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Exercises to Overcome Motorcycle Ride Stiffness

Exercises to Overcome Motorcycle Ride Stiffness

Riding a motorcycle is a rewarding experience, considering it kindles a spirit of adventure and exploration, allows riders to visit scenic locations that they might not be able to reach on a two-wheeler, and develops survival instincts necessary to enjoy the freedom of open roads. Most riders become so fond of their motorcycle that they equip them with premium motorcycle luggage bags and comfort-enhancing aftermarket travel-friendly accessories , such as ergonomically-designed handlebars , stylish sissy bars , plush seats , crash bars, fairing , luggage racks , and backrests , to use their motorcycles for long-distance interstate travels and even cross-country trips.

While fully-decked touring motorcycles are highly luxurious and comfortable, and custom touring accessories can enhance the touring comfort of any motorcycle, riding 500+ miles on a two-wheeler is bound to cause muscle stiffness and body aches. This is primarily because of wind exposure and maintaining a particular posture for long hours straight. Moreover, temperature fluctuations experienced on the road can also cause numbness in hands, tension in leg muscles, and a stiff back that takes a while to straighten.

As you get older, the muscle stiffness can compel you to replace your bike with a car for a more comfortable traveling experience. But if you want to continue riding even as you age, it is recommended that you perform different exercises, especially stretches, to increase muscle flexibility. You can incorporate these stretches during your motorcycle breaks and in your reset routine when you return from your trip. In this article, Viking Bags brings you easy-to-follow exercises to ensure you never have to give up motorcycling due to muscle weakness and stiffness. 

1. 15 Exercises to Relieve Motorcycle Ride Muscle Stiffness

15 Exercises to Relieve Motorcycle Ride Muscle Stiffness

After a long motorcycle ride, you may feel too exhausted to perform these simple exercises that will help you overcome muscle stiffness. If you are someone new to fitness and workout, then performing these stretches will feel even more challenging. However, if you want a speedy recovery from that severe back pain, leg muscle sprain, and numbness in your hands, you must push yourself to perform these stretches regularly.

All 15 stretching exercises mentioned in this article require no additional equipment and can be easily performed in the comfort of your home. All you need is a plush carpet or a yoga mat to get started. Riders can perform these different stretches one after the other to create a stretching routine or workout. Multiple reps of any two or three exercises mentioned below can also be incorporated before and after your gym workouts as warm-up and cool-down sessions. If you have any physical limitations or are on anti-inflammatory medication, please consult your healthcare provider before performing these exercises to prevent injury. 

1.1 Shoulder Stretch and Arm Circles

Shoulder Stretch and Arm Circles

Shoulder stretches and arm circles will help relieve stiffness in the deltoid muscles in the shoulders and the cuff muscles. To perform the shoulder stretch, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Next, raise your right arm to shoulder height and position it across your chest. Make sure you hold the arm straight. Place your other arm underneath the right elbow and gently pull your right arm towards yourself. You will feel your biceps and shoulder muscles stretching. Hold the pose for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the same with the other arm and alternate between the two arms about five more times or as many times as you want.

Once you are through with the reps, perform arm circles. You can perform arm circles in a standing position or while sitting on the mat with your toes and knees touching the ground (seiza pose or thunderbolt position). In either position, make sure your back is straight. Then lift both arms out to your sides. While keeping them straight, move both your arms simultaneously in forward circles about 5-10 times or more if you prefer. Afterwards, move your arms in backward circles still keeping them straight. Repeat forward and backward arm circles at least two times for five minutes. 

1.2 Wide Leg Seated Forward Bend

Wide Leg Seated Forward Bend

Wide leg seated forward bend, or Upavistha Konasana is a yoga pose that targets a group of muscles, including hamstrings, lower back muscles, calf muscles, adductors, and groin muscles. Therefore, this pose proves to be quite effective in relieving stiffness in your lower body. Start the stretch by sitting on the yoga mat with your legs stretched out to your sides. As you stretch your legs outward, do it slowly keeping your breathing even.

Next, sit up with your back straight, engage your core muscles, and press your heels firmly into the mat. This will provide support to your lower back muscles and help them hold you in this position. Slowly, bend forward at your hips, keeping your back straight. Also, spread your arms forward between your legs as far as you easily can. Try to grab your feet with your hands, but if the stretch puts too much strain on your muscles, then simply hold the position and breathe.

