Yoga Stretching for Cyclists

Key Yoga Exercises Help Cyclists Maintain Flexibility in Tight Muscles

Yoga stretching is the perfect exercise for cyclists with tight hamstrings and lower back problems caused through long days in the saddle.

Cycling is a healthy activity which builds and maintains muscles, helps to control weight and is gentle on the joints as it is low-impact. Regular riders, however, often suffer from some of the downsides of cycling such as tight hamstrings which are little used when cycling and lower back problems due to riding in the same position for long periods of time.

Key Yoga Postures for Cyclists

Yoga stretches or asanas as they are better known are the perfect remedy for curing and preventing such problems and key yoga poses using forward bends and back bends are a great complement for regular bicycle riders. Use a yoga mat or other non-slip mat to perform the poses. Follow the exercises using the pictures below as a guide.

Intense Forward Bend - Uttanasana

Stand upright and, exhaling, bend forward from the waist keeping the legs taut and body weight equal on both feet. Aim to touch the floor and, if possible, place the palms on the floor. Breathe evenly and try to increase the stretch on each out-breath. Hold for one minute. This intense stretch is wonderful for the hamstrings and spine. Those who find it easy to rest the palms on the floor can increase the stretch still further by placing the hands behind the feet.

Downward Dog - Adhomukha Svanasana

Lie face down with palms by the chest. Exhale, raise the trunk upwards, straighten the arms and move the head towards the floor keeping the heels flat on the ground. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Performed correctly, this yoga stretch is both exhilarating and re-energizing and stretches the chest, spine and leg muscles.

Upward Dog - Urdhvamukha Svanasana

This is a counter yoga pose to the upward dog allowing the spine to be flexed in the opposite direction. Lie on the floor face down with feet flat and palms by the waist. Inhale and raise the head and trunk, pushing back on the flexed legs without lowering the knees to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. This asana stretches the spine, thigh and calves and is a great cure for back problems caused by too many hours in the saddle.

Locust - Salabhasana

An invigorating but challenging backward bend. Lie face down with arms stretched back and palms upward. Exhale and simultaneously lift the head, chest and legs off the floor. Contract the buttocks and hold the pose for 5-8 breaths if possible. The locust position is excellent for relieving pain in the lumbar region as the spine is stretched backwards. An added benefit is it also relieves flatulence!

Cobra - Bhugangasana

Those who find the Locust pose difficult to hold can try the Cobra or Serpent pose instead. Lie on the floor facing downwards with the hands by the pelvis. Inhale, press the palms down and lift the trunk. Whilst the hands make this back bend easier, the aim is to raise the trunk without relying too much on the hands. The effect on the spine is the same as with the Locust pose.

Maintain Cycling Flexibility Through Yoga Stretching

Regular practice of key yoga positions is an excellent way for cyclists to loosen tight muscles and avoid or alleviate back problems. Invest in a good quality yoga mat to make yoga practice a regular part of an all-round cycling training regime.

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If you don't have the time for Yoga Stretches have a look at our article on more basic Stretching exercises for cyclists.