Words by: Dr. Karen Roitz, DC
Cycling is a great way to get outside, have some fun and improve your health. It can, however, create some unwanted muscular pain and imbalances for the avid rider. The two most common muscular and postural imbalances that I see with cyclists (myself included) is upper back and hip tightness. This is the result of a relatively static posture while in the saddle that creates rounding of the upper back (thoracic spine) and shoulders, as well as shortened hip flexors. Here are 5 simple stretches that can improve one’s comfort when riding and help prevent repetitive strain injuries from too much time on the bike.½ Kneeling Quadriceps/Psoas Stretch
Begin on the floor, kneeling on one leg. Place a towel or pillow under the knee for comfort. Place your kneeling foot on a wall/door behind you to increase the amount of knee flexion. Gently lean forward without arching your back. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Raise the arm of the kneeling leg to increase intensity. Foam Roll IT Band
Lie on your side, support the upper body with the elbow positioned directly underneath the shoulder. Place a foam roller under the outside of the thigh and cross the opposite leg over so that the foot is firmly on the floor. Slowly move foam roll throughout outer thigh, from hip to knee as tolerated, for a duration of 1 to 2 minutes. Maintain consistent pressure. If a painful area is found, stop rolling and REST on the area for 10 seconds as tolerated, and then continue. Alternate sides as directed. Foam Roll Glutes
Begin seated on the foam roller. Cross one leg over the other, placing the ankle on the thigh above the knee. Support your upper body with one hand. Press downward on the crossed knee with hand initiating a tightening sensation in the hip. Lean slightly to the same side and gently roll forward and back for a duration of 1 to 2 minutes. Maintain consistent pressure with a foam roller. If a painful area is found, stop rolling and REST on the area for 10 seconds as tolerated, and then continue. Alternate sides as directed.Open Book
Begin lying on your side with a foam roller parallel to your body. Put your top leg over the foam roll with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Place bottom hand on knee. Stretch top hand out to the floor, keeping the elbow straight and shoulder 90 degrees to the body. Guiding with top hand, roll your back until its flat and top hand is palm down on the floor behind you. Repeat for prescribed sets and reps. Foam Roll Thoracic Spine
Begin seated on the floor and lie back, placing a foam roller under and across the upper back. Interlock fingers behind the head to support the neck. Lift hips off the floor. Gently massage the upper back, rolling up and down, as tolerated, for a duration of 1 to 2 minutes. Maintain consistent pressure with a foam roller. If a painful area is found, stop rolling and REST on the area for 10 seconds as tolerated, and then continue.
Content Courtesy of SOL Santa Cruz & Juliana Bicycles:
Juliana Ambassador - Karen Roitz, DC - Dr. Karen has worked with many professional cyclists over the years at major events like Sea Otter. When she is not working at her clinic, SOL Santa Cruz, she can be found riding her Furtado or Quincy on the local Santa Cruz trails.
Chris Taquino - DPT is the Director of Physical Therapy at SOL Santa Cruz and a major contributor to this article. Chris is also an avid Santa Cruz cyclist.
Juliana Ambassador - Alex Pavon - Alex Pavon is an enduro racer for the Juliana-SRAM Pro Team and emergency room EMT based in Flagstaff, Arizona.