Top Tips from our October subscription box on mobility and recovery from GB cycling team Sports Therapist and owner of Roadside Therapy.
Post Training Tips:
If you’re like many of us, you most likely won’t be taking enough time to cool down after your training sessions. No doubt rushing straight into work and then sitting in a chair all day. Leading to lots of stiffness and a very counterproductive time spent in the gym! We’d like you to resist that temptation and give your body some love at the end of your session, by incorporating the following routine.
Just grab yourself some space on the floor and allocate about 20 minutes for the full mobility routine.
Angry Cat/Happy Cat
A wonderful stretch for everyone as it helps to release tension in the entire, back and neck. Also perfect if you’ve been driving or desk bound most of the day.
Start on your hands and knees on the floor.
Angry Cat - Tuck your chin into your chest and round your back up toward the ceiling until you feel a nice stretch in your upper, middle, and lower back.
Hold for approximately 10 seconds and then return to the starting position with a flat back while you are on all fours.
Happy Cat -Let your back sway by pressing your stomach toward the floor. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling.
Hold for approximately 10 seconds and return to the position in point 2. Repeat the full sequence for 2 minutes.
A great stretch to follow from Angry Cat/ Happy Cat by providing a gentle stretch for the whole back and shoulders. A good opportunity to focus on your breathing, bring your heart rate back down and allow the stretch to fully sink in.
Sit in a kneeling position. Fold over so that you forehead sits on the floor. Straighten your arms in front, so that the hands are shoulder width apart.
Inch your fingers forwards, then draw your palms into the mat and hips backwards to help lengthen the spine.
Maintain the position for 1 whilst thinking about your breathing.
Incorporate a lateral stretch by walking the hands over to the left, holding the stretch for another minute and then over to the right, and also holding for a minute.
Repeat twice on both sides.
Hip Flexor Stretch
It’s easy to neglect the hip flexors, but as they assist with flexion and extension of the hip, they shouldn’t be missed! With neglect they can become short or weak and can cause lower back pain.
Start in a lunge position, with the back knee on the floor. Use the front leg to support the upper body.
In this position, add some little circles with the hip, and slowly try to increase the angle to provide a greater stretch to the hip flexors.
Maintain this position for one minute, and then swap to the other side.
To give a greater stretch, place the arm of the side that’s being stretched in the air and side bend of over the bent leg.
Repeat twice on both sides.
Stretching of the hamstrings is key to help prevent injury and maintain length and elasticity of the tissues. Similar to above, tight or weak hamstring can often lead to pain elsewhere due to compensatory movements.
Following through from the above Hip Flexor stretch, with the leg that is leading, try to straighten the leg up by driving the hips backwards, taking the weight onto your heel.
Slowly bring the upper body down towards the leg or using the hands to rest of the leg or floor, whilst continuing to drive the hips backwards.
A stretch should be felt in the back of the leg. Hold the stretch for one minute on each side, maintaining good breathing.
Repeat twice on both sides
The couch stretch may not be as comfortable as the name would suggest, but it’s a great way to open up your hips and reduce tension in your back after a long day spent sitting at your desk or following a session in the gym.
Find a wall or couch that you can use to stretch against. You may want to use a mat or cushion to place under your kneeling knee for comfort.
Square your knee into the wall/couch, so that your toes are pointing upwards and your shin is against the wall.
The opposite leg should be in a high knee position. With the arm on the same side using the leg for support.
Whilst maintaining this position, the glutes should be engaged, your spine in a flat/neutral position with the hip bones facing forward
Hold each side for one minute and repeat twice on both sides.
A fantastic stretch as it helps target many of the muscles that are shortened and tightened whilst you train. This stretch also helps to target a common complaint we see with many clients, such as Piriformis Syndrome. Where the Piriformis muscle tightens and can irritate the sciatic nerve. Resulting in pain down the back of the leg.
Start on all fours. Bring your right knee up towards your right hand.
Slide your back leg backwards to create a deeper stretch in your hip and groin.
From this position, you can remain upright, with your chest tall and arms straight or walk your arms forward to create a greater stretch.
Try to relax into this posture, maintaining your breathing and focusing on the areas being stretched.
Hold each side for one minute and repeat on both sides.
Downward Facing Dog
An ideal movement to really stretch the calves, hamstrings helping create some length into the spine and an opening into the chest.
Begin on all fours. Turn yours toes under and spread your fingers wide.
Lift your hips up to the ceiling to form a V shape with your body.
Draw your weight into your heels.
Should the weight in your shoulders and arms feel too intense, bend your knees to shift your weight. The spine should be neutral in this position and core engaged to help support the shoulders.
Hold the stretch for a minute, thinking about your breathing.
To maximise the stretch into the calves, you can start to pedal the heels back, bending one knee and driving the opposite heel into the floor, hold this for a breath in and out and swap.
Lower Back Stretch
A great stretch to finish off this mobility routine, helping target the lower back and stretch out the hip area. Without practice, this can feel quite an intense stretch, so be sure to practice and make sure this one is part of your go to stretches.
Start by lying on the floor on your back. Bring your right knee up to a bent position.
With your left hand on your right knee. Bring your right knee across the left side of your body.
The right arm should remain straight out to the right, away from the body. Whilst aiming to keep the shoulder and arm flat on the floor.
Hold the position for one minute, concentrating on your breathing and aiming to slowly increase the stretch.
Repeat twice on each side.
Tips on how to use a Foam Roller and Trigger Point Ball
Using a foam roller is a way to perform myofascial release around muscles. Myofascial refers to the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and other body parts and allows for movement. This internal webbing can stiffen with repetitive motions such as long distance cycling.
A foam roller is a self-massage tool that can be used pre and post ride. Firstly to help improve mobility, and to also help aid recovery. By decreasing muscle tension in chronically tight spots, a foam roller and trigger point ball can provide some of the benefits of a Sports Massage.
Trigger points are areas located on specific spots on your muscle and the surrounding tissue. These trigger points are one of the most common sources of referred pain. This means that when the trigger points are pressed or activated, pain is felt somewhere else in the body.
By using a ball to apply pressure to these points, the triggers are released, the muscles are eased and the pain alleviated. Depending on the trigger spot, the pressure may be painful at first, but after treatment the muscles should feel noticeably relaxed.#
Target each area with 3 – 4 rolls upwards and then downwards of the foam roller. Areas to be focused on with the roller are, calves, hamstrings, quads, mid and upper back and finally, glutes. You can then use a massage ball to help work into the upper back and bottom muscles, using light pressure to find the trigger points and once found maintaining some gentle pressure for about 30 seconds until the area eases. A full routine should take approximately 10 minutes.
*As with all of the mobility stretches and movements above, should you experience severe discomfort or pain, please stop and should it be needed, seek medical help.
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