When I’m out on a long motorcycle ride, after a couple hours, my body starts to stiffen up and sometimes the aches and pains build up. But I don’t always want to stop and take a break. So, I’ve figured out ways to stretch out and get the blood flowing while I’m still in motion.
So, how do you stretch while riding a motorcycle? To stretch out your legs you can stand up or rest your leg on a highway peg. You can stretch your arms and shoulders one at a time. You can stretch your back by twisting. In this article I go into more detail about stretches that can be done while the motorcycle is in motion.
Before you read on, I feel it’s the responsible thing to do to tell you to be careful. These stretches require you to move around and ride with one hand, etc. So, do it at your own risk, and always keep your eyes on the road.
Also, doing a set of stretches before you get on your bike will help keep the aches and pains away for a while. Stretch out every time you stop for gas, for a snack, for sight seeing or for a break. But, you can also stretch while you’re riding.
3 Ways to Stretch Your Legs
Depending on what kind of motorcycle you ride, staying in a riding position for long periods of time can cramp up the legs. This is particularly true on sport bikes, or smaller bikes. There are two main areas of the legs that usually cause problems; the knees and the hips. So, let’s explore different ways to get blood flowing through these stiff joints.
1. Stand Up
One of the easiest ways to stretch out your legs is to stand up. Standing requires a little bit of practice, but it’s pretty easy to do. Not all motorcycles allow the rider to stand on the pegs, and some of my cruiser riding friends have a hard time doing it. But, on any standard bike, sport bike, or dual sport, it can be done.
To stand up, start by placing your feet firmly on the pegs to make sure you have a secure platform. Lean forward until you feel your weight balanced over the pegs. Then, keeping your hands steady on the handlebars, push yourself to a stand. Keep a light grip on the handlebars and keep your weight even on both foot pegs.
If you place a little bit of pressure on one foot peg, you’ll notice that it causes the bike to lean and go in that direction. This is a common steering technique for dirt bike riding, and you an use it to keep the bike going in the right direction.
To add some extra stretching while standing, bend your knees slightly and ride for awhile with your quads engaged, like a racehorse jockey. This will get blood flowing into your muscles and knees.
Next, straighten your legs and lean your hips forward as much as you can. This will stretch out the hip flexors. Don’t forget to give your glutes a good squeeze to keep your tooshie from going numb.
If you’ve never ridden while standing up, start by trying it on a long piece of straight highway with little to no traffic. As you get more comfortable with it, you can stand while riding the twisties. Use your foot pegs to initiate a turn and let you bike flow through it. Sitting back down is easy. Just sit. Simple as that.
2. Highway pegs
Installing additional footpegs on the front of your motorcycle allows you to stretch out a leg, like a recliner for your motorcycle. The pegs can be installed on the bike’s frame, or on the engine guard. The ideal position is far enough away so that you can rest the heel of your boot on the peg. But, any change of position will be beneficial.
Highway pegs come in a lot of styles and sizes. Some fold up and some don’t and they are much more popular on cruisers and touring bikes, but you can easily install them on sport bikes too. If you ride cruiser with foot plates or floor boards, they sell a heel hooker that attach to the front of your floor board allowing you to hook your heal and stretch your leg.
3. Rest your Leg on the Passenger Foot Pegs
Standing and highway pegs will help stretch your knees, but sometimes your hips need a little extra stretching. That’s where your rear foot pegs come in handy. This method is not going to work on every motorcycle, but I’ve done it on all three motorcycles I’ve owned, SV650, Yamaha FJ1100, and I do it on my CB500X. Also, saddle bags can get in the way so this method is not 100% perfect on every bike. But, if you can do it, the stretch in the hip flexors feels great.
To get your foot on the rear peg, I suggest doing one leg at a time to maintain good control over the bike. Do it on a stretch of highway where you don’t have to shift or maneuver around. Make sure your rear pegs are down before you leave, because it’s not easy, and it’s dangerous, to try and reach back to lower the pegs. Scoot back in the saddle, lean forward and swing your foot back and up until it hooks onto the peg. You have to do this blind so it may take a few tries to get your foot up there.