Keeping your neck straight but relaxed, hold the pose for at least 30-60 seconds. Afterward, lift your upper body slowly, straightening your back. As you move, you should feel your core muscles engaging to help you return to the starting position. You can choose to repeat the stretch or move on to the next exercise.

1.3 Side Stretch

Wide Leg Seated Forward Bend

Much like the wide leg seated forward bend, the side stretch targets different muscles, such as abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and upper back muscles. Side stretch is one of the most common exercises performed to overcome muscle stiffness in general. Riders can perform this exercise after the ride for quick muscle recovery and also do it during their time off the bike en route to prevent muscle stiffness. To perform this easy exercise, stand with your arms relaxed by your sides, back straight, and feet hip-width apart.

Lift one of your arms straight towards the ceiling with your hand placed securely on your hip. You will feel a stretch in many muscle groups, including the upper and lower back, arms, and abdomen. Make sure you breathe as you lift your arm upwards. Hold the position, and then slowly move your upper body to one side. If you have lifted your right arm first, lean your torso towards the left side and vice versa. As you bend your torso sideways, also move your arm sideways over your head. At the same time, move your other hand, which was resting on your hip, downwards. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Try to perform at least 10-15 reps of this exercise to notice a significant difference in muscle stiffness. While performing this exercise, be sure to breathe evenly and deeply. 

1.4 Neck Roll

Neck Roll

Neck rolls target neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles. To perform this exercise, make sure your back is straight, shoulders relaxed, and head facing straight. Before starting this stretch, try to feel tension in your trapezius muscles (the large muscle spanning your neck, back, and shoulders). Start with gently moving your head to your left. If you notice any pain in your neck, avoid performing this exercise. If the movement feels comfortable, continue rolling your head backward until you are facing the ceiling. Again, if you feel any discomfort halt the movement altogether.

Now gently, move your head towards the right; this movement will stretch all the stiff neck muscles on the other side from which you are moving away. Continue the neck roll by moving the neck from the right to the front. Keep your neck bent forward with your eyes looking at the ground. Once you have completed one neck roll, gently lift your head to the starting position with your eyes gazing forward. 

1.5 Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-Cow Pose

The cat-cow stretch is an easy and effective exercise that will help you overcome most of the body stiffness after a motorcycle ride. The cat-cow pose targets major muscle groups, including hip flexors, spinal erectors, upper and lower back muscles, abs, and trapezius. Yogis call the cat-cow pose, Chakravakasana. Start with the all-fours position by placing both your hands and knees on the yoga mat. Make sure to position your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your back relaxed but straight for a neutral spine.

Next, curl your toes and move your pelvis backward to adopt the cow pose. Afterward, position your feet flat on the mat, tip your pelvis, and round your back to get into the cat pose. Alternate between the two poses as you inhale and exhale. Repeat the stretch at least 10 times and then slowly come back to the starting position. 

1.6 Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

The Balasana also known as the resting pose or child’s pose targets hamstrings, gluteus medius, and spinal extensor muscles. This pose stretches various parts of the body and also feels quite relaxing when you perform it. The child pose exercise is low impact and should not cause any discomfort. If you feel any pain while adopting this position please refrain from pushing yourself and stop the exercise immediately.

Start by kneeling on the yoga mat with your feet tops touching the ground and your knees hip-width apart. Gently bend your upper body forward with your arms spreading out on the mat in front of you. Bend forward until your forehead is resting on the yoga mat and your chest is pressed against your thighs. Simultaneously, push your hips backward to elongate your body even more and stretch your muscles to release tension. Hold this position for at least 60 seconds and breathe deeply as you maintain the posture. To get back in the starting position, exhale slowly and lift your upper body back up until you are kneeling. Repeat if you find the stretch comfortable and relaxing. 

