Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (2022)

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Improve your mountain biking and minimize injuries with 3 of the best mountain biking stretches.

by Brad Walker | First Published June 5, 2010 | Updated May 7, 2019

Mountain biking (MTB) competitions began in the Netherlands and Belgium with races covering roads, worn paths and any paths with rough terrain.

Participants had to ride distances in laps ranging from 1.5 to 2 miles (2.5 to 3.5 kms) or more on areas at least 10 feet (3m) wide to encourage the racers to pass one another. There was little need to stop and carry the bikes over obstacles.

In the late 1970’s, more lightweight materials started getting used in mountain bikes. Soon, the sport too gained huge popularity.

(Video) How To Stretch For Mountain Biking | Mountain Bike Training

Mountain biking includes many variants such as cross country, trail riding, all mountain, downhill, free ride, urban riding, dirt jumping and trials during multiple terrains. It’s a workout that truly tests your endurance, core strengths and sense of adventure.

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (1)

Muscles used in Mountain Biking

Mountain biking over irregular terrain, ascents, descents and varying altitudes uses muscle groups from all over the body. The major muscles involved in mountain biking include:

  • The main muscle groups that are constantly worked in mountain biking are the quadriceps and the glutes. The quadriceps are located on the front of the thighs, while the glutes are the muscles that make up the buttocks.
  • Opposite of the quadriceps, on the back of the thighs, are the hamstrings. The hamstrings get an intense workout on the up-stroke of the pedal and when you stand up and pump the pedals during terrain ascents.
  • The calves on the back of the lower legs get worked when you are seated on the bike and pedalling. The more intense workout occurs when standing up on the pedals; the steeper the grade, the more intense the workout.
  • The core muscles that make up the lower abdominals, the upper abdominals, the obliques and the lower back are always being worked while the legs are in motion.
  • The arms and shoulders are used to support the upper body when leaning forward on the bike, and include the deltoids, biceps and triceps, and the muscles of the hand, wrist and forearm.

Most Common Mountain Biking Injuries

The most common injuries associated with mountain biking are abrasions, scrapes, cuts and bruises, however some more serious injuries can include:

  • Concussion, fractures (commonly the clavicle or collarbone and the wrist) and spinal injuries, which are usually the result of falls from the bike;
  • Lower back pain;
  • Forearm, wrist and hand injuries, including sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB);
  • Knee injuries, including Patellofemoral pain syndrome and Patellar tendinitis;
  • Achilles tendinitis; and
  • Plantar fasciitis.

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (2)

(Video) Pre-Mountain Bike Ride Stretches | Follow Along With This Warm-Up At Home Before A Ride! MTB Fitness

Injury Prevention Strategies

While accidents and injuries are to be expected in mountain biking, there are a few effective injury preventive strategies that will help you cycle your way safely through the roughest terrain.

  • Warm up: It is crucial to have a regular warm up routine that prepares the body for the physically challenging demands of the activity. Warming up will gradually increase blood flow to the muscles in preparation for more intense activity.
  • Cool down: Take time after your ride to cool down and stretch. This will help to prevent stiff muscles and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) during the next 24 to 48 hours.
  • Cardiovascular conditioning: Aerobic training will prevent fatigue and other overuse injuries.
  • Strength training: Strength training leads to reduced potential for injury as it increases the strength of the muscles as well as that of the supporting joints and tendons.
  • Agility training: Agility training is particularly helpful to a mountain biker as it works to improve the ability of the body to quickly adapt to a change in direction, motion and velocity.
  • Flexibility training: Stiff joints and muscles will ultimately lead to injured joints and muscles so improving the flexibility of the body will also work to decrease the likelihood of injury.
  • Always Wear a Helmet: A good quality cycle helmet offers substantial protection and will minimize any head injury you may suffer.
  • Wear Adequate Protective Gear: Eye glasses made from polycarbonate material offers invaluable protection against dust, wind, sand, insects and stray branches. Elbow and knee pads help prevent traumatic injuries in the event of a fall. Cycling gloves significantly reduce superficial hand injuries in addition to providing insulation in cold weather.
  • Stay Hydrated: Stay well hydrated by drinking water every 15 minutes even if you do not feel thirsty. Dehydration leads to fatigue, nausea, and disorientation, all factors that can result in falls and spills.
  • Maintain your Bike: The importance of maintaining your bike cannot be emphasized enough. A mountain bike needs to be in impeccable condition if it is to carry you safely along often treacherous trails.
  • Bike Set-up: Proper positioning on the bike is essential for comfort and to ensure proficient and biomechanically correct pedaling. Ensure that your bike is the correct size and your saddle is set correctly.
  • Ride in a group: While mountain biking, it is important that you ride in a group, if possible, for reasons of general safety and so that assistance is readily and instantly available if you do get injured.

The 3 Best Mountain Biking Stretches

Mountain biking stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

Below are 3 of the best stretches for mountain biking; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.

Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (3)

Rotating Wrist and Forearm Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.

(Video) Quick Morning Stretches EVERY MOUNTAIN BIKER Should Do - Follow Along Routine For Your MTB Fitness

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (4)

Kneeling Upper Hip & Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (5)

Single Heel-drop Lower Calf and Achilles Stretch: Stand on a raised object or step and place the ball of one foot on the edge of the step. Bend your knee slightly and let your heel drop towards the ground.

Want more Mountain Biking Stretches?

