Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

To Stretch, or Not To Stretch: that is the question

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

To Stretch, or Not To Stretch: that is the question

Old 02-17-19, 03:08 AM
  #1  
CycleryNorth81
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 775

Bikes: custom Cyclery North (Chicago), Schwinn Circuit

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 310 Post(s)
Liked 155 Times in 89 Posts
To Stretch, or Not To Stretch: that is the question

Do you stretch before, during or after a ride? Is it necessary?
CycleryNorth81 is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 03:13 AM
  #2  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 51,917

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 138 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3122 Post(s)
Liked 355 Times in 225 Posts
Definitely NOT before.

During is all right and can be good on long rides to work the kinks out of the back and shoulders.

After ... is up to you. You're warmed up so it might be time to work on the hamstrings if you want.
Machka is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 03:15 AM
  #3  
livedarklions
I'm cross-chained
 
livedarklions's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 7,813

Bikes: Serotta Atlanta; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; Motobecane Fantom CX; Giant OCR A1

Mentioned: 47 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4033 Post(s)
Liked 2,906 Times in 1,655 Posts
Originally Posted by CycleryNorth81 View Post
Do you stretch before, during or after a ride? Is it necessary?
No and no.

If you like doing it, go ahead. I hate it, studies have shown it has nothing to do with cramping, and I think it's a waste of time.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 04:28 AM
  #4  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 11,689

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 184 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3711 Post(s)
Liked 1,314 Times in 864 Posts
Depends. I never used to stretch when I was younger. That was before a lot of injuries. The muscles in the right side of my neck and shoulder are tight as barbed wire from injuries. No choice now if I want to ride at all -- I have to stretch, a lot.

I started out as an amateur boxer and back in the '70s there were all kinds of theories that old school coaches and fitness instructors had, including no weight lifting ("makes you too tight"), no swimming ("makes you too loose"), and no stretching or massages before a fight ("makes the muscles lazy").

Some of those had an element of truth, but mostly because some athletes went to extremes. I knew a guy from high school boxing who later became a world champion. He lifted weights and may have ruined his technique with muscles that were way too tight -- after several years he couldn't throw a right hand properly and he'd gas out too quickly from developing the wrong muscles.

At the other extreme, Tommy Hearns' coach believed Hearns lost to Marvin Hagler because Hearns got a massage before the fight, which relaxed his legs too much. He may have been correct.

But there was too much exaggeration about it all. Turns out in actual practice most athletes benefit from diverse fitness routines, including careful weight lifting, swimming, yoga, stretching, anything that works muscles that are often neglected if we do only the thing we're most interested in.

If I don't stretch now before a ride I'm guaranteed to have muscle spasms on the first set of intervals or sprint up a short, steep hill. I stretch before, during and after.

I need to stretch before rides to loosen up the glutes and lower back. These aren't hard or extreme stretches, just warming up and activating those muscles that don't get used much other than during a ride.

During a ride, while riding, I'm often stretching my neck and shoulder, both of which have had many injuries. Occasionally I'll sit up to raise my arms overhead, behind my head and back, etc., especially when I catch myself hunching up my shoulders or feeling tension in the right arm and shoulder which is still recovering from an injury last year.

During a rest break I'll stretch the quads and calves, arches of the feet, back, neck, etc. This is all pretty easy stuff, nothing extreme. My feet in particular tend to cramp if I'm not wearing clipless shoes with stiff soles -- that's the main reason I use clipless on the road bike, and prefer soles with little or no flex. It pretty much eliminates arch spasms. As soon as I'm off the bike and take off the shoes, my right arch begins to cramp. And it often happens during casual rides on my hybrids wearing regular shoes. Lifelong problem, nothing new. I have long, skinny feet, like ice skates, and high arches.

I try to avoid working too much on the hamstrings though before and during rides. That comes later, after a ride or on an off day.

