Best Physical Therapy Exercises for Cyclists

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Best Physical Therapy Exercises for Cyclists

May is National Bike Month! Biking has so many wonderful benefits for you. In honor of National Bike Month, we thought we would share the best physical therapy exercises, stretches, warm-ups, and more to keep cyclists safe and biking fun! 

Please note: you should always work with your doctor or physical therapist to find the best exercises for your specific needs. After getting the okay, try these easy stretches and warmups! 

What to Target  

To understand what to stretch before and after your bike ride, you must know which muscles you are targeting during your workout.  

  • Calf Muscles – Soleus and Gastrocnemius 

  • Thighs – Hamstrings and Quadriceps 

  • Gluts and Buttocks – Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus 

  • Arms – Biceps and Triceps 

  • Shoulders – Deltoids  

  • Feet – Plantar Flexors and Dorsiflexors 


Before you enjoy your bike ride, it is essential to prepare your body. Here are some essential warm-up exercises for cyclists:  

Leg Swings 

Incorporate some leg swings before your bike ride to loosen your legs, thigh, groin, and hips. Stand with your bike to one side, holding the seat for stability. Swing your leg forward and backward, keeping it straight. Repeat this exercise 10 times then switch to the other leg.  

Cat-Cow Stretch 

Your glutes give you power as you ride and your back holds you up, so it is important to warm them up before you ride. Get on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and knees underneath your hips. Slowly arch your back and let your stomach move towards the floor as you inhale, your shoulders and hips will rise. Hold, then reverse to an exhale tucking in your pelvis and rounding your spine. Do cat-cow for a few minutes until you feel loosened up.  

Heel-Toe Walk 

Cycling is very tough on your calves, so giving them a good warm-up beforehand can help reduce tightness after your ride. This exercise is also great for getting your ankles loosened up. Step forward and land on your right heel. Remain on your heel and slowly lean your torso forward over your right leg. Next, raise your torso up and transfer your weight to the ball of your right foot; rise up as high as you can before lowering and stepping forward with your left leg. Continue this walk for a few minutes.  

Shoulder and Chest Stretches  

Your back and shoulders can typically be sore after a bike ride, so loosening them up before can help reduce soreness or pain. For a quick and easy shoulder exercise, raise your shoulders up towards your ears and down then repeat. You can also roll them forward and backward for an additional stretch. 

As for your chest, face the side of your bike with your feet hip-distance apart. Grab the seat and lean forward so your back is parallel to the ground. Press down and hold for 3 seconds. Stand up and continue to repeat.  


Stretching post bike ride is just as important as warming up. You can repeat stretches from the pre-ride list for a post-ride stretch as well. Here are a few post-ride specific exercises for cyclists:  

Hip Flexor and Hamstring Stretches 

Stretch your hip flexor by placing one knee on the floor and placing the other foot in front of you to make a 90-degree angle at the hip and knee. Tilt your pelvis up towards your ribcage on the side where the knee is on the floor, squeeze your glute muscles and slowly push the hip on the kneeling leg further forward to increase the stretch sensation.  

To target your hamstrings, begin by half kneeling with one leg in front with a relaxed bend at the knee, sitting back towards your heel, and slowly straightening the knee. Keep your chest upright and push it forward to increase the stretch. 

Glute Stretch  

Stretch out those glute muscles by kneeling on all fours. Cross one leg in front of you so your foot is just in front of your opposite knee. Sit back towards the floor and slowly increase the stretch around the outside of the front hip/glutes. 

Lower Back Rotation 

Lay on your back and have your knees bent with your feet on the floor, your arms will be flat on the floor. Cross one leg over the other. Breathe in and out, as you breathe out allow your legs lower to the floor in the direction that the top leg is crossed over. Repeat the sequence.  

Standing Quad Stretch  

Lift your right leg and grab your right foot in your right hand. Move your heel to your gluteus maximus. Bring your knees together and pointed to the ground and push the hip of your bent leg forward.  

Don’t let aches and pains keep you from enjoying your bike ride, especially during National Bike Month! Try out these pre- and post-ride exercises to aid in mobility and your recovery between rides. Happy National Bike Month to all of the cyclists out there!