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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman



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More Training Info > Lower Back Stretches

Lower Back Stretches

We recently received a request by a reader to suggest some good cycling and mountain biking stretches, and we thought immediately of all of our subscribers who would benefit from some of the same lower back stretches appropriate for cycling and biking. The four stretches discussed below are just as beneficial for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting, or for people who end up on their feet most of the day. If you spend several hours at a stretch on your bike, you may notice that your lower back gets very tired and stiff from being crouched over your handlebars. Include the following stretches after your longer rides and a few times the following day, and be sure to include some lower back strengthening exercises to increase both strength and endurance for longer rides.

Prone Cobra

Prone Cobra

This stretch requires no equipment other than a mat. Lie flat on your stomach with your hands directly below your shoulders as though you were preparing to do a pushup. Keep your hips on the mat and slowly extend your arms, pressing your torso off the floor, until you feel a good stretch along the front of your body. Focus on remaining extended out from the hips in order to prevent hyperextension of the lower back. If you feel any discomfort or pinching sensations, shorten your range of motion or discontinue the stretch. You can also stretch one side at a time by gently rotating your torso, walking one hand a little farther forward than the other and then repeating on the opposite side. This effectively counters the “crouched” position of biking and helps to open up the front of the body, including abdomen and chest.


Band Cat Traction

Band Cat Traction

To prepare for this exercise, sit on a bench and loop a sturdy JumpStretch Band (see www.jumpstretch.com for ordering information) around one knee and then take the free end behind your back until you can pull the opposite loop around the other knee. Keep the band in position, and kneel on the floor in a quadruped or “cat” position with hands under shoulders and knees directly below the hips. Exhale and round your back, then slowly inhale and lower the belly button until you feel a good stretch provided by both the band and gravity. This stretch feels especially good after heavy core or leg strengthening workouts and after a day spent carrying a heavy pack, as well as long bike rides. To deepen the stretch to each side, walk the right hand forward and press your right hip and sides up, then repeat to the left side.


Hug A Tree

Hug A Tree

One of the easiest and most fundamental stretches to perform, just about anywhere, is this stretch for the upper and middle back, shoulders, hamstrings and arms. Stand a few feet away from a small tree or a vertical pole and wrap your hands around it a little below shoulder level. Lean back with straight arms and legs until you feel a good pull all along the back of your body. To focus on one side at a time, simply hold on with your right arm and twist slightly inward toward the right shoulder, then repeat to the other side. Position your hands at different levels to target various parts of your back.


Standing Torso Rotation

Standing Torso Rotation

This lower back stretch is as easy to perform indoors as it is outdoors. Place your right foot flat on top of a 10-13” bench, step, log or rock. Extend up and out from the spine as though someone is gently pulling you skyward with a cord. Place your left hand on the outside of the right knee and gently rotate your torso toward the right leg, using that left hand for leverage. Reach the right hand behind you and look at it, thumb up, palm forward, in order to increase the stretch. Repeat to the other side.

Hold each stretch a minimum of 20-30 seconds, and repeat as often as you like throughout the day. If you plan to take the stretch to its maximum, be sure you have included a gentle warmup such as 5 minutes of biking or walking, and include each of the stretches after each cardiovascular workout for most benefit. Enjoy!



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