1.7 Legs Up the Wall Pose

Legs Up the Wall Pose

In the legs up a wall pose, you will effectively stretch your glutes, lower and middle back muscles, groin muscles, hip flexors, lats, shoulder muscles, trapezius, quadriceps, outer thigh muscles, and neck muscles. Hence, it is an effective pose if you are looking for a single exercise to relieve general body stiffness. To perform the legs up the wall pose or Viparita Karani, start with sitting on a yoga mat or directly on the floor facing a wall. Slowly lower your head and shoulders to the floor and lie down on your back. Next, stretch your legs vertically up against the wall, keeping your feet a comfortable distance apart.

Adjust your position, by moving your tailbone closer to the wall; however, your tailbone doesn't need to touch the wall. Try to stretch your arms out on your sides and relax. Hold this pose for 5-10 minutes and breathe deeply. To come back to the starting position, slightly bend your knees and roll to your side. Stay in this position for a few seconds, breathing deeply. Using your arms, push yourself in a sitting position. You can repeat this exercise or perform any other stretch mentioned in this list. 

1.8 Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Standing Quadriceps Stretch

By doing the quadricep stretch exercise, you will effectively relieve tension in your quadriceps, muscles located at the front of your thighs. There are several exercises through which you can stretch stiff quadriceps muscles. If you have hip or knee pain, please make sure to consult your healthcare provider before performing this stretch. To do this standing quadricep stretch, stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Move your weight onto one foot and bend your opposite knee. If you are shifting your weight onto your right, bend your left knee and vice versa. Try to touch your left heel to your buttocks. Hold your heel in place using your left hand and feel the stretch.

Beginners can also place a table in front of them for support. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds and breathe deeply and evenly as you focus to maintain posture. Release the pose, return to the starting position, and repeat the process with your other leg. Perform as many reps as you comfortably can; however, do not overdo it. 

1.9 Knees to Chest Back Stretch

Knees to Chest Back Stretch

The knees-to-chest back stretch targets different muscle groups, including quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, and gluteal muscles. The knees-to-chest back stretch is a low-impact, gentle exercise that almost anyone can perform. This painless exercise should not put any strain on your aching muscles, but if you experience any discomfort, return to the starting position slowly but immediately.

To perform this exercise, lie down on your back with your knees bent or straight and feet pointing upwards. Place your hands underneath your knees and slowly pull towards your chest. Press under your knees or thighs to feel a stretch. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch at least 10 times. This convenient exercise can be performed in bed, on the couch, floor rug, and if you have a picnic blanket with you, you can also perform it en route

1.10 Standing Lunge - Hip Flexor Stretch

Standing Lunge - Hip Flexor Stretch

Standing lunge or hip flexor stretch relieves stiffness in hip flexor muscles and also helps strengthen weak psoas muscles. While performing this exercise, you will also feel a stretch in your inner thigh and groin muscles. An easy exercise, this stretch can be performed during your breaks off the motorcycle, in the hotel room or a camping tent, and by the roadside as well.

To perform this exercise, stand in a comfortable position with your arms at your side. Place one foot forward and bend your knee at 90 degrees. Place your hand on the forward knee and extend your other leg straight behind you. As you bend your forward knee more and lower it to the ground, you will feel a stretch in your hip flexors and leg muscles. Maintain this posture for 60 seconds at least and then move to the other side. Repeat this stretch alternatively for at least 10 times or more. When performing this exercise, concentrate on keeping your balance. When it is your first time trying out this stretch, you can use a wall or a chair for support. 

1.11 Standing Calf Stretch

Standing Calf Stretch

As its name suggests, standing calf stretch helps with calf muscle stiffness. To perform this exercise, start with a comfortable standing position facing the wall, preferably with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your hands up to shoulder height and place them flat against the wall.

Take one step away from the wall, plant your feet firmly on the ground with your toes pointing towards the wall. Keep your front knee straight and shift all your body weight onto the back foot. Hold the stretch for 60 seconds, change the position of the legs, and repeat the steps. Perform this exercise as many times as you comfortably can. 

1.12 Seated Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring stretch is a simple exercise that can help relieve tension in your hamstring muscles. To perform this stretch, sit in a relaxed position on a yoga mat and place both legs out in front of you. Bend forward at your waist and extend your arms as far as they would comfortably go without bending your knees. Try to touch your toes, but if you cannot, then don’t push too hard as this stretch can put strain on your back muscles if you do not practice caution.