When you do, your leg will be bent and you’ll get a good stretch in your thigh. To increase the stretch, roll your hip forward and you should feel it more in your hip flexors. Repeat the stretch on the other leg.
How to Stretch Your Arms and Shoulders
While riding, your arms are in one position for long periods of time. This can cause a lack of blood flow into your hands and sometimes you’ll experience numbness in your hands or fingers. A forward riding position will also put pressure on your wrists and shoulders. So, how do you keep the blood flowing? Here are a few stretches you can do for your arms and shoulders.
- Ride with one hand for a while. We’ve all seen the sport bike riders do this. It’s a cool, chill way to ride and let that arm relax a bit. Just rest it on your thigh for a while. Ok, it’s not just sport bike riders, we all do it.
- Get a throttle lock so you can relax your right arm too. A throttle lock is designed to prevent your throttle from snapping back. It is not the same as cruise control. It’s really convenient for resting your throttle hand for a minute or two. Use it only for short periods of time and when traffic is light as it will greatly reduce your reaction time if you have to stop quickly.
- Stretch your shoulder by placing your arm behind your back and press it against the small of your back. At the same time, pull your shoulder blade down and your shoulder back. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder muscles and a slight stretch in your upper chest. Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute. Do the same on with the other arm if you have a throttle lock.
- Another way to stretch your shoulders is to extend your arm and rotate it in a windmill fashion. Yeah, you’re going to look like a dork and you might get some looks, but who cares. This will get blood flow into your rotator cuff and to all the connecting tissues in your shoulder joints as well as all those little muscles that stabilize your shoulder. Do 5 or 6 rotations in both directions, in both arms. You really need a throttle lock. I recommend this one on Amazon.
How to Stretch Your Back
Stretching your back while in motion is a little more difficult and you won’t get as good a stretch as you will off the bike. But, there are still a couple things you can do that will make your back oh so good.
A wonderful way to stretch your back and spine is to do a common yoga pose called cat-cow. Usually this pose is done on your hands and knees, but you’re going to do a sitting variation of it while on the bike, of course.
Here are the step to take for your cat-cow pose while on the bike, zooming down the freeway. If you’ve ever done yoga, you’ll know that tilting your head up and down is an integral part of these poses, but, while on your motorcycle, you’re going to have to keep your head upright and eyes on the road.
- Start in an upright position, back straight, hands relaxed on the handlebars and feet firmly on the foot pegs. Take a deep breath in.
- Move into the cow position first. While exhaling, roll your shoulders up, back and around, then, with your shoulders down, arch your back as much as possible, allowing the top of your pelvis to roll forward, and press your chest forward. Hold this pose for about 10 seconds. That’s a lot of steps, but it should be one fluid motion. Practice while your bike is parked in the garage. You’ll feel it.
- Move into the cat pose. This one feels really good. Take a deep breath in. Then, while you exhale, in one fluid motion, allow your shoulders to move forward and your chest to collapse. Push your navel back, into your spin and push your tailbone forward. Feel your spine stretch. If you feel some cracking and popping in your back, you’re doing it right.
- Relax and return to an upright riding position and take a couple of deep cleaning breaths. You can repeat these poses a couple of times. The combination of the breathing and stretching really helps reduce rider fatigue.
There is one more stretch for the back that you can do, but it’s a little more dangerous as it involves twisting, so be extra cautious when doing these.
- We’ll call this one the shoulder twist for lack of a better name. Starting in a relaxed riding position, lean slightly forward and drop one shoulder down and to the inside twisting the back slightly. Repeat this motion on the other side. Do this three or four times on each side to stretch the back and shoulders.
- For this one, you’ll be reaching back with one hand. Start in a relaxed riding position, take your left hand and reach way back, twisting your back as your reach. Remember to keep your eyes forward because you’re still in motion. Try to twist your lower back as much as possible without upsetting your riding. Repeat this motion on the other side.
I realize that through these exercises you’re not going to get as good a stretch as you would when you’re off the bike, but, they can bring you a lot of relief to your aching bones when you’re on the road and in between stops.