And I stretch every day, including rest days -- usually the only exercise I do on rest days. Lots of range of motion stuff too, just to stay loose.
canklecat is offline  
Likes For canklecat:
Old 02-17-19, 04:44 AM
  #5  
Stormsedge
Senior Member
 
Stormsedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: East Tennessee
Posts: 677

Bikes: 2017 Trek Domane SL6 Disc, 1990 Schwinn Crosscut Frankenroadbike, 2015 KHS Team 29 FS *NEW BIKE*, 2000 Gary Fisher Tassajara--gone but not forgotten

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Liked 47 Times in 28 Posts
No.
Stormsedge is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 04:52 AM
  #6  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 9,004
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1057 Post(s)
Liked 183 Times in 110 Posts
I have to be careful about stretching when running as everything seems to get tight. On the bike, however, I do zero stretching.
It’s difficult to say whether it will be necessary for an individual. Depends on your age and level of flexibility. Plenty of riders have trouble getting into an aero position due to lack of flexibility in their back.
gregf83 is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 05:46 AM
  #7  
Ghazmh
Senior Member
 
Ghazmh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: The banks of the River Charles
Posts: 1,362

Bikes: 2020 Seven Evergreen, 2019 Honey Allroads Ti, 2018 Seven Redsky XX, 2017 Trek Boon 7, 2014 Trek 520, 2006 Gary Fisher Montare

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 409 Post(s)
Liked 254 Times in 154 Posts
Almost never unless I am sore or muscles feel tight.
Ghazmh is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 07:24 AM
  #8  
mattbur
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NW Pa.
Posts: 241

Bikes: 2018 Specialized Sirrus, 2016 Surly Disc Trucker, 800 MTB for winter use

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 100 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
nope...never
mattbur is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 07:46 AM
  #9  
bakerjw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: NE Tennessee
Posts: 913

Bikes: Giant TCR/Surly Karate Monkey/Foundry FireTower/Curtlo Tandem

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 167 Post(s)
Liked 81 Times in 59 Posts
Never have. That is why I like to take a few miles to warm up at the beginning of a ride.
Now if you have an area that is giving you some issues, then a post ride stretch is beneficial.

A few years back, I went on an early in the year ride and pushed a bit too hard. My feet felt real hot when we finished. I went home and took a short nap. When I awoke, I could not stand on my feet or bend them. Plantar fasciitis. Had I stretched my feet after the ride and before cooling down, it likely would have been minimized. YMMV
bakerjw is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 08:12 AM
  #10  
NoWhammies
Senior Member
 
NoWhammies's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 1,402

Bikes: Argon 18 Gallium, BH G7, Rocky Mountain Instinct C70

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 605 Post(s)
Liked 207 Times in 130 Posts
Never.

Now that I'm older thought I think I need to start stretching, or maybe using a roller, after I ride. I think it will help with all of the muscle stiffness/soreness I experience the next day.

Trouble is, I'm usually too busy having a beer after my ride.
NoWhammies is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 08:20 AM
  #11  
wolfchild
Senior Member
 
wolfchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Mississauga/Toronto, Ontario canada
Posts: 6,325

Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1869 Post(s)
Liked 551 Times in 302 Posts
No I don't follow any stretching routines, I don't find it useful and I it doesn't do anything for me.....I do full body workouts few times per week and I also work at a physical labour job. All this moving around all day is enough to keep me flexible.
wolfchild is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 08:35 AM
  #12  
ridelikeaturtle
Senior Member
 
ridelikeaturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 958

Bikes: Bianchi Ti Megatube; Colnago Competition; Planet-X EC-130E; Klein Pulse; Amp Research B4; Litespeed Catalyst, Fondriest Squadra Corse

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 454 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
No and no.

