Yoga for Cyclists: 5 Poses to Do After a Bike Ride

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Yoga to Empower | 0 comments

During warmer months, you will find me riding my bike on the roads of northern Harford County. Several days a week, I strap on my helmet, dress in bright colors, and clip into my pedals for a cardio workout and a mental reset while spending some time in nature. When the weather is colder or it’s raining, I’ll hop on my indoor road bike, which is attached to a smart trainer. Whether I’m riding inside or out, an important part of my workout happens when I get off of the bike. That’s when it’s time for yoga and myofascial release.

As you probably know, stretching after your workout can help to prevent injuries and delayed onset muscle soreness (check out this study for more information). But the type, duration, and intensity of the stretching you do after a ride matters. Read on to learn more about the short, yet effective, 5 pose sequence I do after every bike ride.

Cycling, Yoga, and Myofascial Release

As cyclists, we tend to focus on endurance, speed, and power. We often neglect strength, flexibility, and deep breathing practices. Incorporating yoga into your “after cycling” routine can be incredibly beneficial in helping to prevent overuse injuries, relieve muscular tightness, and improve range of motion. 

If you want even more benefits from your yoga poses, try incorporating myofascial release techniques (MFR). We can use MFR tools like foam rollers, tennis balls, or recovery rounds to help the connective tissues glide and slide more smoothly. For more information on MFR techniques, check out this article.

Slow, mindful breathing is used in yoga and with MFR techniques. Studies have shown that focusing on our breathing can have a calming effect on the nervous system. Conscious breathing techniques can help to train your respiratory muscles which can improve the efficiency of your breathing and help to improve body awareness. Bonus: when we’re breathing mindfully and noticing how a pose feels in our bodies, we are practicing being present!

Before you begin

It’s best to learn these techniques from a trained, experienced teacher. If you plan to try them on your own, please keep these three tips in mind:

Duration ~ One great thing about yoga and MFR is that it doesn’t require a lot of time. In fact, less is more when it comes to releasing muscular tension with MFR techniques. Try to take about 4-6 breaths in each pose. 

Intensity ~ We are not trying to break apart the fascia or crush muscle tension. Instead, we are trying to help these tissues rehydrate so that they can slide and glide with ease. MFR and yoga should never be painful. You should not feel anything sharp or shooting, nor should there be any tingling or numbness. We are looking for a productive sensation in the soft tissues.

Consistency ~ Stretching is not a “one and done” kind of thing. To reap the reward, we need to incorporate yoga and MFR after every ride.  

Just a few minutes

Below are five yoga poses that I do after each ride. This 10 minute sequence helps me release tension and improve flexibility in the muscles used in cycling, all while incorporating mindful breathing techniques. Each pose is held for about 4-6 breaths.

Please note… I’ve listed the poses below, along with an explanation of why I chose these poses. If you’d like to see what the poses look like and give them a try, click here to watch the FREE recorded class.

Yoga & MFR Sequence

  1. Twist with lateral flexion – In cycling, we are only moving in a forward direction. There is no other plane of motion (like twisting or side bending). It is important to move our joints through all planes of motion to maintain stability and flexibility. Twisting poses can also help to release tension in the spine, hips, and shoulders.
  2. Wrist, forearm, and hand release – Although I constantly remind myself to soften my grip on the handlebars, my forearms and wrists tend to hold a lot of tension after a ride. This MFR technique can help! Begin with the right palm facing the ground. Create a “lobster claw” with your left hand and grip the right upper forearm. Slowly rotate the right palm to face the ceiling. Repeat 4 or 5 times on each forearm.
  3. Supported fish – Cyclists spend a lot of time hunched over the handlebars of their bikes. Supported fish counteracts the forward rounding action in the spines, encouraging the front of the body to open while relaxing the shoulders and upper back. There are several variations of this pose, but my favorite one uses a foam roller.
  4. Figure 4 stretch – While you can certainly do this hip-opening pose standing, using a foam roller allows you to both release these hard-working muscles and rehydrate the connective tissue (fascia). This MFR technique also lets you explore the side of the hips in a way that the standing version does not.
  5. Calves – The constant, repetitive motion of the legs in cycling can shorten and tighten the calf muscles. The calves are often neglected when it comes to stretching, so don’t be surprised if you find a lot of sensation in this area. I like to use a myofascial release tool like a tennis ball or these recovery rounds to release tension in my calves.

What about the other leg muscles?

Of course, the IT band, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles do a ton of work when we are riding our bikes. There are a lot of yoga poses and MFR techniques for these vital muscles, as well! 

If you’d like to explore more yoga poses or MFR techniques that can help with cycling, email me to schedule a private or small group yoga session. 

You can also check out the self-paced, virtual MFR course I created. Let’s practice together!


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