Have you ever considered the question to stretch or not to stretch before riding your bike? We are going to cover some points about this.
The reason we ride our bike regularly is to work our muscles and keep our body and cardiovascular system in shape. However we sometimes neglect stretching to stay flexible so we have less injuries.
So when cycling our muscles are making our joints stiff. Our joints aren't taken through their full range of motion when cycling. Cycling is a repetitive motion exercise which means the legs aren't fully extended or fully flexed. So biking is one of those exercise that the muscle contracts and strengths but shortens over time better known as "adaptive shortening". The process in which muscle fiber shortens and the scientists debate continues.
Stretching before, during, or after is still a hot debate between scientist. They did research on runners and tested for flexibility performed worse at sit and reach test due to muscles in back and hamstring inflexibility but these runners were considered to be in top cardiovascular shape in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning.
The reason for the tight muscles in leg, back, and trunk is elastic energy return some scientists say. The reason some scientist disagree is the motion is not natural to our body like running or walking therefore causing muscular imbalance and postural changes.
The forward crouch position that riders get in to and ride long periods of time tightens hip flexors causing anterior pelvic tilt an excessively arched lower back. This change can and could cause lower back pain. This could increase your injury risk. You need to keep a good range of motion. Because with out it your power out put will decrease.
If you have a lower stiff back you typically over reach the handlebar putting to much weight on hands causing tingling, numbness I hands and tightness in upper back and neck.
So in cycling there is only one direction on movement up and down for the legs. It's important to take your muscles through different ranges of movements to keep them flexible and lower risk of injury.
For cyclist the areas are usually universal. Stiff quads, hip ﬂexors, hamstrings and lower backs are top of the list, accompanied by tight ‘closed’ shoulders and chest muscles.
You need to take time to stretch lower back, hamstrings, chest an ect. So you may ask how do I stay flexible, when is the best time to stretch, how much and long, what type of stretches?.
Here are eight exercises to help cyclist stay flexible.
- Calf Stetch
- Downward Facing Dog
- Expanded Leg Pose
- Quad Stretch
- Camel Pose
- Seated Glute Stretch and Hip Opener
- Revolved Belly Pose
- Support Bound Ankle Pose
The best time to stretch is after riding because the muscle is warmed up and less susceptible to injury. The length of time you need to stretch each muscle is about 20-60 seconds. The long time allows for flexibility. For number of stretches 2-4 sets per muscle and this should be done 2-3 times per week allowing muscles to recover from stretching.
So stretching is an important part of staying over all fit. It really doesn't matter the workout. So I hope you find this informative and useful in you workout. So keep up the good work and remember safety first in all things.