If you like doing it, go ahead. I hate it, studies have shown it has nothing to do with cramping, and I think it's a waste of time.
I wish more people recognized this. It's annoying when, for example, everyone on my softball team wants me to stretch and all this nonsense. First, it's softball, not the olympics; second, and more importantly, it doesn't do anything for you.
ridelikeaturtle is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 08:52 AM
  #13  
Road Fan
Senior Member
 
Road Fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 14,948

Bikes: 1980 Masi, 1984 Mondonico, 1984 Trek 610, 1980 Woodrup Giro, 2005 Mondonico Futura Leggera ELOS, 1967 PX10E, 1971 Peugeot UO-8

Mentioned: 39 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1092 Post(s)
Liked 128 Times in 115 Posts
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Definitely NOT before.

During is all right and can be good on long rides to work the kinks out of the back and shoulders.

After ... is up to you. You're warmed up so it might be time to work on the hamstrings if you want.
Why not before? I think it depends on how intensely you stretch and for example, whether you bounce.
Road Fan is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 09:00 AM
  #14  
ridelikeaturtle
Senior Member
 
ridelikeaturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 958

Bikes: Bianchi Ti Megatube; Colnago Competition; Planet-X EC-130E; Klein Pulse; Amp Research B4; Litespeed Catalyst, Fondriest Squadra Corse

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 454 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Why not before? I think it depends on how intensely you stretch and for example, whether you bounce.
I wish I had the links at hand, so I apologize that I don't - but I was reading some NYTimes article about current research showing data for injuries not being affected one way or another due to stretching, and other research demonstrating how stretching doesn't physically do anything for ligaments and tendons, BUT it does increase your tolerance for pain. In some studies, a loss in strength was associated with stretching.

Again, I apologize for the weasel-words ("some studies"), and lack of links to research. I can confidently say this is a growing area of study, with very little consensus on what is really happening when you "stretch".
ridelikeaturtle is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 09:23 AM
  #15  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2,353
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1423 Post(s)
Liked 767 Times in 481 Posts
Cats and dogs stretch after every nap. I don't think the official conclusions of the various scientific studies will affect their stretching habits much. Or mine.

I can confidently say this is a growing area of study, with very little consensus on what is really happening when you "stretch".
Preserving your range of motion? Purging lactic acid from muscles? Preventing stiffness in muscles and joints? I just can't fathom how a person can ride a bike, but never stretch, I haven't been able to do that since my teens. But I only stretch during and after rides, before riding is not advised.
Lemond1985 is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 09:29 AM
  #16  
ridelikeaturtle
Senior Member
 
ridelikeaturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 958

Bikes: Bianchi Ti Megatube; Colnago Competition; Planet-X EC-130E; Klein Pulse; Amp Research B4; Litespeed Catalyst, Fondriest Squadra Corse

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 454 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Cats and dogs stretch after every nap. I don't think the official conclusions of the various scientific studies will affect their stretching habits much. Or mine.



Preserving your range of motion? Purging lactic acid from muscles? Preventing stiffness in muscles and joints? I just can't fathom how a person can ride a bike, but never stretch, I haven't been able to do that since my teens. But I only stretch during and after rides, before riding is not advised.
Yeah, and a dog can lick his balls without much effort, and this has nothing to do with you or me riding a bike, or doing anything else. (lol)

We can ponder that for a while. In the meantime, here are a couple articles to chew on.

https://www.painscience.com/articles/stretching.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
ridelikeaturtle is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 09:45 AM
  #17  
texaspandj
Senior Member
 
texaspandj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Heart Of Texas
Posts: 3,878

Bikes: '86 , '87 , '88 , '89 Centurion Dave Scott Ironman.

