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Old 01-03-06, 12:07 PM   #1
Digital Gee
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Stretching

Do you guys and gals stretch before riding? I don't but perhaps I should. I just let the first 5 miles or so "be my stretches." But I was told I'm not getting any younger and should do more stretching. Comments?
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Old 01-03-06, 12:11 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Do you guys and gals stretch before riding? I don't but perhaps I should. I just let the first 5 miles or so "be my stretches." But I was told I'm not getting any younger and should do more stretching. Comments?
Current research indicates you should stretch (if you like) after your muscles warm up a bit.

Also, your idea of gently easing into the bicycling and using the first 5 miles as "warm up" is excellent.

I happen to have a very stiff body, with little flexibility, so I have begun a regular stretching program not specifically associated with bicycling, but simply getting my bod to flex a bit more. I am using a series of stretches I recently learned/relearned/reviewed in a stretching class.

I don't specifically stretch before cycling, however. I warm up as you do.
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Old 01-03-06, 12:36 PM   #3
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Arthritis is a big problem with me throught the neck, shoulders collars bones and lower spine (hence the North Road bars). Stretching those areas seems to agravate it. For cycling, I only stretch the quads as they seem to be the only muscles that do any work.
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Old 01-03-06, 01:00 PM   #4
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I think the general consensus is that stretching is good no matter what the sport, or non sport. There's a series of stretches for bike riders. It was given to me by a physical therapist but I end up doing just a few kids of stretches. Since I ride in the early morning before work, its important because I don't spend time (half hour) getting acclimated (wake up time).

The muscles that I stretch the most are the hamstrings. Standing up and leaning against one end as a support for my back, I would raise my leg and rest it on the opposite side. Hopefully the foot is about the height of my head or higher. I do this to each leg a few times with each time getting progressively easier and looser. I would hold this stretch position knowing its uncomfortable but not to the point of exteme pain.

For my quads, I would do a squat and hold the down position till I feel the quads strain. Then I would try to do the splits with both legs outstretched to the right and left. Obviously, I cannot do a full split but the movement does help.
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Old 01-03-06, 01:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Do you guys and gals stretch before riding? I don't but perhaps I should. I just let the first 5 miles or so "be my stretches." But I was told I'm not getting any younger and should do more stretching. Comments?
I just happen to be reading Joe Friel's chapter on stretching:
"A study .... found that those who stretched regularly following workouts had fewer injuries...those who stretched only before workouts had the highest rate of injuries"

"Stretching after workouts appears to air the recovery process..."

According to this book it would seem that stretching after workouts is more beneficial than pre-exercise stretching.

Personally I tend to perform better when I do some light exercises, push ups, pull ups, sit ups and stretches before a ride.
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Old 01-03-06, 01:56 PM   #6
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I sort of recall the Big Three: Endurance, Strength, Flexibility. Stretching stiff muscles is not so beneficial, and if you overstretch a "cold" muscle, you might not be riding the next day. I like to stretch after a ride (then ice those knees depending)...your body's warm, its mentally/physically relaxing and just "feels right"...its one way to slowly flip the switch to off as mentioned in a recent thread.

An old stand-by on stretching was a book by Bob Anderson titled "Stretching". But there are many others...I'm sure Joel Friel's chapter is good, too.

I get too impatient so pre-ride for me is just a slow 2 or 3 beginning miles. There are also some good on the bike stretches for those longer rides when you start feeling squinched up.
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Old 01-03-06, 02:10 PM   #7
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I only have so many stretches left in me, don't want to use 'em all up just practicin!
Actually, I always do some stretching before playing ice hockey and ball hockey, never do any before biking. I fall into disfavour with my riding buddies because I tend to head out at around 98% at the start of rides, not sure why, I guess it's "go all out while you still can!"
I've read recently that pre-excercise stretching is not as beneficial as once thought.
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Old 01-03-06, 02:44 PM   #8
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I only stretch after working out. That's when I've read it is most beneficial. The problem is that stretching takes time and I'm impatient, so I've narrowed it down to the ones listed in Cycling Past 50. It still takes around 10 or more minutes. After hitting the weights, I also do some upper body stretches.

The thing with me is to never force the stretches as doing so has more negative consequences than positive. I ease into each stretch and do it until I can feel my muscles being stretched and don't go beyond that.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:22 PM   #9
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Another benefit (?) of participating in this forum is that many of us have been cycling for a long time and have seen the changes in the philosophy of stretching. Remember the old days when the experts had us bobbing to touch our toes. Then it was "gotta stretch before you exercise." Next came, "warm up and then stretch." Now its often, "stretch after exercising." Here are two new concepts for you. I have a recurring hip tendon problem. I went to see a sports physician at Denver University and we talked at length about stretching. He said warmup slowly and stretch after the muscles (et al) are warm (either after the warmup or after exercising). I also went to the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and they agreed with the DU specialist. Of note, the physician at DU said there were some researchers who were concluding that it might be best NOT to stretch except when there was an injury involved (i.e. as part of the healing process). Secondly, I just read an article that stated some researchers are now recommending very short (3-5 second) stretches repeated 2-3 times for protential problem areas. The researcher who wrote the article said he became interested in how animals stretch and figured since they all do it for short periods of time (and they do it instinctively) it should be good for humans. He did some testing and said he found that the "animal" method works best.

