Plummeting winter temperatures can leave bikers at greater risk of muscle soreness or injury while riding. Suzie Bostock explains a few simple exercises to help reduce this risk after you have done your usual warm-up.
We are at that time of year again when the days are shorter, temperatures have dropped, and some riders have parked their bikes up for winter. Saying that, many of us decide to ride our motorcycles year-round both on and off-road, and it’s important to reduce the risk of injury at this time of year.
A warm-up and stretch of key muscle groups can be useful for many riders, but make sure your muscles are warm before you start stretching. Therefore, spend a bit longer on your normal warm-up prior to stretching to ensure your muscles are ready.
Stretches should not be painful so do not persevere with any that cause pain and never push through the pain. If stretches cause unwanted symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or shooting pain, stop immediately.
With this in mind, here are a few basic static stretches to get you started (hold for 20-30 seconds, at two to four repetitions each).
Keep your head facing forwards and take your head over to one side (ear towards shoulder). You can then use your hand to assist the movement and increase the stretch if comfortable.
Stand next to a door frame, edge of a wall etc. Taking the arm you need to stretch upto about 90 degrees, place your forearm against the wall. Keeping your arm in place, gently rotate your body away from the arm until you feel a stretch in your chest and/or in the front of your shoulder.
Sit or stand. Keeping your forearm still, palm facing up towards the ceiling, bend your wrist back so that your hand moves downwards. You can then use your other hand to assist the movement and increase the stretch if comfortable. You can also stretch the other side by repeating the exercise but with your palm facing downwards.
Sit or stand. Bring one arm straight across in front of you and use your other hand to support the arm and draw it in closer to your upper chest.
Sit or stand. Rotate your upper body around as far as you can go, following the movement with your head. You can use your arms to increase the rotation if comfortable, using the arms of the chair or nearby firm object.
Sit on a chair. Let yourself slowly relax forwards, moving your hands towards the floor. Be careful if you suffer from blood pressure problems or back spasms.
Stand up straight. With hands on your hips, lean back as far as comfortable with the movement coming from your lower back, not just your upper back.
Hip flexor stretch
Stand holding something for support. Bring your heel towards your bottom and use the hand of the same side to grab your foot/ankle and hold it as close to your bottom as possible until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip/thigh. If you can’t reach your ankle then you can use a towel or belt to place around it to help bring it towards your bottom.
Sit on the edge of a chair safely. Keep one leg bent at 90 degrees and have the other one out straight with the heel resting on the floor. Lean forwards from the hips using your hands on your leg to support you, until you get a stretch in the back of your thigh. Alternatively, you can stand to do this if more suitable.
Stand facing a wall, worktop or solid object that you can place your hands on. Place one leg straight back behind you with your heel firmly on the floor and lean on your hands. Now let the front knee bend until you feel a stretch in your calf.
Remember, if you have an injury in the area you are stretching or pain, please consult a physiotherapist or doctor prior to undertaking any new stretches or exercises. You undertake stretches and exercises at your own risk.