IF YOU’RE A RIDER

When you see motorcycle riders on the road, you may not think that leisurely cruising in the countryside may cause pain or discomfort. However, long rides or improper posture can take a toll on the body.

Any avid rider knows and lives by the philosophy to “Live Free, Ride Hard,” and this time of year always reminds us of the motorcyclists in our communities.

 

Stretch

Take a few minutes stretch before, during breaks, and after a ride, especially when traveling more than 10 miles. Stretching increases flexibility to help prevent common ailments such as low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and muscle strains due to localized muscle fatigue, that may lead to further injuries.

 

Some easy stretches you can do when you’re getting ready to ride. 

 

LEG SWINGS

The hips don’t lie! As any cyclist can attest, your hips can get really tight from riding your bike too long, says certified personal trainer Stephanie Duryea. “Working on hip-flexor mobility and your hip mobility in general is really important.” HOW TO DO THEM: Stand with your bike to one side, holding the seat for stability. Swing your outside leg forward and backward, keeping it straight and extending the length of the swing with each repetition. Repeat 10 times. Next, turn to face your bike and swing your leg side to side, stretching the outer hip and thigh muscles and the groin muscles. Repeat 10 times, and then change sides to work the other leg.

 

CAT-COW STRETCH

When it comes to biking, your glutes are your powerhouse, says triathlon coach Scott Seamster. So flexibility in that region is crucial, he says. Since your back may also become stiff from hunching over throughout your ride, Seamster recommends doing this stretch to warm and loosen the muscles surrounding the spine. HOW TO DO IT: Get onto all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you slowly arch your back, letting your belly drop down toward the floor and your hips and shoulders rise up. Then reverse the position as you exhale, rounding your spine and tucking your pelvis. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.

 

HEEL-TOE WALK

Cycling can be brutal on your calves. To show them some love, triathlon coach Scott Seamster, suggests parking your bike and doing a heel-toe walk. You’ll warm up your calves and help facilitate ankle flexibility. Plus, it’s good for your shins as well, says Seamster. HOW TO DO IT: Take a step forward, landing on the heel of your right foot. Stay on the heel and briefly lower your torso down over your right leg. Raise your torso back up and transfer the weight onto your right foot, rolling from the heel to the ball of the foot. Rise up on the ball of the foot as high as you can, and then lower down and take a step forward with your left leg, landing on your heel. Continue to walk in this way for 30 to 60 seconds.

 

CHEST STRETCH

Hunching over your handlebars for endless miles can cause your chest muscles to tighten. Before you start peddling, triathlon coach Scott Seamster recommends doing a quick dynamic chest stretch that also targets your legs and back. HOW TO DO IT: Stand facing the side of your bike with your feet hip-distance apart. Grab the top tube (or your seat and handlebars for a little wider grip) and lean forward at your waist so that your back is parallel to the ground. “Hold there with a slight flexion in your elbows and press your chest down toward the ground,” Seamster says. To make this dynamic, hold for three seconds, stand up tall, and then assume the position again for five to 10 repetitions.

 

BUTT KICKS

Open up your quads and hip flexors pre-ride with butt kicks. Just don’t jump too hard or too high — it’s the kick part of this exercise that’s most important to open up the fronts of the legs. HOW TO DO THEM: You can do this one standing in place or on the move. Jump up and down on alternating feet, bending one knee at a time and kicking the foot of that leg toward the glute on the same side. Try to get your foot as close to your butt as you can for the maximum stretch, says personal trainer Stephanie Duryea. Keep your torso upright and your pelvis tucked just slightly. Continue kicking for 30 to 60 seconds.

HIGH KNEES

With this stretch, imagine yourself riding an imaginary bike. As personal trainer Stephanie Duryea says, dynamic warm-up stretches are most effective when they simulate the activity you’re about to do. HOW TO DO THEM: Stand in place and lift one bent knee up at a time as high as you can. To make it a little more challenging, speed up the pace, hopping back and forth and kicking alternate knees up as high as you can. “That’s the motion that you’re doing in biking — your knees are coming up and pulling on your glutes and your low back. Your body’s like, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to be doing for the next 30 to 90 minutes,’ and then your body’s getting warmed up in the way that it’s going to be used,” says Duryea.

SHOULDER REACH

Your shoulders do a lot more work in biking than you might realize. So it’s a good idea to loosen them up with a targeted stretch before getting on your bike. HOW TO DO IT: Stand tall, reach your arms up over your head and shrug your shoulders up and down. “Keep your biceps next to your ears and reach your fingertips for the sky so you get a stretch in your latissimus dorsi,” says triathlon coach Scott Seamster. This muscle (your lats) runs underneath the shoulder and down the sides of the back and is responsible in part for bringing your shoulder in toward the body.

Stay comfortable on a long cruise by checking your posture. Matt shares his expertise from an ergonomics standpoint:

“When it comes to sitting properly on your bike, even small adjustments to your seat or handlebars could make a huge difference in the way you feel when you ride.”

  • Keep wrists slightly extended and elbows slightly bent. This keeps your shoulders in a stronger position allowing for better handling of your bike.
  • Your neck should be in a straight and neutral position with your torso upright and shoulders back.
  • Hips and knees should be in a comfortable position, a little below 90 degrees to put your back in a better position to handle longer rides.

Stay Hydrated

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a hot summer day to become hydrated. Here are some easy tips to follow:

If you are thirsty, this means you are probably already dehydrated.  So stay ahead of it by drinking water before, during and after a ride.

Monitor your hydration with the “urine test.”  A light lemonade color indicates adequate hydration. A dark apple juice color generally means you’re dehydrated.

Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, slow reaction times, headaches, increased sweating, shallow breathing, low blood pressure and electrolyte imbalances. With severe dehydration, a rider may experience delirium or cognitive impairment, which can put yourself and others in great danger.

 

Wear the Gear

Bikers dress the way they do not only because it looks cool . . . but it serves a much bigger purpose.

  • Clothing:High temperatures tempt riders to wear as little as possible, but bare skin absorbs more heat from the sun and raises core temperature. Wear a light long-sleeved shirt to help prevent fluid evaporation from bare arms.
  • Footwear:The right boots will protect your feet, ankles and lower legs from being crushed or burned.
  • Helmet:Not only is a helmet going to protect you from head trauma, but it also can lessen dehydration and ease the effects of hot wind.