Compensation after a bike tour

Roman Koch 11. October 2022


If you spend a long time in the saddle and your body doesn’t entirely agree, the following exercises will help you get back on track.

This article is presented by Spiraldynamik

Neck or back pain, tense shoulders, or stiff wrists: After a long bike ride, your body can show signs of suffering from the strain. Since long-distance cycling is not ideal for your posture, compensatory exercises are necessary. Not only to relieve pain, but also to prepare your body for the exertions yet to come.

Wrist training


Protect your wrists by training your forearm muscles. The better they work, the more control you have over your positioning when leaning. Strong forearm muscles also help to support your wrists in everyday life. Here’s how to get your wrists fit:

Start: Sit on a chair or bench. Rest your forearm completely on your thigh but keep your wrist in the air. First start with the back of your forearm on your thigh. Then switch to the front of your forearm. Take a small weight in your hand and use your wrist to move it up and down.

Dosage: 3 sets of 15 repetitions per side.

Take note: Align your hand more towards the thumb side. Perform the movement slowly and in a controlled manner. Don't let the weight fall down in the end position.

Variation: Hold your forearm in the air at a 90° angle to your upper arm and do the same movement but now without the thigh as a support surface.

Elbow and shoulder training


Your elbows need to practice the slightly bent position off the bike first. While the slightly bent position places your elbow joint under the least strain, it costs you the most energy. Make sure your shoulders don’t rise up. You now have to internalise this posture and train it under greater stress so that you automatically adopt it when cycling and can sustain this position for longer. Make your support position stronger and more steadfast as follows:

Start: Adopt the quadruped stance next to a mirror. Keep your back straight and your neck in line with your back. Bend your elbows and slightly rotate them outwards. Drop your shoulders slightly downwards and backwards away from your ears. Hold this position and then raise one arm to the side without moving the other.

Dosage: 2 sets of 20 repetitions, alternating left and right.

Take note: Keep your elbows in the slightly bent position. Make sure that your shoulder position doesn’t change. Keep the same head and back posture, too.

Variation: Do the same exercise in the push-up position. Extend your arm forwards and keep your supporting arm in the same position.

Neck training


The longer you cycle, the more your neck hurts. When cycling for a long period of time, the position of your head makes the posterior neck muscles tense, shorter and painful. So you need to make your neck muscles long and supple again. The longer your neck, the more relaxed your muscles will be and the better able to compensate your position on the bike. You can relieve neck tension with the following compensatory exercise:

Start: Lay down on your back. Place your head on the floor or a pillow. Now rotate your head so that your chin is pointing down towards your sternum and the back of your head rotates upwards to lengthen your neck. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then rotate your head back to the starting position.

Dosage: 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Take note: Keep your shoulders in the same position. Make sure that they don’t get pulled upwards.

Variation: Raise your head a little (about 1 cm) off the ground and do the same exercise in the air. Your neck muscles now have to work even harder.

Thoracic spine training


After a long bike trip, your thoracic spine needs more movement again. Keeping a bent posture for an extended period of time along with a lack of rotation puts a strain on your back. You need to compensate this by stretching and rotating the thoracic spine. The more flexible your core is, the easier it is to achieve the right cycling posture. Make your thoracic spine stronger and more flexible with the following exercise:

Start: Adopt the quadruped stance next to a mirror. Keep your back straight and your neck in line with your back. Put one hand on the back of your neck. Now rotate your sternum towards the side of your bent arm and the ceiling as far as you can. Then rotate back to the starting position.

Dosage: 2 sets of 15 repetitions per side.

Take note: Keep your pelvis and lower back in the same position. Your hand should continue to keep your neck in a neutral position. Keep your supporting elbow in its slightly bent position. Keep your supporting shoulder away from your ear.

Variation: Instead of putting your hand on your neck, stretch it towards the ceiling as you rotate. When rotating back, continue rotating to the other side by stretching your arm between your supporting hand and knee.