8 Best Stretches for Cycling

Cycling is a repetitive motion exercise that can lead to tightness in several major muscle groups. Stretching after a ride can have a variety of benefits when done properly. Just be sure to follow safe stretching guidelines. Here are eight of the best stretches for cyclists.

Cycling stretches

Verywell / Amelia Manley


Standing Quad Stretch

The quadriceps (quads) are a group of muscles along the front of the thigh. These muscles are the most developed in cyclists and often prone to fatigue and cramping. Here is a simple standing quadriceps stretch.

  1. Bend your right knee while standing and bring your heel toward your buttock.
  2. Reach for your ankle with your opposite (left) hand.
  3. Stand up straight and pull in your abdominal muscles, keeping your knees together.
  4. Stay close to a wall or post in case you need to touch it for balance.
  5. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Release and repeat on the left leg.

Standing Calf Stretch

The calf muscle (gastrocnemius) runs along the back of your lower leg. Cyclists use this muscle constantly during pedaling motion. You can do a variety of calf stretches. This one can be done standing.

  1. Stand a foot away from a wall, tree, or post facing it.
  2. Extend one leg behind you, keeping this knee straight and your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Lean forward and bend the forward knee, feeling the tension in your rear leg's calf muscle.
  4. Extend your hand to the wall for support if needed.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

Hip and Lower Back Stretch

It's good to open the hips and stretch the muscles of the hips, groin, and lower back. Sitting, even on a bike, causes these muscles to shorten and the opposing muscle group to lengthen. This hip and lower back stretch is also great for golfers.

  1. Begin in a forward lunge position with your right leg forward. 
  2. Drop your left knee to the ground and place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee.
  3. Press your right elbow gently into your right knee and twist your torso to the left.
  4. Reach your left arm behind you until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right groin.
  5. Hold the stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
  6. Repeat on the other leg.

Hip Flexors and Psoas Stretch

The hip flexors are a group of muscles that bring the legs up toward the trunk. Cyclists often have tight hip flexors because the cycling motion never allows the hip to fully extend.

Keeping the hip flexors limber is essential for avoiding muscle imbalance and post-ride stiffness. Use this hip flexor and psoas stretch, which can be done standing, or a more advanced version taking it all the way down to the floor.

  1. Stand with your right foot forward and your left foot straight back.
  2. Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle into a forward lunge position.
  3. Place your hands on your forward knee and press down, moving your hips forward to feel a stretch on your left side.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

Simple Shoulder Stretch

Cyclists spend a lot of time hunched over the handlebars. This basic shoulder stretch can help open the chest and loosen tight shoulders.

  1. Begin with relaxed shoulders.
  2. Raise your right arm and bend the elbow, bringing your hand behind your head to touch your upper back.
  3. Bring your left arm over the top of your head and place your left hand on your right elbow to gently support your right arm during the stretch.
  4. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then release.
  5. Repeat with the left arm.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Like the hip flexors, the hamstrings can be prone to stiffness because the knee does not fully extend while cycling. This hamstring stretch can help maintain length in the hamstrings.

  1. Sit with both legs out straight.
  2. Extend your arms and bend at the waist, keeping your knees straight.
  3. Bend as far as you are able.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then relax.
  5. Repeat three times.

Plantar Fascia Stretch

If you have any foot pain while cycling, this plantar fascia stretch can help relieve pain along the plantar fascia, a band of tough connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot to the heel.

  1. Reach forward while sitting and grasp your foot. If it is easier, you can do this by crossing your leg and grasping your foot. 
  2. Pull your toes up towards your shin, feeling the stretch in the bottom of your foot.
  3. Support your foot with your other hand, if you want.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Perform this stretch three times on each foot, alternating feet.

Piriformis Stretch — Pigeon Stretch

Cyclists often experience IT band tightness. This stretch for the iliotibial band and piriformis is a more advanced stretch, that is sometimes called the pigeon pose in yoga.

  1. Start in a pushup position on your hand and toes.
  2. Slide your right knee forward, angling it so your right foot is pointing toward your left hand and the outer side of your knee and ankle are touching the floor. 
  3. Slide your left leg back as far as is comfortable, lowering your body down, keeping your hips square to the floor.
  4. Keep your arms at your sides with fingers helping provide balance. (Or you can fold forward and brace with your forearms on the floor).
  5. Hold the stretch 30 to 60 seconds and release.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.

A Word From Verywell

Cycling is a repetitive activity that can cause you to develop tightness and even lead to pulled or strained muscles. To help alleviate some of that tightness and prevent straining your muscles that comes from sitting in the saddle for extended periods of time, you may want to implement a stretching routine to help maintain flexibility. If you are injury prone or are just starting an exercise routine you may want to speak with a healthcare provider to determine which type of stretching is best for you.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Knee conditioning program.

  2. University of California-Berkeley. Get to know your psoas muscles.

  3. Team USA. 6 Moves to loosen up tight hip flexors.

  4. Cooke N. Cycle for Life: Bike & Body Health & Maintenance. New York: Abbevillle Press Publishers.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.