Maintain the posture for 30-60 seconds and then slowly straighten up to return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch as many times as you want to simply move on to another stretching exercise. 

1.13 Cobra Pose with Lifted Hips

The cobra pose also called Bhujangasana is a yoga pose that targets spinal erectors, quadriceps, obliques, abs, shoulder, and chest muscles. To perform this exercise, lie down flat on your stomach with your palms pressing firmly on the ground. For better alignment and posture, make sure that your hands come just under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and securely place your pubic bone on the yoga mat. Lift your chest away from the floor with your arms supporting your weight, legs straight, shoulders back, and ribs lower towards the ground.

Hold this posture for 60 seconds, if you want, you can also tilt your head backward to give your stiff neck a good stretch. Repeat the pose two or more times. 

1.14 Downward Dog

Downward Dog

The downward-facing dog or the Adho Mukha Svanasana helps relieve stiffness in your hamstrings, shoulders, back muscles, calves, spinal extensors, arms and upper body, and core muscles. In other words, the downward-facing dog is an excellent complete body stretching exercise that you can easily perform at the roadside, in a hotel room, or in your home.

To perform this exercise, get on all fours with your wrists in alignment with your shoulders and knees in alignment with your hips. Use your hands to push backward and lift your hips away from the ground. Also, straighten your legs and curl your toes simultaneously.

Try to push your shoulders back towards your hips and leave your head hanging in a neutral position. Use your quadricep muscles to relieve your arms from supporting your body weight. By doing this, you will immediately feel more relaxed and comfortable in this position.

As you hold position, keep your tailbone pointing upwards and heels pressing on the ground. To come back to the starting position after holding this position for 30-60 seconds, exhale and bend your knees gently. Repeat the stretch 2-3 times or perform any other stretch mentioned in this list. 

1.15 Spine Twist

Spine Twist

The spine or supine twist engages intercostal muscles, hip muscles, lower back muscles, spinal erectors, obliques, and paravertebral muscles. To perform the spinal twist, lie down on your back on a yoga mat with your legs extending out straight. Place your soles on the mat and bend your knees pointing upwards.

Press your feet into the ground to lift your hips and move them slightly towards your right. Bring your right knee closer to your chest and extend your other leg straight on the mat. Cross your right knee over your centerline or torso and place it on the floor to your left. If you want, you can extend both your arms out, away from your body to deepen the stretch. Alternatively, with one arm stretched out, place your left hand on the right knee and pull slightly to feel a stretch.

Perform the same steps with your left knee and right hand, keeping your breathing even. Hold the pose on each side for 30-60 seconds or at least 10 breaths. To return to the starting position, lift your bent knee off the floor to lie on your back. 

2. Tips to Reduce Numbness and Muscle Pain During the Ride

Tips to Reduce Numbness and Muscle Pain During the Ride
Tips to Reduce Numbness and Muscle Pain During the Ride
  • Adopt a relaxed riding stance and change your posture from time to time to avoid numbness and muscle aches. Try not to lean too heavily on the handlebar grips to prevent numbness in your hands and arms.
  • Ensure your motorcycle handlebars are well-positioned so when you grab the grips, your arms are neither over-extended nor positioned too high.
  • Excessive vibration can also cause numbness in hands and arms. To reduce vibration, install handlebar weights or vibration-dampening handlebar grips. Using padded riding gloves also helps prevent muscle numbness due to harsh vibrations.
  • Take frequent breaks and perform different stretching exercises to improve blood flow and prevent numbness or muscle fatigue.
  • Wind buffeting and harsh turbulence endured by the helmet can emanate severe neck and shoulder pain that can also travel down your arms and spine. The best remedy for this condition would be to ride without a helmet, but unfortunately, this practice is not safe for high-speed highway rides because then your neck will take all the beating from the gusty crosswinds. To counter the pain, you can use some painkillers and always wear an aerodynamically-designed full-face helmet. In addition, tune down the turbulence and wind buffeting by weaponizing your two-wheeler with a tall and wide windshield with five-way adjustability for greater protection and comfort.
  • Another strong culprit of severe neck, shoulder, and back pain is the motorcycle specific backpack that most motorcyclists prefer to secure to their chests. Little do they know that the backpack is the reason they experience nasty pain and numbness in their arms only after riding a few miles. To prevent these terrible episodes of paralyzing pain, consider equipping your motorcycle on a sissy bar. If investing in a sissy bar seems like a waste of money to you, then secure the backpack to the pillion or luggage rack using heavy-duty straps.
  • Lumbar pain after riding the motorcycle for long hours is often associated with non-supportive and flat motorcycle saddles and improper suspension adjustment. Check and fix these two and you may feel the lumbar pain easing if not diminishing entirely.
  • Wind pressure can put excess strain on your cervical vertebrae and when you are wearing a helmet its weight adds to the strain, causing a varying degree of pain depending on your individual muscle strength and endurance. Slowing down to move your head around and relieve some pressure off the cervicals is probably the only way to manage the discomfort. On the other hand, if you are aware of the adverse effects highway winds have on your cervicals, choose an ultralight protective headgear.
  • Your motorcycle ergonomic configuration must adapt to your body and not the other way around; however, if all attempts of improving ergonomics fail to prevent intense back and neck pain that keeps you from continuing your motorcycle escapade and takes away from your adventure, turn to stretching exercises to find relief during your motorcycle ride. Painkiller prescriptions and muscle relaxants may also come in handy, so make sure you get an appointment with your physician before embarking on the ride.

