Upper Body Stretches for Cyclists

Your upper body played a supporting role so don't neglect it after the ride.

It’s true that your legs, hips, and glutes do the bulk of the work in indoor cycling. But chances are, you carried some tension in your upper body and used the muscles in your arms, chest, or shoulders to help you shift your riding position or support you while riding in a standing position. So it’s a mistake to neglect these muscles when it’s time to cool down and stretch after the ride. Taking a few moments to stretch may help prevent post-exercise muscle soreness and restore range of motion; plus, it’s a great way to help you feel relaxed after the ride and make the transition back to a standing position (on the ground). 

For the sake of simplicity and convenience, it’s easy to stretch the muscles in your upper body while you’re still seated on the bike (think of this as an effective way of multitasking!): While continuing to pedal at a gentle pace so that your heart rate can come down slowly and you can avoid blood pooling when you get off the bike, do the following six stretches.

Stretches for Indoor Cyclists

Chest stretch: Keep your shoulders relaxed and down, and place your arms behind your back at waist level, clasping your hands together. Gently lift your arms straight up behind you a few inches without straining your shoulders; hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, feeling the stretch in your chest, then release.

Shoulder rolls: Place your hands on the tops of both shoulders and move your elbows in large circles as you do three big shoulder rolls from the front to the back. Then, reverse the move and do three big shoulder rolls from the back to the front.

Upper back stretch: Clasp your hands out in front of you at chest level, interlacing your fingers and maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. Bring your chin to your chest and round your upper back, giving yourself a big bear hug. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds then release.  

Shoulder stretches: Bring your right arm across your torso and your right hand toward your left shoulder, keeping your right elbow at chest level; place your left palm on your right elbow and pull it toward your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Switch sides.

Overhead triceps stretch: Keep your shoulders down, and bend your right elbow as you lift your right arm up next to your head, placing the fingers of your right hand behind your head so they touch your upper back between your shoulder blades. Then, place your left arm over the top of your head and your left hand on your right elbow to gently support your right arm during the stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then release. Repeat with the left arm.

Neck stretch: While sitting tall in the saddle, place your right palm on top of your head and gently pull your head towards your right shoulder, so that your right ear approaches your right shoulder. Keep both shoulders down and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds then release. Repeat on the left side.

After doing these stretches, you’re ready for a series of lower-body stretches! (Don't forget to do your core-strengthening exercises, too.)

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