I'm not a bike racer, just an every day girl who rides for fun, and a Massage Therapist for the Saturn Cycling Team. Four years of experience massaging the bodies of Professional cyclists and noting the differences between those that stretch and those that do not, has taught me that stretching is essential.
Stretching has many benefits and for cyclists, it is very important. Not only can it reduce the chance of soft tissue injury and increase the overall health of muscles, but simply it affects your comfort on the bike.
Have you ever ridden a long day, climbed a few hills and come home with a bit of back pain? I have?and it's no fun. Stretching can help alleviate the ache and increase your overall comfort the day after such a workout?and, on your next hard ride.
Stretching is best done after 5-10 minutes of warm-up, and after cooling down. For cyclists, target areas for stretching are the Gluteal muscles (buttocks), Hip Flexors, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, IT-Band, Adductors, Calf muscles, Upper back, Neck and the Abdominals. A little extra stretch-time focused on the Gluteals, Hip Flexors and Hamstrings can really help with the post-ride back ache.
Benefits of stretching:
- Increases overall comfort
- Brings you in touch with your body for a moment
- Reduces anxiety, stress and fatigue
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases risk of soft tissue injury
- Increases joint range of motion
- Promotes blood circulation and health of tissues
Increases coordination and mobility
Suggested methods of Stretching for Cyclists:
Static stretching - moving slowly into a stretch and holding a position for 10-30 seconds allowing the muscle to elongate.
AIS - Active Isolated Stretching - Short intense stretches, using antagonist muscles to passively stretch targeted muscles. This type of stretching sometimes requires assistance of another person, or a stretching band. Your massage therapist can teach you a few specific stretches that are especially affective?especially for hamstrings.
Yoga - There are many Yoga positions that are very effective for stretching cycling focused muscle groups. Power Yoga is good for strengthening, as well as stretching. Check out www.yogajournal.com/practice for articles on Yoga for Cyclists.
REMEMBER!!!!!?Always seek the advice of a physician before starting a stretching program or any other exercise program. If you have injuries, or have never stretched before, start slow and gradually increase your stretching based on your body's comfort in the stretch. Never stretch to the point of pain. Only stretch as far as is comfortable for your body.