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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 02-27-11, 11:53 AM   #1
Velo Dog
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Any of you geezers have a stretching success story?

I've never been very flexible, even as a kid, and rarely stretched through 30+ years of cycling/running/kayaking/hiking. I knew I should, but I just didn't.
Now in my 60s, and coming off several months of reduced activity (family stuff, life changes; everybody has an excuse...), I've become so stiff I can't even get into the starting position for a lot of exercises. Can't reach much past my knees, can't sit on the floor with my legs extended, can't turn my head to look out the back window of the car etc.
I've been in and out of shape many times, and understand what's required to get fit, but this stiffness thing is new to me. Progress is SO slow...is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
No medical issues, BTW. Just age and lack of recent use.
Thanks
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Old 02-27-11, 01:03 PM   #2
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This winter my skin has been stretching quite well thankyou.
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Old 02-27-11, 01:31 PM   #3
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I can stretch a story as well as anyone.
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Old 02-27-11, 03:35 PM   #4
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I had been stretching each morning for years and was doing pretty well with it. Had much more flexibility than most of my cycling and golfing friends. Then I developed some lower spine problems and found through a physical therapist that a couple of the stretches were causing me lower spine problems, mainly because I was doing them wrong. She recommended yoga for seniors and told me of several places that offered it. I checked them out, told each about my problem and picked the one that sounded the best for me. Glad I did my lower spine problems are all but gone and I have much more flexibility than I ever did just stretching. Took me a good couple months of going twice a week plus doing some home recommended yoga exercises before I really started noticing quite a bit of improvement. I highly recommend it to anyone. Most YMCAs and some Senior Centers offer classes. Like any exercise routine you do what you can and don't force yourself, it may take a little longer but you will be much better off in the long run. Give it a try. And it's not just for women, 40% of the people in my class are older retired men that come to the class twice a week and are in great shape. Six out of the 17 males are cyclists and they all say it much improved there cycling. My wife who suffers from severe osteoarthritis also tried the class, and has made some real good improvement. Good luck and hope yoga or stretching work for you.
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Old 02-27-11, 03:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
I've never been very flexible, even as a kid, and rarely stretched through 30+ years of cycling/running/kayaking/hiking. I knew I should, but I just didn't.
Now in my 60s, and coming off several months of reduced activity (family stuff, life changes; everybody has an excuse...), I've become so stiff I can't even get into the starting position for a lot of exercises. Can't reach much past my knees, can't sit on the floor with my legs extended, can't turn my head to look out the back window of the car etc.
I've been in and out of shape many times, and understand what's required to get fit, but this stiffness thing is new to me. Progress is SO slow...is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
No medical issues, BTW. Just age and lack of recent use.
Thanks
Ever tried yoga? It will make you less stiff and more flexible. And it doesn't hurt.
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Old 02-27-11, 03:49 PM   #6
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I could have written your first sentence except to add backpacking and change kayaking to canoing and 30 to 48. The evidence that I found over the years indicated that there was no measurable benefit to stretching and there was some risk if you stretched beyond your normal range of motion. Some of my football fan friends told me that the pro teams were cutting back on it.

Then about 6 to 8 months ago it dawned on me that I was struggling to put my socks on. Then I read some aging physiology articles that indicated that your tendons lose moisture with age and tend to shrink and stiffen. I realized then why the sock issue and that changed my perspective on stretching at least for old people.

I started to statically stretch my hamstrings and Quads. I used the once/day for 30 sec routine recommended by a pro physical therapist who's book cured my rotator cuff problem recently. That cure was mostly through a stretching routine.

The book which I've had for many years where I got the idea for those particular the leg stretches also made made a case for leg extensions to build the quads and better balance the muscles in the legs of cyclists. As I had some minor knee soreness after hard bike rides, I thought this might help. I developed knee pain some 18 months ago and cured 90% of it with saddle and cleat adjustments.

I got another book in on knees by the guy who's book cured my rotator cuff. His recommendation were exactly the stretches and leg extensions I was doing plus standing on one leg for 30 seconds, eventually with your eyes closed. In his work and in the scientific literature he studies, weak quads is almost universally common among people with knee problems that are not caused by arthritis.

The last two rides I suffered zero knee pain during or after. The first time in 18 months. It works.

So over the last three months I've cured (95%) a rotator cuff and a knee primarily but not exclusively by stretching and I can now easily put my socks on.

That allows me to continue to be in denial about being old which is a cure in itself.

