Some Good Leg Stretches for Cyclists

I ride my bicycle nearly every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for a total of 6350 miles. So far this  year, I am over 7500 miles in the first week of December.

In a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As every rider knows, your legs can get stiff after a while.  I have found three wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs. I usually do them after ten miles or so. That way the muscles are warmed up and I have good circulation.

There are pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I do yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do the diaphragmatic breathing. That sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the muscles. I can always feel a flow energy into the stretched muscles after the stretch.

Hamstring stretch

Hamstring stretch – try to keep the leg and back in a straighter line than this runner.

For the first bent-knee, long leg one, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of your stretched out leg to the top of your head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same positive only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing.

Quad-stretch

Quad-stretch

I find the second stretch to be very satisfying and also slightly more difficult. I don’t have the balance to do it as in the photo. I always put a hand against a wall to steady myself. Reach back with your right hand and lift your foot bending at the knee. Grasp your foot as close to the toe as possible as this elongates the muscle more. Now, again, stand at a right angle to the ground, don’t lean. Holding the wall, pull up gently with your hand till you feel a good stretch. It shouldn’t hurt, but you should feel a pleasant pull. With your body straight do the same diaphragmatic breathing as before with five counts on the inhalation through the nose and then five counts on the exhalation through the mouth. Do this four or five times and then release the foot and let it gradually lower to the ground. Don’t drop it. Repeat with the other foot.

Standing half bow. You can steady yourself on a wall or fence.

Standing half bow. You can steady yourself on a wall or fence for balance.

The third is a variation on the standing half bow yoga pose. My variation is simpler. Before releasing the stretch above, grasp the foot and try to straighten the leg. This will bring a very gratifying stretch to the quad muscle. Again, do the diaphragmatic breathing as before. Try to release it slowly rather than snapping it down.

After I do these, I can feel the energy surging in my legs again and find new impetus to ride.

Obviously, you can use these if you are a runner, too.

If you run, or ride a bike and have any favorite stretches that work well for you, please feel free to share them here.

Tony

Lakefront Leaf Mosaic

This is really funny. Most days I stretch out my quads after riding 10 to 15 miles. One of my favorite places to stretch is at the Doane Observatory behind the Adler Planetarium. There are some nice fence bars there to hold on to while I stretch. The funny part is that I never noticed till this morning that the leaf coloring was magnificent. I was so busy stretching the concentrating on breathing deeply that I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. Or, in this case I guess I couldn’t see the leaves for the eaves.

I park the bike here and support myself on the fence to the left while stretching.

Here are the leaves which are right in front of my face while I stretch.

Amazing array of colors, no?

Tony

Thank You – All 200 of You!

I just got this little badge from WordPress that said I had a LIKABLE BLOG.

When I started writing this blog last month, I fully expected to post about two dozen items over the coming year. Here I am in my second month and I am on number 35. Go figure!

I saw and loved the movie Premium Rush and wanted to write about it. It didn’t seem to fit the other blog that I co-write with my friend John, so I started this blog. I wanted to write about My Favorite Things as I said on my About page. I guess didn’t know that I had so many.

It’s gratifying that my simple message of positivity and beauty can find such a welcome.

I want to thank all of you folks who have visited my blog and taken the time to LIKE what you read and saw. I am thrilled that someone else likes my photos. I don’t think I am dry yet, so I hope you will return from time to time.

Just informationally, I also co-write a blog on Diet, Exercise and Good Health including Healthy Aging. It was John’s brainchild, an old friend from Reuters. You can check it out at: guysandgoodhealth.com.

Tony