5 simple stretching exercises that can improve your riding performance

riding health, stretching -

5 simple stretching exercises that can improve your riding performance

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We need that flexibility to keep a range of motion in the joints especially during those long hours in the saddle. Without it, the muscles shorten and become stiff. As a result, when you push them for activity, your muscles do not work in their full capacity. They are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage and can keep you off riding for days.

Here are 5 simple stretching exercises to do before jumping in the saddle:




Seated Butterfly

What does it do to your body: relaxes your mind, enlivens the entire spine to support the sitting position and straightens the inner muscles of your thighs.

Step 1
Start by sitting down with your legs crossed. Straight your back, close your eyes, relax and take a few deep breathes focusing on the inhale-exhale movement of your chest.

Step 2
When you feel ready, bring the soles of your feet together, knees bent opening out to the sides.

Step 3
Grab your feet and ankles, exhale and slowly lean your torso forward while keeping your back straight.

Step 4
Place your elbows on the tops of your thighs and gently press down until you feel your muscles stretching. Breath slowly, release after 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.



Cobra

What does it do to your body: strengthens the spine, stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen, soothes sciatica.

Step 1
Lie down on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Pull the elbows back ‘into’ your body.

Step 2
Press your whole lower body, from the tops of the feet and thighs to the pubis, firmly into the floor.

Step 3
Inhale and begin to straighten the arms and lift the chest off the floor. Keep maintaining a connection through your hips to legs. Press the tailbone down and lift the pubis toward the navel. Try to firm but not harden the buttocks.

Step 4
Firm the shoulder blades against the back, pushing the side ribs forward. Try to distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.

Step 5
Hold the pose anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. With an exhalation, release back to the floor. Repeat 5 times.



Seated Forward Bend

What does it do to your body: strengthens the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.

Step 1
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bring your arms up over your head, reaching toward the ceiling. Inhale and draw your spine up long.

Step 2
As you exhale, begin to lean forward, hinging at your hips. On each inhale, lengthen your spine. You may come a bit out of your forward bend to do this.

Step 3
On each exhale, deepen into your forward bend. Remember to keep the neck as the natural extension of your spine (neither cranking it to look up nor letting it go completely).

Step 4
Take hold of your ankles or shins, whichever you can reach. Keep your feet flexed throughout the whole exercise.

Step 5
Breathe and hold the pose for 3-8 breaths. 

Step 6
To come up, inhale and lift the torso up to the sitting position. Relax. Repeat 3 times.


High Lunge

What does it do to your body: opens the hips and chest, stretches the groin and legs, strengthens the lower body, lengthens the spine.

Step 1
Start in Downward-Facing Dog position, with your palms and feet on the floor (almost like an upsidedown “V”). Exhale and step your foot forward between your hands keeping your knee over the heel. Keep your other leg strong and firm.

Step 2
Pull your tailbone toward the floor and feel your muscles stretching. You can stay in this position or inhale and raise your torso to upright. At the same time raise your arms overhead.

Step 3
Hold between 30 to 60 seconds. If you decided to raise your torso upright, exhale, release the torso down to your tight, sweep your hands back onto the floor, and, with another exhale, return to the Downward-Facing Dog position. Hold for a few seconds, breathing calmly and repeat with the other foot.



Knee Hug

What does it do to your body: stretches your buttocks, stretches the backside of your legs, strengthens the ankles, strengthening your balancing skills.

Step 1
Stand straight with your feet slightly separated.

Step 2
On an exhale, tens your core abdominal muscles, bend one of your knees and bring it up to your torso. Work on your balance and breathe slowly.

Step 3
While still standing straight, start pulling the knee towards your chest and feel how your buttock stretching.

Step 4
Hold the pose between 30 to 60 seconds. Release and repeat with the other leg.

 

Keep in mind, you want to stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain. Do not bounce during a stretch. Focus on your breath and enjoy the process.

What are your favorite stretching exercises? Share your tips in the comments below.

Keep on riding. Stay healthy.

 


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