Al
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Old 02-27-11, 03:54 PM   #7
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I don't stretch, but I do ride slowly and easily for the first mile or so. My cadence naturally picks up when I'm ready for more.
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Old 02-27-11, 05:01 PM   #8
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+1 for yoga
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Old 02-27-11, 05:19 PM   #9
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Since the 3 back surgeries I cannot ride a bicycle or race motocross without stretching really good. I stretch every morning to be able to walk and move better.

Bill
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Old 02-27-11, 05:21 PM   #10
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Yoga is even more stressful than tai chi, which is right up there with country-western line dancing on the fun-o-meter.
I tried it and hated it more than I can say. I'm happy it seems to help some people, and they like it, but it sure isn't for me.
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Old 02-27-11, 05:26 PM   #11
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Long ago I determined that maintaining good quality of life was, in part, determined by range of motion. At that time I began stretching everything that seemed tight and inflexible. I will never be 17 again but I move and bend in most ways I need to and in fact, I'm more flexible tham some men considerable younger. About 10 years ago I developed a very sore shoulder from tennis. This sore shoulder plagued me for about a year. A chiroprator gave me some exercises that cleared up the problem shoulder within a few days. From everything in my experience, stretching in good for you because it works. I have books on yoga showing stretches and have not taken a class but can see considerable value in doing so. There are various schools of yoga. Read up, get educated, sign up, go for it.
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Old 02-27-11, 05:50 PM   #12
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At age 78 and being a rather avid cyclist and not overweight (135 lbs) I have no real issues.
I do a few stretching excercise before I get out of bed for a couple minutes but that's about the extent of it.
I do cycle 5 to 6 days a week and my mileage has decreased to +/- 100 miles weekly instead of 200 a week before I retired.
Have had some minor issues years ago with shoulder joint pain, but that has resolved itself by taking a daily helping of glucosomine, chondroiton and MSM.
I'm not prescribing supplements to anyone, but it solved my joint issue.
Staying active physically/mentally and not indulging in junk/fast foods has probably helped.
Pedal on!
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Old 02-27-11, 07:24 PM   #13
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Events of everyday life done properly can give much improved balance and range of motion. A great place to start and maintain: Get dressed standing up and without any support. Putting on socks while standing with no support is good for core strength and flexibility. Same with pants. As for tights...well that is not for the beginner.

Taking off a T-shirt by using both arms and hands and peeling it over the head is good exercise. Stretching to tie shoelaces. Well, you get the idea.

Lots of people nay say using daily tasks for physical fitness; until they see how beneficial that exercise is.
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Old 02-27-11, 08:33 PM   #14
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no om yoga

try the book The No Ohm Zone by Kimberly Fowler. You get all the yoga stretches and moves without the "spirituality" or the other add-ons. Its organized by body part, just go to the chapter for whatever body part you want to start with.
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Old 02-27-11, 08:40 PM   #15
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And add a good full body, deep tissue massage.
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Old 02-27-11, 09:10 PM   #16
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I never have been flexible, but I do work to maintain what I have. My wife, on the other hand, is an amateur ballerina who can still do a full 180-degree leg split. (She is 3 months older than I, so age has nothing to do w/ it.)
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Old 02-27-11, 09:17 PM   #17
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Yoga: Great if you have the time and discipline. It's work, and you need to invest the time to work out a routine that's effective for you. You may end of cobbling together a routine from a variety of different workouts.

Stretching: Best I've seen is the disc on Stretching in the P90X set, it's about a 45 minute workout. Great series of stretches, and the CD set is pretty cheap on eBay these days.
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Old 02-27-11, 09:18 PM   #18
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Stretching has helped maintain my Achilles tendons . I have had pain in them before, stretching, slow and easy stretching is very helpful. + 1 for yoga as well
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Old 02-27-11, 11:58 PM   #19
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If I don't stretch on a regular basis my knees hurt, my ankles hurt, my back goes out, my shoulders hurt and my elbows hurt. I don't always want to take the time to do it, but I have had enough pain in the past that I stick to it. Just move into and out of postures slowly; never bounce. All that matters is how long you hold the postures and how many times you do them. I don't have a couch in my house, so when I am sitting around reading I am usually stretching.
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Old 02-28-11, 05:04 AM   #20
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I find this brief routine good for my back, and done gently, good way to start back into building flexibility:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00001_D
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Old 03-04-11, 06:13 AM   #21
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Although I have been a college scholarship athlete (football & baseball) I've always hated stretching. It always seemed boring to me. But, recently I've started doing basic stretches in the morning and even took a "therapeutic" yoga class. At age 65 I've found that I have to be patient to see progress. It's just a matter of doing things gradually and eventually seeing progress over time.
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