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Stretching Before Cycling Offers Numerous Benefits
A number of studies online suggest that stretching before cycling offers little or no benefit. These studies consider the impact of stretching on the ride itself, and it is true that performance benefits are few. But that does not mean that stretching before cycling is without merit. In fact, there are many reasons it should be an essential part of your workout.
Benefits of Stretching Before Cycling
- Flexibility – When we bike, our bodies assume a certain stance. Although we may alter it throughout our ride by adjusting our grip, sitting, or even standing up, the motion of our legs remains the same. It is the limited range of motion that can restrict flexibility in the legs. In fact, over time, the muscles in the legs will shorten due to this limited ROM. We have all experienced time when we get off the bike and our leg movement feels odd and restricted. Stretching before cycling can help prevent this stiffness and can ensure that the full range of motion is maintained.
- Loose Muscles – Tight muscles often cause pain, and unfortunately bikers often experience a tightening in the muscles of the back and pelvis. No matter how fit you are, it is not unusual to experience some twinges of back and posterior pain during your ride. By stretching before cycling, you loosen the muscles of the trunk, which helps restrict tightening as you ride. Also, this flexibility will help you maintain proper posture both on and off your bike.
- Avoiding Tendonitis and Other Injuries – Tendonitis and other injuries often are caused or exacerbated by stiff muscles. Far too many cyclists skip stretching before their ride and only stretch once pain or stiffness set in. By this point it is too late- the damage is already done. Instead of waiting for the onset of pain, take the time to stretch before you ride.
- A Good Position on the Bike – In order to achieve an aerodynamic position in the bike, you need good range of motion in the hips and lower back. Without it, you will not be able to achieve maximum force from the gluteal muscles. In some cases, you will overcompensate, apply more force to the lower arms and hands, and cause stiffness across the shoulders and back. Are you catching the trend here? Stretching helps you achieve proper body positioning, which will allow you to achieve top performance and also prevent pain.
- Psychological Preparation – A stretching routine before your ride allows you to clear your mind and focus solely on your ride. Many racers go through a series of stretches for the physical benefits but also to prevent them from concentrating on their competition. Stretching before your ride also helps you make mental note of the state of your body. Are you experience stiffness? Do you notice any pain or irritation as you stretch? It is important to note these things before your ride and adjust accordingly.
Stretching before cycling does not need to be a long, drawn out ordeal. Just a few minutes of stretching is enough to reap the benefits listed above. Perform each stretch two to four times and hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds for maximum benefit.
As avid cyclists and bicycle accident attorneys, we know well the impact of injury on bikers. It’s far better to avoid injuries altogether, and we do all we can to prevent them. If you’ve been injured in a bike crash, contact us at Kass & Moses and we’ll do all we can to get you back on your bike! We advocate stretching before cycling, but check with your physician or sports trainer regarding the benefits and risks of any activity if you have concerns.