By Sandra Bevin – Personal Trainer, I Can Personal Training
Whilst it should by now be obvious that your shoulders require stretching after a ride you may wonder why the chest needs stretching, as out of all the muscles in your body, the chest works the least in cycling. That is in fact the very reason why you need to stretch your chest as these muscles are always hunched inwards, therefore they will require stretching out otherwise you will be susceptible to “rounded” shoulders and start looking like the missing link (unless that’s the look you’re going for?)
If the stretches provided in this and previous articles have not helped alleviate tightness and pain, then I recommend that you assess how your bicycle is set up. If this does not help then please see a physiotherapist.
Regular massages are also crucial to aid flexibility and recovery.
I hope you have enjoyed my articles on stretching and found them to be beneficial. The next topic will be overtraining, how to recognise it and how to recover from it.
Regular chest stretch
Stand up straight, link your fingers behind your back, and lift your arms up and away from your body. Ensure that your shoulder blades are pulled together, opening up your chest. As you hold the stretch, take a deep breath in, hold for a few seconds, then slowly exhale. As you exhale, lift your arms up and away from your body further. If your flexibility doesn’t allow you to link your fingers together, ask a partner to stand behind you, holding your wrists as close together as your flexibility will allow, and get them to slowly lift your arms up and away from your body.
L shaped arm chest stretch
This is my personal favourite stretch for the chest. Standing alongside a pole or a wall corner, bend your left elbow and place your lower left arm, from elbow to hand flat on the surface. Slowly twist your upper body away from your arm. As the stretch releases, take a deep breath in. As you release your breath, increase the pressure by increasing the upper body twist away from your arm. You can hit different parts of the left side of the chest by raising or lowering the height of your arm placement. Switch arms.
Seated shoulder stretch
Sitting on the ground, bend your knees, reach forward and wrap your fingers over top of your toes. As you relax in to the stretch, round your back more and push away with your toes, pulling your arms further away from your body, deepening the stretch in to the backs of your shoulders.
Standing tricep stretch
Standing up straight, raise your left arm directly above your head, then bend your elbow, with your left hand touching the back of your neck. Place your right hand on your left elbow and press your left elbow further down your back. Ensure that your left elbow is pulled back and away from your head, as far as comfortable. As you relax in to the stretch, apply a little more pressure downwards from your right hand, resisting the same pressure with your left elbow, deepening the stretch in to the tricep.
The bicep is one, if not the, hardest muscle to stretch – unless you have double jointed elbows. My favourite bicep stretch is this… standing up tall, extend your arms out to your sides, palms up. Pull your shoulder blades together by drawing your arms back behind you as far and wide as possible. Keeping your elbows slightly bent, slowly raise your arms up and away from your body. Lower and raise your arms several times.