your hands behind your back. Inhale to reach your heart out and spread the collarbones. As you exhale, bend your knees as needed and hinge at the hips to fold forward, allowing your arms to come up and over your head. Soften your knees to protect your hamstrings and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together to open up your chest and shoulders. Hold for a few breaths, then slowly release.

3. Half Split Hamstring Stretch

Come onto all fours and step your right foot forward between your hands. Inhale, then, as you exhale, straighten your right leg, keeping the back knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Engage your core to maintain a neutral spine as you fold forward over your left leg. Press your right heel into the ground and draw it back towards your hip to engage your muscles, creating a dynamic stretch. Use the power of your breath to navigate the stretch, and remember to only go as far as feels comfortable for your body, avoiding any strain or discomfort. A stretch does not need to be intense to be effective. 

4. Feet + Quads Stretch

Begin in a kneeling position with your toes tucked under and sit back on your heels. If this provides enough stretch for your feet and quads, you can stay here. For a deeper stretch, gently lean back and place your hands on the ground behind you. Keep your chest lifted and your spine long as you breathe deeply into the stretch. This pose can help alleviate tension in the feet and release tightness in the quadriceps. If it creates discomfort in your knees or hips, you can roll a towel or blanket as thick as needed and place it between your calves and the back of your thighs.

5. Legs Up the Wall

Lie down on your back with your hips close to a wall. Extend your legs up the wall and allow your arms to rest by your sides. You can place a folded blanket under your body for added support and comfort. Close your eyes and relax into the pose, allowing gravity to gently release tension from your lower body. Stay here for 2-5 minutes, focusing on deep, steady breaths. This is great to create blood and lymphatic drainage after a lot of standing, walking, biking or sitting at your desk! 

1. Standing Side Stretch

Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you reach your arms up overhead, let the shoulders come up to your ears. With your left hand clasp the right wrist, inhale grow tall,  then exhale as you gently bend to the left, expanding up and out with your right-side rib cage. Avoid collapsing your left-side body by lifting up and out of your waist, extending through the right-side ribs. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides. 

2. Hamstrings and Shoulders

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and clasp your hands behind your back. Inhale to reach your heart out and spread the collarbones. As you exhale, bend your knees as needed and hinge at the hips to fold forward, allowing your arms to come up and over your head. Soften your knees to protect your hamstrings and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together to open up your chest and shoulders. Hold for a few breaths, then slowly release.

3. Half Split Hamstring Stretch

Come onto all fours and step your right foot forward between your hands. Inhale, then, as you exhale, straighten your right leg, keeping the back knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Engage your core to maintain a neutral spine as you fold forward over your left leg. Press your right heel into the ground and draw it back towards your hip to engage your muscles, creating a dynamic stretch. Use the power of your breath to navigate the stretch, and remember to only go as far as feels comfortable for your body, avoiding any strain or discomfort. A stretch does not need to be intense to be effective. 

4. Feet + Quads Stretch

Begin in a kneeling position with your toes tucked under and sit back on your heels. If this provides enough stretch for your feet and quads, you can stay here. For a deeper stretch, gently lean back and place your hands on the ground behind you. Keep your chest lifted and your spine long as you breathe deeply into the stretch. This pose can help alleviate tension in the feet and release tightness in the quadriceps. If it creates discomfort in your knees or hips, you can roll a towel or blanket as thick as needed and place it between your calves and the back of your thighs.

5. Legs Up the Wall

Lie down on your back with your hips close to a wall. Extend your legs up the wall and allow your arms to rest by your sides. You can place a folded blanket under your body for added support and comfort. Close your eyes and relax into the pose, allowing gravity to gently release tension from your lower body. Stay here for 2-5 minutes, focusing on deep, steady breaths. This is great to create blood and lymphatic drainage after a lot of standing, walking, biking or sitting at your desk! 

Incorporating these yoga stretches into your post-bike routine can help prevent stiffness and soreness, allowing you to fully enjoy the benefits of your ride. But the advantages of yoga for cyclists extend beyond just post-ride recovery. Regular yoga practice can enhance your cycling performance and overall well-being in several ways:

1. Improved Mobility and Strength: Cycling primarily engages certain muscle groups, which may lead to tightness and limited mobility in certain areas. Yoga helps to counteract this by targeting muscles that may be neglected or overused during cycling. By improving mobility and strength, yoga can enhance your cycling efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.

