Reverse Shoulder Shrugs
Reverse shoulder shrugs help counter the effects of inadequate circulation to your neck and upper back muscles during sustained contractions, which occur when riding a bicycle. To perform reverse shoulder shrugs, stand or sit up straight and keep your head in a neutral position. In one smooth, evenly-paced motion, lift both of your shoulders toward your ears, then roll your shoulders backward and down as your shoulder blades squeeze together. This exercise helps extend your upper spine and open up your chest. You should feel a gentle stretch in your chest and shoulder muscles. Perform 20 reverse shoulder shrugs before and after your bicycle ride.
Slow, controlled neck stretching is another constructive way to reduce your neck and shoulder muscle tightness and prevent cycling-related discomfort or pain. Keeping your neck, upper back and shoulder muscles loose and limber will improve your posture both on and off your bike. To stretch your neck, sit on the edge of a chair and gently lower your left ear toward your left shoulder until you feel a light stretch on the right side of your neck and the top of your right shoulder. Enhance this stretch by reaching over your head with your left arm and putting gentle pressure against your right temple using the fingers of your left hand. Don’t over-stretch your neck muscles, though; this could lead to a neck muscle strain. Hold your stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, feeling a gradual lengthening of your right-sided neck muscles. Return your head to the neutral position, then switch the directions and stretch your left-sided neck muscles. Perform your neck stretch before and after your bicycle ride.
Downward Facing Dog
Cyclists will be somewhat familiar with this yoga posture, due to the similar posture you adopt while riding. To do this pose, place your hands and knees on the floor, spreading your fingers apart as far as possible and distributing your weight evenly over your palms. Vertically align your knees with your hips, and set your hands about shoulder-width apart, just in front of your shoulders. While gently pushing into the floor with your hands, lift your knees and raise your hips toward the ceiling. Most people have a difficult time straightening their legs, but you can keep your knees bent and still derive benefits from this exercise, as it’s more about lengthening your spine than stretching your hamstrings. Keep your arms straight, the inside of your forearms turned up to face forward and your head between your arms. Your arms should be in line with your torso. Hold your stretch for one to three minutes, focusing on relaxing your upper-back muscles and lengthening each segment of your spine. Perform Downward-Facing Dog before and after your bicycle ride.