As cyclists we use every muscle in our legs during a specific stage in the pedal stroke. Typically we focus on the larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, and tend to neglect the hip muscles. Hip muscles, specifically the hip flexors are used significantly during cycling especially when climbing. It is the muscle responsible for bringing the hip into flexion or plainly stated, upwards. Therefore, if we don’t consistently stretch this muscle we can put ourselves at risk for several injuries. Tight hip flexors can make us susceptible to a muscle strain, avulsion fracture where the tendon rips off the bone, anterior rotation of the hip causing a shortened leg, or limited range of motion during cycling which causes decreases in speed. There are several stretches that can be completed solo or with the assistance of a partner.
Hip Flexor – Iliopsoas Stretches
This stretch should be completed approximately 3 times for 30 seconds each. To feel more of a stretch you can push on your glutes to push the hip slightly forward. Make sure to maintain an upright posture when completing this stretch.
Lunge Stretch with Variation
This is a more advanced stretch of the former and will target more muscle fibers in the hip flexor. By placing the stance leg increasingly forward it will enhance the stretch. It can be completed using the edge of a table, chair, or bleacher at a park. Complete the stretch 3 times for 30 seconds.
Stretch-Out Strap Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch can be completed on a flat surface 3 times for 30 seconds each.
Partner Hip Flexor Stretch
Your partner should push slowly downward on the hip flexor being stretched and stabilize the opposite hip with their other hand. This can be completed 3 times for 30 seconds each.
By incorporating these stretches into your normal flexibility routine it will lower your risk of injury as well as maintain normal mobility of the hips. By having good hip mobility it will assist in having a more efficient pedal stroke. If you want targeted stretching routines built for cyclists, check out Dynamic Cyclist for more information.