Cycling is not just a question of proper training but also about being able to recover quickly and efficiently. Try with yoga!
Being an endurance cyclist is not just a question of proper training but also about being able to recover quickly and efficiently. And you can start with yoga.
To ensure your body is capable of repeating intense efforts day after day, serious cyclists know they need to do everything possible to help to speed up the recovery process.
You might already know that stretching is not a great idea right after an intense ride. Tiny muscular tears which you don’t notice, can become larger and cause a lot of pain if you stretch tired muscles too much, too quickly.
But what you might not know is that there are some surefire ways to aid the recovery process and help you back up big rides the next day, and yoga can be a real game-changer. Restorative yoga poses can be hugely beneficial as soon as a couple of hours after you ride. These sequences are relatively passive and work on removing lactic acid from torn muscles by activating blood circulation, as well as releasing trigger points and stiffness in your muscles by stimulating a natural recovery process. Sounds good, right?
We’ve teamed up with Haute Route Ambassador and Yoga instructor Delphine Dard-Pourrat for the inside tips on how you can use yoga to improve your performance on your bike.
In this first session, we’ll cover eight moves that will help you recover faster from an intense ride. This sequence is intended to help you relax and restore all the muscles of your legs, back and hips involved in your hard cycling session.
→ Each pose should be held a minimum of three minutes and up to ten minutes. Three minutes is the minimum time required to allow the blood to relax tensions and trigger points in each muscle targeted.
→ By staying in a position, you will also be able to get a positive restorative impact on deep tissues, which is not possible when doing regular stretching.
→ You may have some discomfort before you feel a sudden release of the tension, so aim to staying in the pose though the discomfort. However, if you feel any intense pain, immediately leave the position.
→ Wear your favourite comfortable loose fit clothes. It is also always a good idea to have an empty stomach for restorative yoga.
→ For this session, you will need to have a yoga belt or any regular belt (a long one) as well as a block or any big book (like a dictionary) that you can find.
Eight yoga poses to boost your cycling recovery
1. Back stretch in crossed leg seated position
Start in a cross leg seated position, extend your arms in front of you and root your fingertips firmly on the ground, drop you head and enjoy the stretch.
After three minutes in this central position, extend your right arm out past you knee, grab your right wrist with your left hand and stretch on your left side. After three minutes, repeat on your other side.
2. Child pose variation
You can repeat this first sequence by starting in Child’s Pose, sitting on your ankles. The stretch in the central and side positions will work differently by gently stretching your lower back.
Transition: Before you continue this restorative session, transition into a four-point base position and do a few rounds of gentle cat and cow, alternating between arching and rounding your back ten times. Then lay down gently on your back in Supine position (lying on your back).
3. Deeps stretch of the legs to remove tension in your glutes and hamstrings
Start by laying on your back, take your belt and place it under the sole of your right foot. Now stretch and extend your leg, taking care to push firmly with your foot onto your belt. After roughly one and a half minutes, raise your chest up for a few seconds and then go back to the ground, bringing your right leg closer to your chest.
After three minutes, take your belt in your right hand and open your right leg to the right. Breath and relax for three minutes.
Return to the centre, place both parts of the belt in your left hand, cross your right leg over your chest and stretch your left side.
Release and relax for a moment before repeating the whole variation for your left leg.
Transition: Pull your knees towards your chest, brace and gently rock yourself from side to side to massage your lower back for a few seconds. You can repeat this transition between every posture performed.
4. Happy baby
Pull your knees toward your chest and open your legs, hip distance apart. Grab the outside of the soles of your feet with your hands. Pull your feet firmly towards your chest. If you are flexible enough, you can repeat this pose by grabbing your feet from the internal side. This will give you a deeper stretch. Keep the position for three minutes then release and relax into supine position.
5. Supported half-bridge
With your knees bent and feet on the ground, raise your hips and place your yoga block (or big book) underneath your sacrum. Then lower your hips, allowing all the weight of your body to rest on the block. After three minutes, raise your hips again and remove the block. Massage your lower back with your knees held towards your chest, then release and relax into a laying position for a few seconds.
6. Iliopsoas stretch from half bridge
Place the block underneath your sacrum again, but this time start with both legs extended on the floor. Then bring your right knee toward your chest and brace it for three minutes. Repeat on your left side, then relax.
7. Supine crescent moon pose
Start from supine position. Cross your left ankle over your right ankle. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and stretch both arms and legs to your side. In the full pose, you should draw a crescent moon on the ground. Enjoy a full stretch and stay in this position for at least three minutes. Then relax and repeat on the other side.
8. Final relaxation in legs-up-the-wall pose
This inverted pose will boost your blood circulation, speed up the process of eliminating lactic acid and help remove soreness in your legs. Try to get your legs straight and as close as you can against a wall. Also try to have your sit bones supported, meaning they should touch the floor. If this is not possible, you can fold a small blanket and place it under your sit bones. Use your hands to gently lift your hips and help you come closer to the wall.
This pose may feel super comfortable and you can stay in this position as long as you like, closing your eyes and deeply relaxing.
The instructor Delphine Dard-Pourrat is an Haute Route ambassador living in Luxembourg. She has been practising yoga for over 13 years and is an experienced instructor. When not riding her bike, she designs and teaches yoga classes specifically for athletes and cyclists. You can follow her on Instagram to get some inspiration: @delphinebdk