3. Tips to Overcome Exhaustion After the Motorcycle Ride

Motorcycle ride muscle stiffness is directly related to rider fatigue and exhaustion. Many riders undermine the importance of frequent rest breaks and tend to continue riding for over six-seven hours, ignoring body aches, headaches, muscle stiffness, and numbness. Extreme tiredness can not only lead to a lack of concentration and drowsiness, but it is also a leading cause of accidents. On the other hand, if the riders manage to reach their destination safely, they experience post-riding fatigue symptoms such as low blood pressure, loss of appetite, fever, and inability to focus. Whether you choose to stay at a hotel room during the ride or are back home from your trip, here are some tips to help you cope and recover from exhaustion:

3.1 Physical and Mental Rest

Try to rest as much as you can and avoid joining the office or school immediately after returning from your motorcycle trip. Give yourself a couple of days before starting on responsibilities, energy-draining tasks, and mentally stimulating and challenging projects.

3.2 Limit Motorcycle Use

Try to ride your motorcycle as little as possible for a couple of weeks after your trip. Restrict your motorcycle use to short around-town rides, such as grocery store runs and other simple errands. However, don’t leave it completely as it will help your muscles remember the posture you maintain to ride the bike, so when you have recovered from the exhaustion, your muscles will not become stiff after a regular commute. 

3.3 Prioritize Hydration

Stay hydrated as much as possible. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times. Also, you can eat soups and curries for lunch and dinner to increase your water intake. Avoid sugary beverages and fast foods as they also cause dehydration. Drinking herbal teas and flavored water will also help you replenish lost fluids. 

3.4 Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

After you are back from the motorcycle trip, avoid alcohol consumption for at least a week because alcoholic beverages also cause dehydration, so its side effects are not just restricted to intoxication. Therefore, eliminate it from your routine not just before and during the motorcycle ride, but also after it. 

3.5 Ensure Quality Restorative Sleep

Ensure a good night’s rest after a long motorcycle ride. Be sure to perform some of the stretches mentioned above at a slower pace just before bed. They will improve blood circulation, provide relief from muscle stiffness, and help you sleep better. 

4. Last Words

Motorcycle rides are extremely enjoyable and quite exhilarating; however, their major downside is muscle stiffness, body aches, and general fatigue. To overcome these issues, all you need is to follow a simple exercise routine consistently, take several precautionary measures to reduce fatigue-inducing factors and adopt healthy lifestyle choices. All the stretching exercises mentioned in this article can be easily incorporated into your daily routine regardless of your fitness levels and experience.

Moreover, these exercises seamlessly come together as a no-equipment do-it-anywhere workout. By practicing these exercises before, during, and after a motorcycle ride, you can ensure speedy recovery from muscle stiffness and other related issues. Though all the exercises listed in this article are low-impact and beginner-friendly, it is advisable that you consult your healthcare provider before starting this routine or if you experience discomfort or pain. 

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