A sound mind in a sound body, as the saying goes. And a sound body gets extra emphasis when it comes to sports. Most people aren’t aware that a seemingly common form of the sport like cycling also requires a proper warm-up session. Whether it’s a hobby or a means of transport for daily commuting, you have to know the importance and basic rules of warming up before a bike ride. It doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to do these exercises, so it’s easy to warm up before we head out. By following these rules, you can safely pursue this hobby anytime!
Warming up before a bike ride
As technology has evolved over the years, more and more types of cycling sports have appeared. In addition to cycling as a hobby, there are spinning, road, and trail biking (among many others). Regardless of the terrain, there is one thing you should not forget about: warming up.
We usually need two forms of exercise to warm up. The first is cardio, which helps warm up our muscles, and also increases heart rate, speeds up breathing, and boosts circulation. Thus, it prepares us mentally and physically for the workout.
The other essential kind of exercise is stretching, which helps warm up the muscles, ligaments, and joints. The best stretching exercises are the ones that move the muscles that you will use when riding a bike, like thighs, calves, arms, hips, shoulders, necks, and back muscles. After warming up, you can start cycling slowly and then increase the intensity gradually, giving a chance for the muscles to warm up properly. You should also avoid sudden movements that can cause an injury. However, keep in mind that it’s important to warm up before and stretch after riding a bike!
Warm-up exercises before you ride
People tend to skip stretching or don’t like post-workout stretching, so I’ve put together a list of exercises you can easily do in no time to stretch your muscles. Do every exercise for at least 30 seconds because it takes at least that long to make them effective.
- The first exercise is to stretch the quadriceps, also known as the quadriceps femoris composed of four heads. If this muscle is stiff and we don’t stretch it, it can make pedaling difficult as we cannot apply enough force to the pedals without warming up properly. First, stand on one leg and pull your ankle to your buttocks, keep your knees closed and your back straight.
- The second is stretching the hamstring. If these muscles are properly stretched, it’s easier for your hip to lean forward on the bicycle, and you can also improve your posture. Extend one leg while the other is bent, then lean forward, grasp your toes and lean more towards them.
- The third is stretching the glutes and hip flexor muscles. It is especially important for people who tend to have back pains after a long bikecycling ride. For this exercise, lie down, pull one leg up, and stretch the other leg with a resistance band.
What happens if you don’t warm up properly?
Since it’s easy to take this sport lightly because you just “hop on your bike and ride away”, it’s just as easy to suffer minor or major injuries. Jumping into a heavy exercise with cold and stiff muscles and joints is not recommended.
However, if you don’t warm up properly, your leg can cramp and you will suffer from muscle soreness, so much so that the next day you won’t even sit on your bike. Worst case, even microtears can occur in the muscles. Thus, if you skip the warm-up, your body and mind will suffer too as a result.
Once you have finished your workout, don’t forget to stretch your slightly shortened muscles to reduce the risk of injuries and prevent muscle soreness. Stretching shouldn’t be painful, so only do the exercises as long as they feel pleasant for your muscles. Most people ride a bike as a hobby, but due to increasing environmental awareness, more and more people use a bike every day, for example, to go to work or school. So, even if you only want to ride a bike as a hobby, always warm up before, and help our body get used to this kind of exercise gradually!