Mentioned: 99 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1424 Post(s)
Liked 328 Times in 227 Posts
I'm flexible...from years of stretching so I have no need to stretch before I swim, bike or run. But I still stretch a few days a week. There's a quality difference between stretching pre-exercise to prevent injury and stretching to increase flexibility which ultimately will help prevent injuries. Since I'm flexible (comparatively speaking) I only stretch pre-exercise when I'm going to be performing certain exercises. But to increase and then maintain exceptional flexibility I'd have to stretch everyday 30 to 60 minutes. And I did that all through the '80s. Now I just do enough to maintain a reasonable amount of flexibility not the high level I was intent on achieving in the '80s. Sometimes when I haven't stretched and I feel tight I'll stretch. But I can't imagine going through life and feeling tight in an area and because I'd never stretch not realizing I need to stretch. Which leads me to the point that when you stretch on a regular bases you become more aware when you're pushing your muscles to a state of failure due to tightness/tears.
Bottom line, there's a reason gymnast, ballet dancers, football players, and CATS, stretch, it increases your range of motion thereby reducing their chance of injury. None of that you need to just ride a bike however stretching to improve your flexibility overall is definitely worth the time if done on a consistent almost daily basis.
texaspandj is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 09:46 AM
  #18  
Spoonrobot 
Senior Member
 
Spoonrobot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,206
Mentioned: 63 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1167 Post(s)
Liked 112 Times in 79 Posts
I stopped stretching before rides after I read some articles posted back in 2013-14 how it was bad for muscles/ligaments. Seemed counter-intuitive but "science" you know? I was in my late 20s so it didn't really seem to matter

I've always sorta had some, but this year especially I started experiencing issues I suspected were related to poor off-bike posture. I'm now in my mid-30s. I started doing a 30-second routine that includes a few different stretches for calves/back/pelvis/hamstrings. Stretch and hold for 30 seconds and then move to next stretch. Takes about 10 minutes and helps serve as a warm-up for my ride. Riding issues went away and I feel much better during my ride - including a 200 mile ride I did last weekend. Went much better than previously in part I suspect due to stretching heavily beforehand as well as during the ride itself.

For long distance riding I try to stretch and massage during the ride whenever I can, including coasting downhills. It makes a huge difference, something as simple as massaging forearms and hands a few times over the course of the first 6-8 hours can make things much more comfortable when hour 11-12 roll around.

So I like stretching before a ride, seems to work well for me. I also like to stretch on non-riding days when I wake-up in the morning. Helps get my body awake and seems to cut down on recovery time and delayed onset muscle soreness from very long or hard rides. Try it out, it'll be obvious before too long if it works for you or not.
Spoonrobot is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 09:57 AM
  #19  
TakingMyTime
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Los Alamitos, Calif.
Posts: 1,885

Bikes: Trek 7.4 FX, 5200 & 7700

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 626 Post(s)
Liked 349 Times in 227 Posts
I enjoy stretching and I like the way it makes me feel. How it effects my strength and performance I couldn't tell you.
TakingMyTime is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 10:18 AM
  #20  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2,353
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1423 Post(s)
Liked 767 Times in 481 Posts
Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
Sometimes when I haven't stretched and I feel tight I'll stretch. But I can't imagine going through life and feeling tight in an area and because I'd never stretch not realizing I need to stretch. Which leads me to the point that when you stretch on a regular bases you become more aware when you're pushing your muscles to a state of failure due to tightness/tears.
Bottom line, there's a reason gymnast, ballet dancers, football players, and CATS, stretch, it increases your range of motion thereby reducing their chance of injury. None of that you need to just ride a bike however stretching to improve your flexibility overall is definitely worth the time if done on a consistent almost daily basis.
Once you've experienced the benefits of improving flexibility, circulation, and range of motion in muscles, tendons, and joints, it's really tough to go back to a state of ignorance on the subject, though I'm sure it's possible.

