Warmup/Stretching for 8 mile Commute

wolfsbane2k Posts: 3,056
edited April 2016 in Commuting general
I'm having loads of trouble late in the evenings at the moment with tightness in my calfs/ankles after I've decided to add an additional climb to the morning ride in to avoid a road full of idiotic drivers at speed ( better knackered than dead).

I'm putting this down to either an insufficient warm-up/cooldown, wondering how much you guys do for a similar commute ( circa 35 minutes, 8 miles)
I'm basically doing a 30 second calf and quad stretch session before and 2 minute total calf, quad & hamstring stretch after each ride.

I'm not having a problem in the morning hile around the office, (maybe because I have a 3 mile walk with the dog before I start) which is the significantly harder ride, but in the evening, which is the leisurely mostly downhill ride.

Any recommendations/feedback on how others feel/do greatly appreciated.
I think the answer is probably more specific stretching ( and rule #5 ),

Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...


  • vimfuego
    vimfuego Posts: 1,783
    new bike
    Surrey Hills
    What's a Zwift?
  • vimfuego
    vimfuego Posts: 1,783
    seriously though, could be any number of things. Personally I only do a cursory stretch before my commute (16 miles each way) or any training rides on the weekend & I don't tend to get any problems, but do ride a LOT (10,000 miles last year) so the 40 something year old body is fairly used to it.
    Could be your riding position, gear selection, fluid intake/recovery during the day, or that you'll just get used to it.

    Hope it sorts itself out

    If in doubt though - new bike ;-)
    Surrey Hills
    What's a Zwift?
  • I started using a foam roller on my legs every so often after getting some advice at my last sports massage appointment. I found that stretching never really did anything for me but the roller really does help. About 10 mins and a few different exercises on it is enough for me.
  • imatfaal
    imatfaal Posts: 2,716
    I think a few targeted stretches are better than 10 mins general. I stretch my IT band - which is apparently best done with legs cross touching toes. Few of those whilst the garmin is turning itself on and I am off. If I get calf tenseness / cramping it is on rides when I haven't drunk enough
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I thought the general view now was that stretching before exercise is a bad idea? I have found stretching after a ride to be beneficial though.
  • The Rookie
    The Rookie Posts: 27,812
    Stretching before excercise is a good idea, but it prevents injury, not stops you feeling a bit stiff, 'warm down's' have been shown to be tosh in scientific surveys.

    For that length of commute I just warm up gently before 'dropping the hammer'.....
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • 964cup
    964cup Posts: 1,362
    Just don't give it the full bananas in the first five minutes, and spend those five in a low gear spinning like billy-o.
  • Streches are much more effective after a little warm up excercise. Cycle 5 mins into your ride, gently, and then stretch. Stretching cold is not a good idea.
  • cyberknight
    cyberknight Posts: 1,238
    964Cup wrote:
    Just don't give it the full bananas in the first five minutes, and spend those five in a low gear spinning like billy-o.
    I would go with this too, my 10 mile commute i do the 1sr few minutes at a steady pace , or could it be me getting old and needing to warm up :)
    Pre ride stretching apparently doesnt help so i always do a post ride stretch hitting the obvious calf/quad/ hamstring areas.
    FCN 3/5/9
  • tangled_metal
    tangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    I'm no expert but have done a variety of activities over the years. In some of these they were very keen on warming up. The most strict on that was ju-jitsu. Their strict warm up routine lasted 15 minutes and involved a gradual warming up leading to running round the dojo then turning and repeating on the word of the instructor. This got the pulse up and woke you up so your reactions were quicker. Then it was 5 to 10 minutes of stretching. Very much needed for a martial art with a wide range of techniques (not just punching&kicking but throws, locks, etc.)

    I'm not saying you need that level of warm up but the key thing I learnt was to get the heart rate up and muscles warmed up before stretching. You could damage yourself if you stretch without warming up was the advice I had.

    Stretching afterwards supposedly helps clear your muscles of damaging chemicals caused by stress during exercise. Or something like that. Of course everyone knows the static stretches but I believe mixing them with dynamic stretches does more good. Although learn how to do dynamic stretches (after muscles are warm such as after exercise) properly with good form since they can cause problems if done wrong.

    BTW the above advice is based only on what others with knowledge in such matters have imparted to me. I have no evidence to support these pieces of advice so may not be completely right. Others on here will have different views and probably better advice too but the above is my best advice.

    BTW I don't stretch these days, never enjoyed doing it so only did it when I had to for some reason or other. Apart from with ju-jitsu (no choice to avoid it) and gym when under trainer "re-programme" (amazingly fit female I had to the impress) I think I've never bothered stretching. No problems but perhaps I've not recovered as quick without stretching.
  • I do absolutely no stretching before any bike ride, never have. Never suffered problems even after a 50 mile hilly ride. Im not a giraffe or a fish, Im a human just like you, so my anatomy should be similar enough to yours to be comparable.
  • ManiaMuse
    ManiaMuse Posts: 89
    Could just be your seat position/bike fit. Might only be noticeable now because you are straining your muscles more over that extra hill twice a day.
  • wolfsbane2k
    wolfsbane2k Posts: 3,056
    Thanks for all the feedback on this - it's appreciated.
    After a few more weeks of the extra hill, I've started doing some IT band and Quad stretches before I get on the bike for the way home, and that seems to have resolved the issue, probably something to do with the rather sedate hours sat at a desk.
    I've also started seeing a physio, who has recommended some general strengthening exercises for my knees ( partial torn ACL) which I do at lunch time , so these seem to be helping - as well as generally getting more used to the second hill climb!

    But it's interesting to know how the rest of you prep for the day!
    Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
    Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...
  • twist83
    twist83 Posts: 761
    I sit at a desk all day. Commute in 12 miles and then home. About 600ft climb each way. Never had an issue and don't really ever stretch before or after. I wake up smash an Espresso, stumble into my cycling kit and then out the door.

    Are you grinding a big gear? If so maybe try spinning more. Or another possibility, bike fit? Saddle the right height, reach etc etc. Are you running SPD pedals/shoes?

    Might just well be you are not used to it? How hard do you feel you are working up the hill, how would you feel if that hill was say twice the length, would you go pop?
  • darren636
    darren636 Posts: 102
    I'd never stretch cold muscles

    A gentle start on the bike for a few minutes will warm you up properly and decrease injury / soreness.
    m-trax ti 1000- back when i was rubbish.
    evo 8 - i am continuing to be rubbish.
  • DrLex
    DrLex Posts: 2,142
    Another non-stretcher here, but take the first mile easy.
    twist83 wrote:
    I sit at a desk all day. Commute in 12 miles and then home. [...]

    Long Sutton to Yobsville via Martock? May bump into you again, chap.
    Location: ciderspace
  • stu-bim
    stu-bim Posts: 384
    Warm up rules change all the time like all training guidelines

    But current best practice is dynamic warm up http://greatist.com/fitness/full-body-dynamic-warm-up and static stretch in cool down
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