Head to the Couch to Ride Better

May 29, 2015

Working on your hip flexors will improve your pedal stroke.


Stretching is an often overlooked but important part of becoming a better cyclist. Hamstrings, quads and calves are all obvious areas to stretch. Less obvious are the hip flexors. The muscles in this region of the body are constantly shortened because we spend a lot of time sitting. Your position on a bike also shortens these muscles. Getting the hips open through stretching will help both your cycling and overall stability.


The couch stretch is something you can do easily at home, at work or traveling. It will help open up the hips and relieve some of that tension that comes from being in a flexed position. As the name implies, you’ll need a couch!


Phase 1

With your back to the couch, stand on your left leg, bend the right knee and place it in the middle of the seat cushion, hooking your toes and foot over the back of the couch. Keep the shin of the left leg vertical.


Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your hips and lower back. Keep the stretch light: a 4-5/10 in intensity. Hold for five minutes and switch legs.


With this stretch, it is important to keep the spine in neutral position: don’t arch your back. 

Once you feel improvement in this position—and the stretch is feeling too easy—you are ready to move to the next progression.


Phase 2

Move your knee further back on the seat cushion into the crease between the seat back and cushion, which will help open up the hip and increase the stretch. Keep your glutes squeezed.


Use a chair or the arm of the couch for balance. You will find it best to balance with the hand on the side of the hip flexor you are stretching.


Doing this stretch consistently will help release the tension in your hip, making you smoother on the bike. Being smoother on the bike will make you more efficient and able to focus on a proper pedal stroke.


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