Spring has sprung! And you know what that means in 2020, don’t you?
Everything is still strange, confusing and out of place, case in point; the Tour de France is happening now instead of it’s usual July spot in the calendar.
This is the first time in it’s 117 year history that is has been postponed, while it has had 10 years off (1915-1919 and 1940-1946) for the two World Wars; it’s good to know that COVID can’t keep it down!
Which is great for us sports fans, because let’s be honest, even non-cyclists love the month long real-life-drama that is Le Tour! This year we’ll be shouting for our two Jozi local South African riders; Daryl Impey (Mitchelton – Scott) and Ryan Gibbons (NTT Pro Cycling Team).
Daryl grew up in Alberton, under the watchful eye of his father Tony Impey, a local cycling legend in his own right – do you know Tony Impey Cycles in Bedfordview? Daryl is an all-rounder; he generally comes to the fore on tough uphill sprints, a trait that earned him his first TDF stage win last year.
Just to give you an idea of his track record, he has been the national Time Trial Champion for the last 8 years in a row, in the same time he was on the podium for the Road Race 4 times including 2 wins.
Ryan is the current Road Racing National Champion of South Africa and fresh off winning the first stage of the first ever virtual Tour de France (July 2020). Ryan is a punchy rider known for his strength in stage races, a key reason for his selection according to his team principal Douglas Ryder.
A full 10 years Daryl’s junior, he is clearly barking up the same tree; Ryan managed to steal Impey’s National Champion title in February this year, in addition to two golds and a silver at last year’s African Continental Championships.
5 Stretches EVERYONE Can and Should Do!
Has spring got you feeling like you should get back into the swing of it? Good!
Before you jump into it and zoom off, remember that stretching matters, and so does the warm-up! To combat tightness and pain, it’s important to maintain a consistent stretching routine that focuses on the muscle groups that contract concentrically (shorten) during exercise and can limit the mobility of your joints.
Try these stretches out (thanks to Bicycling.com for the images + knowledge):
Thoracic Mobility Stretch:
How to do it: Kneel down on both knees in front of a stable surface, such as a chair or bench. Place hands in a prayer position and raise both arms until elbows are parallel to ears. Bend at the waist to place elbows on the surface while keeping them bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping the neck in a neutral position, drop the chest towards the floor to create an extension in the mid-back and stretch the lats.
Why it’s important: Hunching over handlebars, whether you’re on the hoods or in the drops, can cause tightness in your mid-back (thoracic spine).
Neck/Upper Trap Stretch:
How to do it: Sit on a chair or bench, so that you can maintain a 90-degree bend in the hips and the knees. Pull the shoulders slightly back to sit up tall and anchor left hand under the chair or hook it under the thigh. Lean your trunk away from the left hand to create a stretch in the top of the arm. Tilt head away from the left arm to feel the stretch along your neck. To deepen the stretch, gently place the right hand on the side of the head above your ear to bend the head a little bit further to the side. Repeat on the other side.
Why it’s important: Many cyclists complain of numbness in the fingers, it could also be coming from entrapment of the nerves in the neck.
Updog (Lumbar Mobilization Stretch)
How to do it: Lie facedown on the floor. Bend your elbows to place your palms flat on the floor beside your ribs. Press firmly into palms and straighten arms, lifting torso, hips, and the tops of thighs up off the ground. Hold for a few breaths before lowering back down.
Why it’s important: The ‘upward dog’ yoga position counters the forward-bent cycling position, working to release the low back and stretch the ‘front body’, i.e. the abdominals, tops of the thighs, and hip flexors.
Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch
How to do it: Place a mat or cushion on the ground about a foot in front of a bench, low chair, or box. Place the left knee onto the support cushion and step the right foot forward so leg forms a 90-degree knee angle. The left leg should bend so the foot balances on a chair or bench. To enhance the stretch, slowly push the front of the hips forward slightly. Repeat on the opposite side.
Why it’s important: Cycling is a power sport, and a lot of that power comes from your legs. To fully tap into that power, you need to have mobility in your hip flexors.
How to do it: Find a stable, elevated surface like a step or box. Place the left leg turned out onto the table so shin is parallel to edge of step, and slide right leg straight back behind you. Keeping your right leg straight and your back aligned, gently lean your trunk over the leg on the table. Keeping the trunk straight is the key—if your spine rounds, you won’t isolate the piriformis. Use your fingertips for support as needed.
Why it’s important: The piriformis muscle is a deep external rotator muscle of the hip; when it’s overused, it can become tight and can cause similar symptoms to sciatica.