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Is stretching overrated ? If beneficial, is it worth the time ?

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Old 01-13-18, 03:46 PM
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Is stretching overrated ? If beneficial, is it worth the time ?

When I started riding three years ago, I used to stretch religiously after each ride, probably would spend a good 20 minutes at least. As life got busier and the focus simply became Making time to ride, sometimes riding only 45 minutes or an hour some days, I stopped stretching. Thinking about it now, I donít think I feel any difference between now when I donít stretch and in the past when I used to stretch.

What do you ultra long-distance riders think?
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Old 01-13-18, 04:14 PM
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I once saw a sign on a dojo wall... "If you do nothing else, stretch."

I've been putting a lot more time into stretching lately. I am no expert but I ride over a 1000 miles a month.
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Old 01-13-18, 04:42 PM
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dabac
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I commute by bike.
If I miss stretching even once, My legs feel noticeably stiffer and more sluggish the next morning.
Doesn’t really do that much to actual time, but I sure can feel it.
If I miss several days, it’s just about guaranteed that a couple of old injuries will make themselves known.
So it’ll be painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a couple of days until I’m back on track.
If I ”cheat”, cut My routine short, do every 2nd day or so, I can kinda-sorta keep going for awhile. But after only a couple of weeks I begin to lose range-of-motion.
It’ll be harder to reach My toes, can’t sit with legs crossed etc.
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Old 01-13-18, 04:58 PM
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prathmann
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I vote for "overrated":
https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/...-exercise.aspx
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Old 01-13-18, 05:14 PM
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It helped me a lot when I was dealing with piriformis or piriformis-like symptoms that seemed to crop up after any ride over about 6 hours ago. The symptoms went away after I switched bikes to one with wider/lower pressure tires so I stopped stretching as consistently.

Started stretching back up when I was having lower back issues but mitigated those with hiking and core work so now I'm back to not stretching so much. Haven't had any issues for several months, hiking seems to be the best cross-training for me that keeps me in shape in all the ways cycling neglects.

So I think it can definitely help and make a difference but is not always necessary. A lot of time foam rolling and walking are better use of time/energy IME.
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Old 01-13-18, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
I commute by bike.
If I miss stretching even once, My legs feel noticeably stiffer and more sluggish the next morning.
Doesnít really do that much to actual time, but I sure can feel it.
If I miss several days, itís just about guaranteed that a couple of old injuries will make themselves known.
So itíll be painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a couple of days until Iím back on track.
If I ĒcheatĒ, cut My routine short, do every 2nd day or so, I can kinda-sorta keep going for awhile. But after only a couple of weeks I begin to lose range-of-motion.
Itíll be harder to reach My toes, canít sit with legs crossed etc.
This is my case, too. Have to stretch every time. I commute 120 miles a week or more and have to stretch to avoid knee pain (it's like my hamstrings are pulling my joints together and causing excess pressure). But that's now. 20 years ago I could get away with stretching only after big rides.
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Old 01-13-18, 05:16 PM
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I used to never stretch. It seemed I got all the stretching and joint movement I needed at the gym. But then I developed some "issues," knee bursitis, shoulder impingement, etc., and now I religiously stretch every morning. My take is that if you're fine and pain-free with what you're doing, fine. If not, figure it out.
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Old 01-14-18, 12:29 AM
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On a really long ride ... I WANT to stretch. I look forward to breaks where I can stretch. I have an on-bike stretching routing.

I find that when I'm sitting in more-or-less the same position for hours and hours, stretching is one of those simple pleasures. Right up there with munching down a bag of potato chips!


On shorter rides, I don't stretch and don't know that it would necessarily help.


Lately I've started running and i'm finding that with running, stretching is good! So I've had to start incorporating that into my running plans.


Just my personal experiences.
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Old 01-14-18, 08:33 AM
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Stretching is essential for me otherwise my lower back issues flare up. My issue is primarily hamstring tightness plus an imbalance in flexibility between my right and left legs. I was short of time in December and wasn't very diligent with my stretching and then paid the price for nearly 2 weeks. I'm back to fitting in the stretching.
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Old 01-14-18, 11:00 AM
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Welcome to the community of "experiments of one."

On tour, once I've worked myself into shape, I don't need stretching every day. But when I'm adding miles in the spring, I need to stretch after every other ride; and on longer rides (metric century and up) I benefit from stretching. If I don't take the time to stretch, I get stiff, and that stiffness can lead to injuries.

Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
I get better stretching in after the ride (last paragraph of the link) when I'm warmed up.Before the ride doesn't do anything for me.
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Old 01-15-18, 05:27 AM
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The end goal in movement is strength/endurance (a continuum) for a full range of motion.

If you have full ROM, no need to stretch.

If your ROM is limited because of tightness, you need to address the issue, one of which the treatment could be stretching.

If your ROM is limited because of weakness/strength imbalance, the treatment is not stretching.
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Old 01-15-18, 11:51 AM
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No, yes and yes IME. But I stretch AFTER each ride, never before.
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Old 01-15-18, 12:09 PM
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Depends on your age, injury history, and how long or intense your riding is.

FWIW, my PT told me not to stretch just before or after a workout. Best time to stretch is when muscles are cool and relaxed, like just after breakfast or just before bed.
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Old 01-15-18, 12:34 PM
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I've known people that insisted that you must stretch or you'll immediately injure yourself, and other people that never stretched (including myself) and have yet to see any difference in the two. If stretching feels good, go for it, if not, skip it, and you probably won't notice the difference.
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Old 01-15-18, 09:09 PM
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I stretch after a ride or workout. Back issues and overall limited ROM are something I need to always work on. I find I get the "good" stretches when I am warm. Maybe a little age related. Didn't spend too much time on it in my 20's. Now entering the 60's, it is a must for me.
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Old 01-16-18, 09:10 AM
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I'm not a UL biker, but I know even olympic athletes do extensive stretching exercises and pay top dollar to get coaching on how to stretch properly like in Yoga and Classical stretching. Stretching will improve performance and help prevent injury. High performance athletes have the tightest muscles.
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Old 01-16-18, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
Stretching is essential for me otherwise my lower back issues flare up.
+ 1 - This is exactly when stretching serves a great purpose for me -- when I start experiencing lower back pain. I have about three leg stretch exercises that I do in less than 3 minutes during a brevet break. Repeat later as needed.
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Old 01-16-18, 06:18 PM
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I don't stretch much. I really dislike stretching. But several years ago I discovered that stretching is an excellent (and generally reliable) cure for insomnia. If I'm lying in bed and not sleeping, I will stretch for a while, and then I can go to sleep. As I said, I dislike stretching; but I dislike insomnia even more.

I've been having some lower back issues lately, and have been thinking stretching might help... hmm... I wish I didn't hate it.
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Old 01-17-18, 12:53 AM
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I don't stretch but do believe in a gradual warm up.

When you think of the activity of muscles in cycling there isn't much over extension outside normal operating range except perhaps looking over the shoulder to check traffic. If you have the range already stretching will not benefit you any further pre ride and may just be a substitute action for warming up. Some athletes like martial artists and gymnasts do stretch because their activity calls for rapid over extension of their range of motion (high kick/dismount from bars). In that case, stretching is increasing that range of motion for them. Other athletes, like power lifters, do not stretch as they want concentrated power only within their range of motion and don't want muscles that are too "flexible".

I do find stretching the day or so after, when I have DOMS, does tend to feel good. This probably has more to do with regaining normal range of motion in muscles that have undergone a cycle of stress/repair which is how muscles grow (by laying down more tissue).

Last edited by Happy Feet; 01-17-18 at 01:04 AM.
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