While the recommendations on this page are a good place to start, you'll get a lot more benefit when you add the right stretches to your training program. With the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility you'll...

  • Do away with stiff, tight muscles and joints;
  • Improve your freedom of movement;
  • Get rid of injuries, aches and pains;
  • Improve your sporting performance; and
  • Take your flexibility to the next level.

You'll get 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretches for every major muscle groups in your body. The DVD includes 3 customized sets of stretches (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly.

Click here to improve your flexibility!

(Video) MTB Mobility: Follow-Along to become better RIDER
Research and References

Stretches for Mountain Biking (MTB) | The Best MTB Stretches (7)About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.

Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.

(Video) 15 Minute Post-Ride Mountain Bike Yoga Routine


How do you stretch mountain biking? ›

The lower back muscles. And the shoulders. The knick stretch that we're going to look into is for

Should you stretch before mountain biking? ›

Before a ride is not the best time to stretch: your muscles are cold, making them more susceptible to injury, plus static stretching (in which you hold a fixed position) can reduce power output for up to an hour. Instead, include some 'dynamic' stretching in your warm-up to prepare your muscles.

What are all the best stretches to do before a bike ride? ›

In between your buttock there repeat. Five times on the left-hand side and down. And then repeat

What is the most common MTB injury? ›

The Most Common Mountain Biking Injuries
  • Skin Abrasions. Skin abrasions basically mean cuts and grazes, or damage to the soft protective tissue in the top layers of skin. ...
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Sprain. ...
  • Knee/Lower Back Pain. ...
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. ...
  • Broken Collarbone.

Will mountain biking get me ripped? ›

In most cases mountain biking does not dramatically build upper body strength. While it is certainly a great all body fitness exercise, involving a large number of muscle groups to some degree, it is leg strength that benefits most in terms of muscle activation.

Is MTB good for core? ›

Mountain biking provides a full body workout. Both your abs and core need to be engaged in order to stabilize your body and remain in control of the bike. This applies most to situations where you are standing on the bike rather than sitting. If you're balancing, you're using your core muscles.

How should I warm up for mountain biking? ›

How To Warm Up Like A Pro – With Tahnée Seagrave | Mountain Bike ...

Is MTB good exercise? ›

Mountain biking uses large muscle groups that require a lot of oxygen. This makes the heart work steadily, increasing your heart's fitness by 3-7%. Mountain biking is a low impact sport, meaning it puts less stress on your joints than other aerobic activities such as running.

Should I foam roll before cycling? ›

Foam rolling for a few minutes before class should be O.K., but doing it every time after you ride would be ideal. Proceed with caution; doing it incorrectly can damage your tissues.

Should I stretch before or after bike ride? ›

First, hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds on each side, that's the minimum effective dose. And second, always stretch after your ride. Pre-exercise stretching won't improve your performance, and studies have shown that it may actually increase the chances of injury. Just warm up before and you're good to go.

Is mountain biking safer than road biking? ›

If you are cycling downhill, a mountain bike is more dangerous. But if the road you are taking is a simple terrain, a mountain bike is safer than a road bike because you will not have to ride with other vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and buses. Not to mention, but city road biking can be dangerous due to pedestrians.

How safe is MTB? ›

The injury rate is . 37 per 100 hours for cross-country mountain biking and is 4.34 per 100 hours for downhill mtb racing. This stat was calculated using data from 31 studies concerning injuries and mountain biking.

How can I ride my mountain bike without it hurting? ›

Top 10 Ways To Prevent Mountain Biking Injuries
  1. Pre-ride check. ...
  2. Warm-up and stretch. ...
  3. Wear a cycle helmet. ...
  4. Wear cycle glasses. ...
  5. Knee and elbow pads. ...
  6. Look after your knees. ...
  7. Carry out a 'recce' before a downhill section of biking. ...
  8. Avoid wrist and hand injuries.

Does MTB build arms? ›

Mountain biking uses a large number of muscle groups, including the core muscles, quads, calf muscles, buttocks, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, arms, and forearms. In fact, it really does offer a full-body workout. It uses more muscles than regular road biking due to the nature of the sport.

Does mountain biking burn belly fat? ›

Yes. Although your stomach muscles aren't working as hard as your quads or glutes when you're riding, but cycling's aerobic nature means you are burning fat.

Are mountain bikers strong? ›

Mountain bikers also use their core muscles and upper body muscles, like their arms, back, and shoulders, especially when descending hills or climbing particularly steep sections. Over time, mountain biking can lead to increased muscle strength and endurance.

Can you build muscle from mountain biking? ›

Mountain biking uses a large number of muscle groups, including the core muscles, quads, calf muscles, buttocks, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, arms, and forearms. In fact, it really does offer a full-body workout.

Is mountain biking better cardio or strength? ›

Mountain biking is an excellent form of cardio work-out. Although it may not feel like it as you're dying a death on the way up some godforsaken climb, biking gives your blood an increase in oxygen. Biking improves your blood vessels by dilating them and keeping them clear.

Is mountain biking good for your back? ›

Back Pain and Mountain Biking

It turns out, mountain biking inherently leads to a weak lower back and zero core strength. Don't blame the gear. Instead, focus MTB training efforts on strengthening your lower back and core.

Does mountain biking work your core? ›

Whole-body muscle work out

Of course, you'll be giving your upper and lower leg muscles a serious workout, but mountain biking will strengthen your whole body. As you tackle obstacles, you'll work your core muscles and arms too.


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