I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.
As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up taking some longer rides to compensate.
As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up at that point. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flowing back into my legs when I finish.
I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.
For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of his stretched out leg to the top of his head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing.
I find the second stretch to be very satisfying and also slightly more difficult. I don’t have the balance to do it as in the photo. I always put one hand against a wall to steady myself. Reach back with your right hand and lift your foot bending at the knee. Grasp your foot as close to the toe as possible as this elongates the muscle more. Now, again, stand at a right angle to the ground, don’t lean. Holding the wall, pull up gently with your hand till you feel a good stretch. It shouldn’t hurt, but you should feel a pleasant pull. With your body straight do the same diaphragmatic breathing as before with five counts on the inhalation through the nose and then five counts on the exhalation through the mouth. Do this four or five times and then release the foot and let it gradually lower to the ground. Don’t drop it. Repeat with the other foot.
After I do these, I can feel the energy surging in my legs again and find new impetus and strength to ride.
Obviously, you can use these if you are a runner, too.
If you run, or ride a bike and have any favorite stretches that work well for you, please feel free to share them here.
Eat less; move more; live longer.