Dossier: Exercise videos

Stretches for mountain bikers

"Mountain bikers aren't keen on stretching," says bike expert Nathalie Schneitter. Should bikers stretch and which exercises are best? Answers and five tips from a professional.

Text: Julie Freudiger, video: Simon Keller

To stretch or not to stretch? Many mountain bikers don’t include stretching in their training plan. Some don’t have time for it, while others prefer not to or don’t think stretches do any good. Former cross-country athlete and reigning E-MTB World Champion Nathalie Schneitter candidly admits: “I really have to force myself to stretch.” One thing is clear: Stretching doesn’t help mountain bikers get faster. What’s more, opinion is divided as to whether stretching prevents muscle soreness or injury at all.

And yet there is a lot to be said for regular stretching. Stretching exercises help you to switch off and relax after a strenuous workout, and breathing deeply and calmly during the exercises supports this effect. Stretching exercises are also a good way of balancing the one-sided strain of mountain biking. Poor posture, muscle shortening and a muscular imbalance can cause pain. The calves, gluteal muscles and the entire thigh musculature, especially the hip flexors, are subjected to heavy strain. The neck is also under constant tension. Anyone who likes to ride downhill a lot will also feel their wrists and flexor muscles after training. Stretching is important in balancing this otherwise one-sided strain.

Nathalie Schneitter reveals her top 5 stretching exercises for mountain bikers:

Basic rules for stretching:

  1. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  2. Stretch for the same amount of time on both sides.
  3. Don’t stretch directly after a strenuous workout, but plan as a separate training session.

Nathalie Schneitter, mountain bike expert
The former professional mountain biker won the 2004 Cross-Country World Junior Championships, she competed in the Olympic Games in 2008 and came first at the 2010 World Cup in Champéry. Since her retirement in 2016, she has been working as a bike guide and helps organise the Swiss Bike Days and the Urban Bike Festival. In August 2019 she won the first-ever E-Mountain Bike World Championships.