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Physiotherapist on Cycling: STRETCHING – Legs

By Tereza Gasperotti

Today’s stretching focuses on legs, which should be stretched thoroughly after training or riding, and at least some parts (anterior thighs, calves, adductors) should be stretched beforehand, too. You can also do these exercises on a free day, as a prevention of shortened muscles.

1. Stretching the hamstrings using yoga strap

The starting position is lying on the back.

Bend your left knee and put your left foot on the floor. Grasp the yoga strap or any other firm strap with both hands and place your right foot in its middle. Lift your right foot from the floor and straighten the knee as much as possible. Pull the heel of the straightened leg towards the ceiling. Keep a 90-degree angle with your ankle and pull your toes apart. Push the buttock under the straightened leg against the floor. Now stretch your left leg out on the floor and pull it away from your body, following the heel. Breathe freely while exercising.


Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.

Move your right leg across the centre line (to the left). Still pull the heel towards the ceiling and push the right half of your buttock against the floor. It is important not to bend the knee. If the pull is too strong or even painful, lower your leg a little, but never bend the knee. Breathe freely while exercising.


Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.

Then move your leg back to the centre.

Now grasp both ends of the strap with your right hand and use your left hand to hold your pelvic bone. Move the whole straightened leg to the right, but don’t follow the leg with your pelvis. Put the leg as low as possible. Ideally, the leg should be supported mainly by itself and the hand should only help a little. Breathe freely while exercising.


Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.

Repeat the whole exercise on the other side.

2. Stretching the piriformis (musculus piriformis)

The starting position is lying on the back.


Bend both knees and put your feet on the floor. Place the right outer ankle on your left thigh. Slightly push your right knee to the side with your hand. Breathe. After a while, increase the intensity by holding your left popliteal fossa and drawing the leg towards your body. Still try to keep the knee pushed to the side. Breathe freely.


Hold the stretching position for 20 seconds. Then repeat it on the other side.

3. Stretching the iliopsoas

The starting position is kneeling on one leg.


Kneel down on your right knee and keep a 90-degree angle between your left calf and left posterior thigh. Keep your knee, pelvis, shoulders and the top of your head in alignment. Feel like trying to lift the knee from the floor. Bring the feeling of pull from the knee, past the pelvis and the sacrum to the top of your head. Slightly push your pelvis forwards. Don’t sag your lower back. Stay in this position for a while and breathe freely.


Now place your left arm behind your back and raise your right arm upwards. (Don’t raise your shoulder towards your ear.) While exhaling, bend your torso to the left, keeping your pelvis aligned with your knee. Hold the stretching position for 10-15 seconds; then change the sides.

4. Adductors… the inner thigh

Stand with your feet wide apart. The tips of your toes point to the front.


Stabilize the core of your body, bend straight forwards and move your weight to the right foot; both feet stay placed on the floor. To improve the stability of the trunk and achieve a more intense stretch, put your hands on the floor. Breathe freely.


Hold the stretching position for 15-20 second. Then move your weight to the other side.

5. Anterior thighs

Assume the correct standing posture.

Stabilize the core of your body and move your weight to the right foot. Bend your left knee and lift the leg, so that your heel points towards your buttocks. If possible, grasp your left ankle with both hands and bring it closer to the buttocks. If you have problems keeping balance, hold your ankle with only one hand and use the other one to lean on a tree, a bench or your sparring partner for support. Keep your knees as close together as possible and point the bent knee vertically downwards. Slightly push your pelvis forwards. Keep your body in an upright position.


Hold the stretching position for 20 seconds. Then do the same stretch on the other side.

6. Stretching the calf muscle and hamstrings

The starting position is standing with your right foot extended forwards. Lean on your right heel and point the tips of your toes upwards, keeping your knee straight. Stabilize your body and bend straight forwards to bring your chest above your thighs. Bend your left knee and push your buttocks backwards, as if you wanted to sit down far behind your heels. You can either lean your hands on your left thigh, or grasp the toes of the stretched leg. It depends on the intensity of stretch you want to achieve.


Hold the stretching position for 10-15 seconds. Then do the exercise on the other side.