The 10 Best Cool Down Stretches For Cyclists

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Warming up and cooling down are two essential pieces of training that athletes can be guilty of skipping.

It can be because of a lack of time and being in a rush to get to work or because, for most, it’s simply not the most enjoyable part of training.

However, warming up before a ride or race and cooling down after one have many benefits and are well worth the extra effort and time. 

Today, we’ll take a look at the 10 best cool down stretches for cyclists that you can add to your post-ride or race routine. You don’t have to do them all every time you ride, but choose the ones that best suit you, trying to tick all the muscle groups.

In this guide, we’ll be covering: 

  • The Benefits of Cool Down Stretches For Cyclists
  • What is Static Stretching? 
  • Top Tips for Static Stretching
  • The 10 Best Cool Down Stretches For Cyclists


Let’s ride! 

Cool-Down Stretches For Cyclists: Title Image

The Benefits of Cool Down Stretches For Cyclists

Have you ever gotten off your bike after a nice long ride with friends and found you’re so stiff you can hardly move?

After hours upon hours of cycling, your body gets “stuck” in your riding position, having held it for an extended period of time. The tension placed on your upper body while cycling can cause a lot of uncomfortable stiffness too. 

To help regain your natural movement, you should always perform cool down stretches for cyclists after your rides to target that stiffness and leave you moving freely again. 

Stretching after cycling can: 

  • Relax your muscles and increase blood circulation, which can help decrease recovery time

Those seem like good enough reasons to want to add some cool down stretches for cyclists into your routine, right?

A figure four stretch.

What is Static Stretching? 

When we cool down, we focus primarily on static stretching. That doesn’t mean you can’t add in some mobility as well, but the majority will be static stretches.

Static stretching is when we hold the same position for a prolonged period, ideally for 45-60 seconds, as opposed to dynamic stretching, which is an exercise done with movement. 

When we are static stretching, the muscles being stretched do not stay in their natural range of motion but are gently pushed beyond under mild tension. This is why it is crucial to only static stretch after workouts, as muscles are warmed up and will not strain under this tension.

All the cool-down stretches for cyclists in this guide will be static stretches to help provide the previously mentioned benefits. 

Top Tips for Static Stretching

Here are some pointers to ensure you perform these cool down stretches for cyclists properly: 

  • Only static stretch after your ride, not before.
  • Hold each post-ride stretch for 45-60 seconds to reap the most rewards.
  • Relax your muscles while holding each stretch to allow yourself to stretch a bit deeper.
  • Remember to breathe! This will help your muscles relax. With each exhale, try to gently stretch the muscle a bit more. 
  • Stretch your muscles gently. You should feel mild tension but not pain. If you feel pain, release the tension on the stretch, or stop altogether.

Now that we know what we are doing, let’s get stuck in to our cool down stretches! 

The 10 Best Cool Down Stretches For Cyclists

With these cool down stretches for cyclists, we want to ensure we stretch every muscle group used during our ride. Therefore, you’ll see stretches for your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, neck – just about your entire body!

#1: Curbside Standing Calf Stretch

Calf stretch.
  • Stand on a step, curb, or plyometric box. 
  • Place your left foot so the ball of your foot is on the edge of the step and your left heel hangs off the back. 
  • Take your right foot and place it on your left ankle, putting weight on your left foot. 
  • Gently push your left heel toward the ground.
  • Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Note: If you’re pressed for time, you can also perform this stretch by letting both heels drop toward the floor simultaneously, making it a double-leg heel drop stretch. From here, though, you don’t have the extra push from your other leg to deepen the stretch.

#2: Raised Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring stretch.

For this stretch, you can use the same curb or step you used for the calf stretch.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Step forward with your left foot and place your heel on the curb or step, ankle flexed.
  • Bend your right knee slightly.
  • Bend at the waist and bring your torso toward your extended leg until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring, keeping your back straight at all times. 
  • Hold this position for 45-60 seconds. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

Note: Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes! You only need to bend forward until you feel a stretch.

Don’t arch your back just to feel as though you are stretching more. This will change your position and will not have the same effect. 

#3: Figure Four Glute Stretch 

Figure four glute stretch.

