The Importance of Stretching for Cyclists

Cycling Tips

The importance of stretching in our cycling practice is something that gets ignored all too often. Focus on (or, our addiction to) the bike itself, logging miles and building up volume, always finds a way of taking center stage; this, to the chagrin of our bodies—which are getting tighter and tighter with every stroke of the pedal. 

Is it possible to just cycle? Here’s a hard truth: Doing any one thing is never enough. There has to be balance, and it has to be conscious; intentional. Let’s look into this a little more, and get to know our sport in a way we never quite knew it previously.

Written by Dynamic Cyclist

The Life of a Cyclist

People often have many firsts when it comes to cycling. There’s the first time we get on a bike when we’re a small child. Picking one up to commute through a new city while we attend college. Again in our late 30’s/middle age to stay in shape; then finally one last hoorah into the golden years with the hopes of staying active through the latter chapters of life.

Or, maybe not. Maybe you’re one of those hard-charging, always dedicated, super consistent people who have been building up your fitness for decades and never missing a ride. A 10,000 kilometer calendar year for you is just another year. To those we say, good job!

Either way, let’s face something head on…

Adulthood is difficult. It’s hard to stay motivated and consistent enough to maintain some semblance of our younger selves in the mirror. Our figure changes, skin loosens, and we fight father time with all our might. Is cycling the answer to all our woes? Well, if it wasn’t at least part of it…very few of us would be here.

What Hurts Us?

While accidents are the most serious problem for cyclists, the most common is actually overuse injuries. The repetitive nature and static positioning that characterizes our time on the bike leads to some unique problems throughout the body. Practicing any movement, initially, helps the body to adapt to and become more efficient at that movement. Too much, and we start to break down.

The body is an adaptation machine. Give it an input, and it will respond accordingly. The muscles that propel you forward (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, calves) will get stronger, but at the same time, they’ll also get tighter. Your body thinks, “My person is spending all their time on this bike, I better make them good at it.”

Just one problem, it wasn’t made to be on a bike, it was made to do all sorts of things. The point of diminishing returns comes when we start to feel all the aches, pains, stiffness and injury that comes with chronic riding (or chronic anything, really). The repetitiveness of cycling makes this process particularly insidious.

Common Cycling Problems & Injuries

Revolutions per minute (RPM) can range anywhere from 60-100+ for beginner to advanced riders, respectively. That’s 3600-6000 pedals per hour. It adds up quickly. What does this do to our bodies? And where does the importance of stretching come into play? Take a look at some of the most common sites of pain and injury that cyclists have to deal with.

Lower Back

Our lower backs sit in a less than ideal position while riding, particularly as we drop into lower, more aerodynamic positioning. We have the strain of supporting our torso in this bent over posture, coupled with pressure from the saddle driving up against us from the other side. The low back sits amidst it all, and is consequently very susceptible to pain and injury.


The hip flexors are trouble makers, particularly the psoas, and particularly in cyclists. The hips never fully extend while pedaling, and remain constantly in a semi-flexed position. This shortens the hip flexors, and because of their attachments to the lumbar spine, pull on our low backs, tip the pelvis forward, cave the knees, and collapse the foot arch—among other things. Boo.


Knee injuries like cyclist’s knee and others might be the most common injury cyclists get (it’s either the knees or low back; they both suck). Heavy use of the quadriceps and inefficient activation of the hamstrings/glutes (+ tight calves) leaves the knee in the middle without a hope in hell of normal physiological function. Pain in and around the joint often results.


With our head forward and craned up in front of us to see the road and keep our eyes level with the horizon, coupled with the intensive cardiovascular demands of cycling, our poor necks get severely overworked. If we have a desk job and/or bad posture in general, the effects get compounded on the bike, often leading to tension headaches, dizziness, migraines and the like. 

Wrist, Arm & Hand

Constant tension in the forearms and sustained pressure through the handlebars creates an environment that is restricted in every sense. We’re not moving, our muscles are tight, and everything is compressed. Numbness in the hands, pain in the wrists, and symptoms similar to tennis elbow are not uncommon in cyclists for these reasons.

How Do We Fix These Problems?

This is the question we’ve worked so hard to answer with Dynamic Cyclist. Our goal from the beginning has been to address the needs of cyclists, and show them how to ride, train, and compete pain-free. A lot of that comes with understanding the importance of stretching, and putting it into practice with a daily routine designed specifically for the athletes in our sport.

The Importance of Stretching for Cyclists

Stretching and mobility are two terms that rarely enter the lexicon of most cyclists; that is of course, until they get hurt. Then all of a sudden there is a mad dash to stretch anything and everything all at once. We’re guilty as a community of taking the same mindset that pushes us through multi-hour rides, and projecting it onto things that are supposed to be the opposite of hard.

A regular stretching and mobility routine is a key part to any cycling regimen that keeps you healthy long-term. Let’s explore what makes it so, and get you pointed in the right direction for lifelong cycling health and high performance.

Benefits of Stretching for Cyclists

We know stretching makes us feel good, which leaves one to wonder why we don’t do it more often. We get it—time is scarce, stretching is boring, you’d rather be riding, etc. But it is our goal in the closing of this article that we convince you to do just a little bit extra each day, for the sake of keeping you on the bike longer, and giving you the tools to take back control of your health.

Improve Flexibility

The most obvious benefit to stretching is that it makes you more flexible. That limber pliability you took for granted in your youth can once again be restored (trust us!), but it takes a consistent practice of showing your body that that’s actually what you want for it. A more relaxed state of mind and fluidity of movement awaits you on the other side of a regular stretching routine.

Correct Muscle Imbalances

All of the aforementioned issues caused by cycling can oftentimes be linked to a muscular imbalance. Tight muscles pull things into weird, sub-optimal positions, wearing and tearing away on our joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Bringing the body back into balance with a targeted stretching routine helps mitigate these problems to a large degree. 

Increase Circulation

Exercising while sitting is an odd phenomenon for our bodies, but it’s exactly what cycling is. Constant pressure through the saddle and handlebars, thousands of muscle contractions in the legs, and rampant breathing patterns to boot is a recipe for tightness and compression. Stretching opens everything up, allowing blood, oxygen and nutrients to traverse back through your system.

Post-Ride Recovery

Immediately after cycling, should we head straight to the pub? Collapse into the La-Z-Boy? Whether we end up doing those things or not is a different question. But what we should be doing post-ride is using the primed, just exercised body as an opportunity to work on our flexibility and unwind accumulated damage. It’s when our bodies are most receptive to doing so.

Mental Relaxation

Sometimes it can be hard to process the effort that we’ve just put in on the bike; we hardly give ourselves enough time to come down from the cycling high. Implementing a regular stretching and mobility routine gives a space for calm. It carves out time to truly take care of yourself, in a way that is less exertive and more gentle/rehabiliatative.

Discover Stretching & Mobility

Dynamic Cyclist is the world’s leading stretching and mobility platform for cyclists. We offer years of high quality, follow-along video content led by world class coaches. Our programming is designed by cyclists, for cyclists, and it’s all available to you for a fraction of the cost of just one physiotherapy or massage appointment. 

It’s the perfect companion app to JOIN Cycling, and they’re offering a 7-day free trial to anyone who reads this article. CLICK HERE to sign up for your risk-free subscription today, and discover what professionally planned stretching and mobility can do for your cycling, and for your life.

By Dynamic Cyclist


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Nadine Isatitsch
Nadine Isatitsch
Communication, Marketing & Yoga Teacher
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