Training & Nutrition

Video: Neck Stretch for Cyclists (and people who work at desks)

We're bringing you 6 stretches, then 6 strengthening exercises. Here's stretch number four...

Cyclists are awesome – but we’ve got a few bad habits. Over-reliance on caffeine, and a magpie like eye for brightly colour socks and caps are two common vices.

One other bad habits cyclists often possess is a tendency to follow this pattern, day in, day out:

  • Cycle
  • Jump off bike, shower, eat
  • Sit down at a computer
  • Repeat

Leading busy lives, it can be easy to neglect one important stage that should come between getting off the bike and anything else: stretching.

When we combine the hunched forwards position of cycling, with the often hunched stance we take during other activities, we can quickly develop sore shoulders, necks and backs.

Allowing bad habits to continue can lead to all manner of problems. Hunched shoulders can pull the mid and lower back out of line, causing rotation and pain down the legs as nerves become trapped – for example. The sort of discomfort you might experience when your neck and shoulders get tight will vary between individuals – but regardless, it’s bad news.

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The best way to avoid letting problems set in? Keep up with a regular stretching routine. It only needs to take ten minutes a day and could make all the difference.

To help you stretch correctly, without risking injury, we’ve teamed up with the experts at Velo Atelier to bring you six stretches. Each stretch is demonstrated by pilates instructor Dorte Jensen and her assistant. Though you may have seen them before, Dorte will show the correct way to complete the movement without causing injury by placing stress elsewhere.

Here are the exercises we’ve done, and have yet to cover…

We’ve already covered why it’s important to stretch your neck above – here’s how to do it…

How to Stretch and Release Muscles in Your Neck

  • Our stance on the bike, and often in life, causes us to push the chin forward, shortening muscles in the back of the neck and lengthening those at the front. We need to address this to stay balanced
  • Lie down on your back with a towel or pillow beneath your head – the towel should not be underneath your neck, so there is space between the floor and your neck
  • Let yourself relax so that your head is heavy on the pillow. Relax your jaw, and tuck your chin, giving you as many double chins as possible!
  • Then go the opposite way – looking behind you
  • Repeat 2-3 times
  • Now it’s time to stretch the muscles either side of your neck. Start in a neutral position, and roll your head to the left, back, and to the right. Don’t push further than is comfortable and keep the head heavy
  • Repeat – see if you can go a little bit further each time, but don’t push further than is comfortable

About Velo Atelier and Dorte Jensen

TWC’s Michelle was fitted at Velo Atelier recently

The team at Velo Atelier offer ‘products for the discerning cyclist’ – they work with physiotherapists to provide clinical bike fitting, as well as coaching, saddle mapping, custom frame building, and pilates classes to name just a few.

Dorte Jensen is a level 3 pilates instructor with over five years experience. The stretches in our videos aren’t likely to be unknown to you, but she’ll demonstrate the correct way to carry them out and highlight common errors which can hamper the effects of the stretch.

You can see the first stretch in the series, the glute stretch, here and the quad stretch here. The next guide will be with you next week. 

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