This is a guest post from Morgan Kellock, owner and instructor at Mo-Yo Movement and Yoga Instruction in Lake Forest Park. Yoga is a great way to counter the tightness in hips and hamstrings that can result from your time on the bike.
Cyclists build mighty leg, hip, and back muscles but along with power comes tension. Because the hip flexors and hamstrings are in prolonged flexion while biking, the hips, legs, and lumbar spine can become stiff and sore over time. Gentle stretching will ease pain and increase mobility but like a tight rubber band pulled too far too fast, aggressive stretching can cause injury, too. Always cycle and stretch safely.
Forward Bends will stretch hamstrings and low back but if tightness is extreme, they are most safely practiced with support: seated on the floor with props, or standing backside against a wall. Knees can stay slightly bent, as needed. No bouncing! Hold your stretches for 5-10 slow rounds of breathing, relaxing into the legs with each breath. (If necessary, practice one leg at a time.)
Butterfly or Cobbler’s Pose—seated feet together, knees apart, hands holding ankles—will open the hips using body weight and gravity passively. Sitting with straight spine against a wall will prevent tight hamstrings from pulling the pelvis under and hunching the back. Again, use your breath and take your time through 5-10 slow rounds. Breathe into the back ribs and relax into the hips.
Pigeon Pose is great for opening the hips—flexors on front side, glutes on backside—but it can be challenging for beginners to properly align the hips for maximum benefit and safety. This is a good one to learn in class.
Following is an easy Supine Sequence for opening the low back, hips, and hamstrings that can be done while lying in bed or on the floor. Connect all the moves or do them separately as needed.
Open in corpse
1) pelvic tilts tailbone to waist, moving into pelvic clock in all planes
2) knee to chest (right & left) several times, then both knees to chest
3) supine spinal twist (right & left), releasing low back, engaging core
4) hamstring stretch (right & left), rotating through open hip if desired
5) bridge, releasing into reclining butterfly if desired
Close to corpse.