Looking to add some effective stretches to your routine? Stretching the gluteal muscle complex allows for greater flexibility of the hip area, a common area of soreness and tightness for cyclist and runners. This progression of stretches is a fluid and easy one that you can include consistently in your stretching routine.
Electromyographic studies of cyclists in movement show the muscles of the gluteal muscle complex are recruited during each pedal stroke. This constant contraction leads to a shortening and tightening of these muscles and potential muscle imbalances. Stretching them allows for greater flexibility of the hip and greater power stroke.
Secondary Target Muscle Group: Piriformis and some of the hip external rotator muscle group.
Note: Each stretch here should be considered a series of interconnected poses that flow from one pose to another. Each pose should be held for about 15 seconds while breathing normally. The entire series can be repeated, or individual poses can be repeated several times before moving on to the next pose. These stretches can be done in sequence per side or alternating one pose for both left and right sides. Stretches should be completed 3 days per week. After about 6 weeks you should notice increased flexibility in your buttocks and hips which assist with reduction of muscle imbalances and greater force while pedaling.
GLUTEAL STRETCH SERIES
1. Bent Knee Gluteal Stretch
Start by lying on your back in a relaxed state. Lift one leg, knee bent towards your chest. Using your hands gently pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder until you feel a stretch in the buttock. Stretch should be a mild to moderate, pain free, pull. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat for the other leg or move to next pose. Over time the muscle group will start to become more flexible, and stretch time and frequency can be extended. Complete exercise 3 days per week.After a few weeks of completing this exercise, try this: while you are pulling on your leg, just relax and take in a deep breath. Exhale and contract the buttock muscle for 10 seconds, then relax and continue gentle pulling of your leg towards your shoulder. You should be able create a deeper stretch. This should be a gentle pull, where you feel the stretch but not pain. This technique can be applied to any pose for additional stretch.
2. Sitting Gluteal Stretch Start by sitting on the floor with both legs out in front of you. Lift one leg with the knee bent as close to your chest as possible, while trying to keep your back straight. Take the bent leg and cross over the straight leg. Keeping your back straight, pull the bent leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch in the buttock. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat with the other leg or move to next pose. Over time the muscle group will become more flexible and frequency and time can be extended.
3. Gluteal Twist
From the Sitting Gluteal Stretch pose, twist slowly in the direction of the bent leg. Keep your shoulder and chest out and spine straight. Place hand of bent leg on the floor and behind you for stability and look over your shoulder. Place arm of your straight leg over the bent knee and gently pull towards your body. Hold stretch for 15 seconds while breathing normally. Release from pose and repeat or move to next pose. This provides the additional benefit of stretching the back muscles.
4. Thread the Needle Gluteal StretchWhile lying down and both knees bent, take one leg and cross over the other leg at the ankle. Place hand through opening between your bent and crossed leg. Take both hands and grasp your bent leg at the knee. If you are unable to do this, grasp behind the bent leg. Pull leg toward your torso while keeping your back flat on the floor. Hold stretch for 15 seconds. Switch legs and repeat or move to next pose.
5. Pigeon Pose While on all fours, place your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Bring your left knee forward until it touches your left wrist and parallel to the edge of your mat. Gently move your left foot toward the midline of your body. Your left leg will be crossed under your body with the ultimate goal of placing your left foot below your right hip. Now straighten your right leg towards the back of your mat. While keeping pelvis straight, lower your arms and rest on your elbows while extending your hands to the floor. You can increase the stretch by lowering your chest to the floor. You will feel a stretch on your left buttock. Hold pose for 15 seconds and repeat on the other leg or move to Bent Knee pose on the opposite leg. Extend the time you can hold the pose for up to 60 seconds.
This stretching series was put together by Coach John Hall and John A. Andrew DPT &Cert. MDT, CSCS with 18 years of experience in strength and conditioning. Andrew Physical Therapy, McMinnville, OR, 503-435-1900.
Wenzel Coaching provides quality, affordable coaching services to cyclists and multisport athletes of all ages and abilities. The coaches of Wenzel Coaching can be reached at 503-233-4346 or www.wenzelcoaching.com.