My body naturally conforms to whatever activity I'm doing for more than a minute or two. Be that driving a car, riding a bike, sitting in front of a computer, bending over working on a bike, sitting in a recliner, posting on the internet, whatever. So I stretch to return back to a neutral position. I guess this doesn't happen to everyone, but it works for me, and there's no way I would ever go back to being stiff and contorted again. For me that would lead to almost-certain injury, like for example, the many injuries I read about here on an almost daily basis that require medical intervention.
Lemond1985 is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 10:22 AM
  #21  
debade
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: WA
Posts: 317

Bikes: Trek Domane, Trek 2120, Trek 520, Schwinn Voyager step through

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 109 Post(s)
Liked 30 Times in 25 Posts
Stretching has not done much for me. But, myofascial release with a hard foam roller has been terrific for me. I usually do it before exercise but I think it works before or after.
debade is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 10:41 AM
  #22  
ridelikeaturtle
Senior Member
 
ridelikeaturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 958

Bikes: Bianchi Ti Megatube; Colnago Competition; Planet-X EC-130E; Klein Pulse; Amp Research B4; Litespeed Catalyst, Fondriest Squadra Corse

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 454 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 130 Posts
For those who swear by stretching: if the science shows stretching to not be effective, is there anything that would convince you otherwise? Or does the "it works for me" position overcome any and all forms of empirical evidence?

Consider the dog that barks at the postman. The postman goes away. What caused the postman to go away?
A: the barking. After all, it worked!
B: the postman was always going to leave, that's his route; the barking is irrelevant.

To the dog, the answer is A.
ridelikeaturtle is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 10:44 AM
  #23  
Trakhak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 2,137
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 578 Post(s)
Liked 212 Times in 148 Posts
The people mentioning the way that cats and dogs stretch are right---stretch as cats and dogs do, i.e., for a maximum of around 5 seconds, and only when you feel a natural urge to stretch. Otherwise, don't.

At 67, I've never stretched---other than when I yawn---and don't plan to start.
Trakhak is online now  
Old 02-17-19, 11:03 AM
  #24  
Spoonrobot 
Senior Member
 
Spoonrobot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,206
Mentioned: 63 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1167 Post(s)
Liked 112 Times in 79 Posts
Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
For those who swear by stretching: if the science shows stretching to not be effective, is there anything that would convince you otherwise? Or does the "it works for me" position overcome any and all forms of empirical evidence?

Consider the dog that barks at the postman. The postman goes away. What caused the postman to go away?
A: the barking. After all, it worked!
B: the postman was always going to leave, that's his route; the barking is irrelevant.

To the dog, the answer is A.
You're aware that the NCBI link you posted seems to contradict your position?

SUMMARYThe benefits of stretching seem to be individual to the population studied. Several factors must be considered when making clinical recommendations from the literature. To increase ROM, all types of stretching are effective, although PNF-type stretching may be more effective for immediate gains. To avoid decrease in strength and performance that may occur in athletes due to static stretching before competition or activity, dynamic stretching is recommended for warm-up. Older adults over 65 years old should incorporate static stretching into an exercise regimen. A variety of orthopedic patients can benefit from both static and pre-contraction stretching, although patients with joint contractures do not appear to benefit from stretching.
Anyway, I don't need "the science" to prove anything. If I am riding singletrack and my lower back starts hurting, I stand on the pedals to stretch my calves and the pain subsides for a time. Your position is that there is an article I can read or a chart I can look at that will prove my back is still hurting?
Spoonrobot is offline  
Old 02-17-19, 11:52 AM
  #25  
ridelikeaturtle
Senior Member
 
ridelikeaturtle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 958

Bikes: Bianchi Ti Megatube; Colnago Competition; Planet-X EC-130E; Klein Pulse; Amp Research B4; Litespeed Catalyst, Fondriest Squadra Corse

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 454 Post(s)
Liked 218 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
You're aware that the NCBI link you posted seems to contradict your position?

Anyway, I don't need "the science" to prove anything. If I am riding singletrack and my lower back starts hurting, I stand on the pedals to stretch my calves and the pain subsides for a time. Your position is that there is an article I can read or a chart I can look at that will prove my back is still hurting?
No, that's not the point, and if I was being cynical I'd assume you already knew that.

It's good you've found a way to temporarily alleviate your lower back pain.
ridelikeaturtle is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.