2. Increased Strength and Stability:While cycling is excellent for cardiovascular health and leg strength, it may not provide a balanced full-body workout. Yoga, on the other hand, strengthens not only the muscles used in cycling but also those that support proper posture and alignment. Core stability, in particular, is crucial for maintaining a strong and steady position on the bike, and yoga poses like Plank and Boat pose can help develop this strength.

3. Better Breathing Techniques:Breath awareness is fundamental in both yoga and cycling. Yoga teaches you to synchronize movement with breath, promoting efficient breathing patterns and enhancing oxygen delivery to your muscles. By incorporating yoga breathing techniques into your cycling routine, you can improve your endurance and stamina, especially during long rides or challenging climbs.

4. Mental Focus and Stress Relief:Cycling can be a great way to clear your mind and relieve stress, but so can yoga. The mindfulness practice inherent in yoga achieved by linking mind and body through breath, helps calm the mind and cultivate present-moment awareness. By integrating yoga into your training regimen, you can develop mental resilience, improve concentration, and find greater enjoyment in your cycling experiences.

5. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: Yoga serves as a valuable tool for both injury prevention and rehabilitation. It promotes balanced muscle development, corrects imbalances caused by repetitive cycling motion, and aids in the recovery of injured tissues by increasing blood flow and promoting healing.

Yoga is much more than just a post-ride stretch routine—it’s a holistic practice that complements and enhances the benefits of cycling. By incorporating yoga into your training routine, you can improve your mobility, strength, breathing, mental focus, and overall well-being, allowing you to ride stronger, longer, and with greater joy. So roll out your mat, strike a pose, and pedal your way to a healthier, happier life!

Incorporating these yoga stretches into your post-bike routine can help prevent stiffness and soreness, allowing you to fully enjoy the benefits of your ride. But the advantages of yoga for cyclists extend beyond just post-ride recovery. Regular yoga practice can enhance your cycling performance and overall well-being in several ways:

1. Improved Mobility and Strength: Cycling primarily engages certain muscle groups, which may lead to tightness and limited mobility in certain areas. Yoga helps to counteract this by targeting muscles that may be neglected or overused during cycling. By improving mobility and strength, yoga can enhance your cycling efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.

2. Increased Strength and Stability:While cycling is excellent for cardiovascular health and leg strength, it may not provide a balanced full-body workout. Yoga, on the other hand, strengthens not only the muscles used in cycling but also those that support proper posture and alignment. Core stability, in particular, is crucial for maintaining a strong and steady position on the bike, and yoga poses like Plank and Boat pose can help develop this strength.

3. Better Breathing Techniques:Breath awareness is fundamental in both yoga and cycling. Yoga teaches you to synchronize movement with breath, promoting efficient breathing patterns and enhancing oxygen delivery to your muscles. By incorporating yoga breathing techniques into your cycling routine, you can improve your endurance and stamina, especially during long rides or challenging climbs.

4. Mental Focus and Stress Relief:Cycling can be a great way to clear your mind and relieve stress, but so can yoga. The mindfulness practice inherent in yoga achieved by linking mind and body through breath, helps calm the mind and cultivate present-moment awareness. By integrating yoga into your training regimen, you can develop mental resilience, improve concentration, and find greater enjoyment in your cycling experiences.

5. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: Yoga serves as a valuable tool for both injury prevention and rehabilitation. It promotes balanced muscle development, corrects imbalances caused by repetitive cycling motion, and aids in the recovery of injured tissues by increasing blood flow and promoting healing.

Yoga is much more than just a post-ride stretch routine—it’s a holistic practice that complements and enhances the benefits of cycling. By incorporating yoga into your training routine, you can improve your mobility, strength, breathing, mental focus, and overall well-being, allowing you to ride stronger, longer, and with greater joy. So roll out your mat, strike a pose, and pedal your way to a healthier, happier life!

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