Long story.

Short story - wait a while and they will change it all again.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:45 PM   #10
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Exactly!

As soon as I read of an excuse to eliminate the time required for stretching from my routine I took advantage of it and haven't looked back
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Old 01-03-06, 03:52 PM   #11
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I do not stretch prior to riding, like DG I take it a little easier the first mile. I tend to feel the need to stretch after returning home
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Old 01-03-06, 04:02 PM   #12
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I've finally become wise enough to have the strength to take it easy the first 4-5 miles. Odd how much this benefits my exercise and reduce injury (aches and pains).
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Old 01-03-06, 05:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Red Baron
I've finally become wise enough to have the strength to take it easy the first 4-5 miles. Odd how much this benefits my exercise and reduce injury (aches and pains).

This seems to be the general consensus, but I know it is wrong. When sitting on the saddle, you only move certain muscles through a certain amount of movement, and others not at all. What you should do is that 5 mile warm up, and then stretch. Only a couple of exercises, to stretch the calf muscles, and the thighs, and then theres the back, and possibly the neck.

I know if I am at the gym- I do a 10 minute warm up and then stretch- However when I am out on the bike I get so enthused by the thrill of cycling- I just keep riding like most others. Then after about 3 hours I find an occasional tight calf muscle or the back has taken a set so I have to stop. Bit too late then, but better late than never.
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Old 01-03-06, 06:10 PM   #14
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Stretch? Never. Been running, cycling and swimming for many years. No injuries from failure to stretch. . . EVER. I touch my toes once and pull back on each foot to feel my quads for superstitious reasons only. (Like baseball players "adjusting" themselves.) Then I go. If racing, I DO warm up by doing whatever event it is prior to the race.

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Old 01-03-06, 07:33 PM   #15
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I love Men's Journal magazine and read Dr Bob's Q and A every month. He was asked recently about stretching and discouraged stretching before strenuous activity/workouts and said there is evidence it can put joints at risk. He did encourage stretching post-workout.
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Old 01-03-06, 08:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
This seems to be the general consensus, but I know it is wrong. When sitting on the saddle, you only move certain muscles through a certain amount of movement, and others not at all. What you should do is that 5 mile warm up, and then stretch. Only a couple of exercises, to stretch the calf muscles, and the thighs, and then theres the back, and possibly the neck.

stapfam - how right you are sir! I left that part out. I USED to take off like a bat out of h**** and then strech at the 4-5 mile mark. I now take my HR monitor, ride around 60%, 65% Highest, and then stop at 4-5 miles and stretch. Worked wonders for me. Sorry to have left that important part out.
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Old 01-03-06, 08:42 PM   #17
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I know the current research says not to stretch before exercise. Several years ago, I quit stretching before my runs, and instead did the first couple of miles very slowly as a warm up. One day, right in the middle or a run, three miles from the car, I got severe plantar fasciitis. It didn't develop slowly, over time--it hit suddenly. I had no clue what the problem was other than it hurt like heck but I assumed I had a foot cramp, so I kept running to work it out. Bad move.

Three years and four doctors later I was STILL limping and unable to stand up straight when I got up in the morning. Finally, an extended program of stretching before and after plus a change in shoes and OTC orthotics allowed me to run again, without pain. Do I need to stretch before cycling? I don't know, but after those years of pain, I'm not taking any chances. I stretch before and after. By the way, for me it doesn't have to be directly before and after--a few hours either way is no problem.

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Old 01-03-06, 09:35 PM   #18
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I've been trying to work more consciously on stretching to 1) get a better position, and 2) avoid injuries like ITB (ilio-tubal band) that I got during a century last summer. I do yoga at least once a week as well.

Like everyone else, I've been through lots of different rules about it but no dramatic anecdotes. One thing that I learned in yoga is that there is a reflex that is invoked if you take a stretch too far, the body will tighten up in an attempt to counteract it, so take it easy!
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Old 01-03-06, 10:04 PM   #19
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Stretching??

Just takes away from the time that I could be several more miles on down the road!
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Old 01-03-06, 11:24 PM   #20
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I've been trying to work more consciously on stretching to 1) get a better position, and 2) avoid injuries like ITB (ilio-tubal band) that I got during a century last summer. I do yoga at least once a week as well.

Like everyone else, I've been through lots of different rules about it but no dramatic anecdotes. One thing that I learned in yoga is that there is a reflex that is invoked if you take a stretch too far, the body will tighten up in an attempt to counteract it, so take it easy!
With regard to the I.T. band, this was hurting me and prompted me to go to a bike fitter who also happens to be a chiropractor. I ended up with a better bike fit but had a lot of rest which was also important. To eliminate the I.T. band problem, I had to use orthotics in my bike shoe; had to change shoes to the SIDI Genius 5 because they're a lot stiffer; had to change crank arms from 172.5 to 170; had to change my form. Now I keep my knees more in towards the top tube. Before I had the bad habit of knee drift outwards. All this put pressure on my I.T. band to work instead of the quads.
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Old 01-04-06, 05:01 AM   #21
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Riding outside: I take it easy for 350 feet (the length of the driveway) then take it to full speed. On the trainer in the attic: I spin up to 20 mph and 80+ revs on the cranks in less than 20 seconds. In both cases the only stretching I do is on the bike as I change position on the handlebars.
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