If you have a mat for the following exercises where we are headed to the ground, it will be much more comfortable than straight on the pavement. If not, look for a nice patch of grass.

If you’re out of luck in that department as well, you can perform this stretch from a standing position. 

  • Sit on the ground with your left leg in front of you and your right leg in back of you; both bent at 90 degrees.
  • Keeping your back straight, lower yourself over your front, bent knee, lowering your elbows as close to the ground in front of you as you can.
  • Try to lower down a bit further with each breath for a deeper stretch. 
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

#4: Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch With Overhead Reach

Hip flexor stretch with overhead reach.
  • Start in a lunge position with your right leg in front of you at 90 degrees and your left knee on the ground directly underneath your body.
  • Engage your core and keep your back straight. 
  • Shift your body and right knee forward, keeping your upper body straight while lifting your arms and reaching overhead.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

#5: Standing Quad Stretch

Standing quad stretch.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bend your left knee and bring your left heel toward your glute.
  • Grab your left heel with both hands.
  • Gently pull your heel upwards and toward your glute. Ensure your knees are kept close together. 
  • Hold for 30-45 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side. 

#6: Cobra Pose

Cobra pose.

Yoga poses can be wonderful post-workout stretches for many sports. This pose can really loosen you up after a long ride. 

  • Lie on your stomach and place your hands under your shoulders.
  • Press into your hands and lift your chest, shoulders and head off the ground. How far you push yourself up will depend on your individual flexibility. 
  • Hold this position for 45-60 seconds.

#7: Child’s Pose 

Child's Pose, one of our cool down stretches for cyclists.

Sticking to our yoga theme, let’s look at Child’s Pose.

  • Kneel on the floor with your knees at hip-width apart and your feet together.
  • Lower your torso between your knees and extend your arms out in front of you with your palms facing the ground.
  • Let your head and shoulders drop and relax completely. 
  • Hold this position for 45-60 seconds, or longer if you’d like! 

#8: Forearm Cat Cow Pose 

Even though this pose could be considered dynamic because we move between two positions, it is still an excellent back stretch after a ride. You can hold each position for a few long seconds to stretch deeply.

  • Get on all fours, lowering onto your forearms and knees, ensuring your shoulders are directly above your elbows.
  • As you inhale deeply, arch your back and raise your shoulders, and face upwards as your hips drop toward the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • As you exhale, round your back, bring your head down to face toward your belly button, and tuck your pelvis. Hold this position for a few seconds. 
  • Repeat 8 times.

#9: Supine Thoracic Rotation

This is another one that sounds like a “dynamic” stretch, but you can do it by holding each position for a static stretch length of time. This stretch is fantastic for your spine, and you will feel each vertebra relax as you get to the open position. 

  • Lie flat on your back with your leg extended out in front of you and your arms perpendicular to your body, forming a “T.”
  • Lift your right leg straight up in the air, bend it at 90 degrees, turn on your left side, and lower it down to the ground.
  • Bring your right arm and place it palm to palm with your left, still extended directly in front of your chest. Now we are in our starting position.
  • Keep your lower body as stable and still as possible and lift your right arm and rotate your torso away from your left arm, bringing your right shoulder toward the floor. Let the top of your right hand touch the floor, but do not allow your right leg to come off the ground.
  • Hold for a few seconds. 
  • Rotate back toward your starting position.
  • Repeat 8 times.
  • Repeat on the other side.

#10: Neck Stretch

Knots and tension in your neck can be very common after cycling, so we must stretch our neck out to help avoid post-ride tension and potential headaches. 

  • Stand tall. 
  • Interlace your fingers behind your head, elbows open. 
  • Gently bring your chin to your chest, and your elbows come together for the stretch. 
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds. 

Found This Cyclists’ Stretching Guide Helpful? Check Out More From The BikeTips Experts Below!

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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-endurance athlete and UESCA and RRCA-qualified ultramarathon coach hailing from Newton, MA. Alongside her love of long-distance cycling, Katelyn has raced extensively in elite ultramarathons, and is the founder of the 30 Grados endurance trail-running club. Katelyn is also an experienced sports journalist, and is the Senior Editor of MarathonHandbook.

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