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Stretching / warming up

cartoonistcartoonist Posts: 9
edited November 2009 in Road beginners
Today I went on my first proper ride on a road bike for about 15 years. I've done quite a bit of cycling in the meantime, but mostly trundling around on hybrids and folders at a sedate pace. Most things went well on my lengthy (for me) ride (about 15 miles) - I can more or less adopt the classic road bike position without excessive discomfort, and I managed to clip into the Look pedals without more than about a 10 second delay to find the cleat each time...

One thing I did notice is that cramp is now more of a problem than it used to be. I'm suspecting doing proper stretching or warm up exercises might help with this. Are there specific cycling specific exercises it is good to do before each ride? If so any advice anyone can give about where can I find information about such things would be appreciated.

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  • Slow DowncpSlow Downcp Posts: 3,041
    I wouldn't stretch before while muscles are cold - you risk pulling something. Better to start your ride at a low pace, spinning a low gear for at least 10 minutes before upping the pace. Then cool down at the end, again low pace with light gear. Stretch afterwards to keep muscles supple.
    Carlsberg don't make cycle clothing, but if they did it would probably still not be as good as Assos
  • sicknotesicknote Posts: 901
    I wouldn't stretch before while muscles are cold - you risk pulling something. Better to start your ride at a low pace, spinning a low gear for at least 10 minutes before upping the pace. Then cool down at the end, again low pace with light gear. Stretch afterwards to keep muscles supple.

    I agree with all of the above.
  • I came back to cycling a few years ago having badly broken a leg - my physios wouldn't let me ride unless I promised to stretch afterwards, so you are correct in thinking that stretching is important especially when returning to an activity. Cyclists are particularly at risk from cramp, etc because by the nature of turning the pedals you are constantly stretching and returning the muscles without giving them the chance to really stretch out. Most cyclists (especially when we're younger) don't even notice this because they're so used to (and blase about) the particular exercise, but I can vouch that it is a real factor, usually underrated.

    Ideally if you want to stretch beforehand you need a light warm-up to avoid pulling something. A lot of people would say you don't need a preliminary stretch, but personally I wouldn't be dogmatic about it - if stretching prior to exercise works for you, then do it. All you would need (before, after or both) would be the basic stretches like hamstring, calf / achilles, front of thigh. There are loads more you can do, I guess Mr. Google is your friend. Ideally find a nice gym instructor to show you some, plus how to do them properly (no 'footballer' stretching, i.e. don't do it fast & jerky, slow & steady is what you want). If you do a proper stretching routine, you will notice a difference (even in everyday life), I promise!

    Cramp is of course also just a sign of old-fashioned lack of fitness, it will improve!
  • Always remember to build your distance up slowly and make sure your bike fits. Take an Allen key to adjust seat post/saddle until you are happy. If you start getting cramp, take it easy, do not push through the cramp as you can injure yourself which then takes time to heal, especially if you are not in the first flush of yout!!. Also hydration is an issue, make sure you are well hydrated, consider hydration drink supplements to replace salts etc etc
    And finally warm down at the very least, take the last mike or two at an easy and gentle place. And finally, finally, remeber recovery ie rest between long rides is part of the process.
  • Cramp is often down to hydration or more to the point lack of it. This plus all of the good gen above may help
    Neil
    Help I'm Being Oppressed
  • giant_mangiant_man Posts: 6,878
    You don't need to stretch before riding, but you do after. This I have found to my detrament.

    Good stretching exercises won't take much time after your ride and there was a recent article in C+ that was very good.
  • daveclowdaveclow Posts: 164
    i add a pinch of salt to my water, this is supposed to help with hydration and cramp.

    a football coach told me that they give dioralyte to players who are cramping.
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