While all that spinning is amazing for your ability to say, “NO, I’LL TAKE THE SMALLER SIZE” as loudly as you can while shopping, it can also lead to tight leg muscles, achy legs, and stiff shoulders — and a less-than-sparkling personality the next day when the soreness kicks in. You know, when you have to take the stairs.
We figured, hey, why not ask the people who have to take three to five classes a day for a living how they stay limber and loose? Take heed of these amazing stretches from top spin instructors to improve recovery and avoid injury:
Lauren Bruker, SoulCycle Instructor
Favorite stretch: Yoga Pigeon Stretch
Targets: Inner thighs, psoas (hip flexor) and the piraformis (deep gluteus muscle), as well as opens the chest, shoulders, and neck
How to Do It: This can be done on and/or off the bike. If you’re on the bike, start by unclipping one leg and bending your knee at the bottom part of the handle bars so it’s horizontal to the front of your body. Bow over your bent leg so you can feel the stretch, keeping your opposite leg straight and stable. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. If you’re on the floor, just mimic the moves above, but start on your stomach on the floor. If you have the time, treat yourself to one minute for each side. Your body will thank you!
Wil Ashley, cycling instructor at Equinox
Favorite stretch: Using a foam roller
Targets: Tight back muscles
How to do it: Place the foam roller on the floor right at your lower back (make sure your butt is touching the floor the whole time). Then, place your hands behind your head while arching your back over the foam roller while laying on the floor. After about 10 seconds, slide the foam roller up one vertebrae at a time, repeating the stretch until you hit your mid-shoulder. Repeat.
Photo: Courtesy of Stella McCartney for Adidas
Kate Hickl, Master Instructor and Head of Talent Development & Recruiting at Flywheel, New York, NY
Favorite Stretches: Low Runners Lunge, Reclined Figure-4, Eagle Arms
Low runners lunge
Targets: Hip flexors, inner thigh and calf muscles
How to Do It: Starting with both feet together, bend your knees and take a large step back with your right foot. Keep your left knee bent and tracking right above the left ankle, with your fingertips inline and on either side of the left foot. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds, drop the back knee down to rest, then repeat. Switch legs and repeat sequence on the other side.
Targets: Outer Hip
How to Do It: Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest. Rotate your right knee out to the side and let the outer edge of your right ankle rest just above the left knee cap (the left knee is still bent and your shin is parallel to the floor). Thread your right hand through the triangle shape (the figure-4) you’ve just created, then interlace your fingertips to hold just under the left knee crease. Work to keep your tailbone flat on the floor and your right knee moving away from your face. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds, rest for a few seconds, and repeat. Switch legs and repeat the sequence on the other side.
Eagle Arms Targets: Upper back, shoulders, the outer portion of your upper arms
How to Do It: Find a comfortable seated position. Stretch your arms straight out to your sides in a T-shaped position so your armpits are parallel to the floor. Bring your straight arms in front of you, then wrap your right arm underneath your left arm; work to have your right fingertips resting in palm of the left hand (elbows should rest on one another). Hold for 15-20 seconds, briefly rest, repeat. Switch arms and repeat the sequence on the other side.
Nadia Zaki, yoga and cycling instructor at Equinox
Favorite stretches: Downward Dog Variation
Targets: Tight hamstrings, backs, calf muscles
How to do it: Go into downward-facing dog: Start with your hands and knees on the floor, with palms flat on the mat slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips. Turn your palms in slightly and turn your toes toward the floor. Exhale and lift your midsection so your knees are off the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from your pelvis and extend the spine toward the back of the room. Breathe into the stretch, working your heels toward the floor and continuing to gently lengthen your spine. Bend one leg for a hamstring stretch, hold for 10 to 30 seconds (depending on your flexibility and level of comfort), then repeat on the other side. You can also bend both legs in the position for a deeper stretch on both legs simultaneously.
We’re excited to try these stretches so we can stop doubling over after double spin class (yes, we get carried away sometimes). Join us in these newfound ways to keep our legs from buckling on the way to the shower the next morning, won’t you?
Photo: Courtesy of Stella McCartney for Adidas