Cycling the Camino de Santiago is an incredible experience. You get to see more things in a shorter period of time and you get to look at the Camino from a different angle. Of course, you’ll also need to look after your body differently, which is why we have put together some of the best stretches for cyclists.
Make sure you warm-up and cool-down properly when doing the Camino de Santiago by bike with these stretches for before and after your day of biking. Getting your muscles warm and limber will make everything easier and reduce your risk of injury.
Let’s get started!
Warm-up and stretching before cycling
Before you start each day of cycling the Camino, you will want to warm up and stretch. Pre-cycling stretches get your muscles ready for the day.
Start with warming up your body.
This is very important. You need to be warmed up before you start stretching or cycling to avoid injuries. Try this quick 5-minute warm-up to get your blood flowing. If you are feeling a bit stiff and need a longer warm-up then try this one.
Pre-ride stretches for cyclists
These are one of your main cycling muscle groups so you’ll need to stretch them out a few times each day. This is one of the stretches that cyclists should do whenever they take a break. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, bend your right leg up so your foot is close to your right buttock and grab your foot with your hand. Keep your core strong and try not to arch your back. Keep your knees close together. You should feel a stretch in the front of your upper right leg. If you need a deeper stretch you can try pulling your belly button towards your spine more and tilt your hips upwards. You can also try pulling your foot away from your bottom. Hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds before switching legs.
Standing on a flat surface, lift one leg and cross it over the other. Your ankle should be sitting just above the knee on your supporting leg, looking a bit like the number 4. With your core engaged, slowly bend your supporting leg and push your buttocks backwards as though you are going to sit down in a chair. Lean forwards gently until you feel a stretch in your glutes. Hold for 10 seconds before switching legs.
Next, lift your knee up towards your chest. Hold your knee as close to your chest as possible while keeping your back straight. You should feel this in your glutes and the back of your leg. Hold for 10 seconds before switching legs. Repeat this stretch twice.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step back with your right leg into a lunge. Bend your front knee to a 90-degree angle and lower your back knee to the floor. Tilt your hips upwards and push your pelvic forwards until you feel a gentle stretch in your hip. Lift your arms above your headend arch your back slightly for a deeper stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds before changing to the other leg.
Standing in front of a wall or tree, step your right foot back into a lunge. Your right leg should be straight, and your heel should be off the ground. Push against the wall gently until you feel a stretch in your calf. Your heel should be pushing gently towards the ground. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds before changing legs.
This stretch for cyclists is one you’ve probably seen before. Stand up tall and slowly hinge from the hips. Reach your fingers towards the floor below your head. You should fee the stretch on the back of your upper legs. Hold this fold for at least 20 seconds, then come up, shake your legs out, and repeat.
It is important for cyclists to stretch more than just their legs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, facing a wall or pillar. Put your right arm out to the side and place your palm against the wall. Move your feet to turn your body to the left, leaving your arm on the wall behind you. You should feel a stretch in your chest and armpit. You can wriggle your hand higher or lower on the wall to adjust where the stretch is. Hold for 20 seconds before switching arms.
Put your arms out in front of you and do “thriller hands”! That means bending your hands down and pulling your fingertips towards the ground. Then, bend your hands up, and point your fingers towards the sky. From here, rotate your hands slowly clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Next, interlace your fingers and roll your wrists in circles. Do each of these for 10 seconds.
Once you are all warm and stretched you are ready to get on your bike and cycle the Camino. Remember to take the first 10 to 20 minutes quite easy to let yourself get settled in and even better warmed up.
Throughout the day, if you feel yourself getting stiff or sore – stop and do some gentle stretches. You’ll be glad you did!
Stretches after cycling
Your post-cycling stretches are just as important. Stretches after a long day of cycle touring will help your muscles to recover and reduce pain. Some of the bigger cycling days can leave you feeling a bit tender if you don’t stretch out properly.
First, cool down
Take the last 10 to 20 minutes of the ride nice and easy to let your body know it’s time to relax. When you get off the bike, shake your legs out, walk around the bike for a while. You might like to swing your legs around for a while or do some gentle swaying and twisting of the body.
As your heart rate starts to drop, it is time to get stretching before your muscles get too cool.
Post-ride stretches for cyclists
If you have time, this is a great opportunity to do a good body check-in and maybe even a short yoga session. Yoga can help your balance and strength, as well as your flexibility.
If you would rather get out exploring as soon as possible, then repeat all the stretches you did before you started cycling.
- hip flexors
If you are feeling tightness or tenderness anywhere on your body you should look up stretches for those areas in particular. Your stretches that you do as a cyclist may change as you ride and learn which of your muscles need more stretching than others.
With stretching, longer periods of gentle stretching will do more good than trying to push yourself too far. Cyclists on the Camino should aim to do stretches at least twice per day – every day. Not stretching enough can lead to all kinds of issues, so look after yourselves!
Have an incredible journey cycling the Camino de Santiago! We hope it will be your best bicycle tour holiday yet.
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Originally published on 15th February 2021