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Stretching - who does it?

JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
As the title really, I very rarely stretch pre or post ride, I know I should but never seem to get around to it, usually get off the bike and just want to eat.

I know this needs to change so am wondering what stretches work for cyclists, I suppose the standard quad stretch, calf stretch, hamstring etc that we are taught in school will work to a degree but what other stretches should we cyclists be doing to help with flexibility, recovery and keeps the legs supple?

do you guys stretch before and after every ride or do you do a dedicated session once/a couple of times a week in addition to riding your bike?
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  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    You shouldn't stretch pre-ride other than a bit of limbering up if necessary, otherwise you'll strain cold muscles.

    I do this after each ride 3-5 mins
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgEbH31FbWs

    and this a couple of times a week 15-20 mins
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WElIDKxmyQo

    I also do one specifically for lower back clasping elbows behind knees and pulling up.

    Otherwise you risk your muscles getting tighter and shorter over time
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,836
    I have series of back, neck and shoulder stretches I do most mornings. These were suggested by various osteos and physios I have seen over the years.
    I never stretch prior to exercise, I occasionally will do some post exercise. I was doing this quite a bit when I started cycling again following my Achilles repair early in the year. I have now lapsed with this, I can't tell whether it aids recovery and it certainly doesn't increase my flexibility. Whether it stops me becoming less flexible who knows.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Most stretches can be done as maintenance stretches or development stretches. The difference is how long you take and how hard you push. The girly in the above vid told me off for not doing mine long enough when she was training me. I would typically hold for 10 seconds when for development stretches you need to go 20-30 and really push.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    I do need a set of post (or even during) ride stretches as neglecting that has led me to all sorts of back issues. So a routine of a few minutes would be a good idea. Trouble is knowing what to do and how much.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,137
    Post ride I do with the aim to remain flexible and mitigate any issues that may evolve from not stretching.

    I use a foam roller after every ride before going for stretching my back, thighs, hamstrings and glutes.
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  • FlâneurFlâneur Posts: 3,081
    stretch whenever you can, hang don't bounce.

    Also a big fan of foam rollers/golf/tennis balls for different reasons but all help with mobility/function/muscles
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  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    It depends a lot on age, your body and if you have any injuries or weaknesses. I can ride for hours without stretching and suffer no ill effects but I do take it easy to begin with to let my body warm up and also take it easier at the end rather than sprinting to the finish with my lungs hanging out.
  • aberdeenalaberdeenal Posts: 200
    I always stretch post ride but never pre for the reasons listed above.

    5 mins seems to work for me :-)
  • stu-bimstu-bim Posts: 406
    I've had some hip flexors problems lately so have tried some stretching and it has helped

    Not sure I would have bothered if I had not had some problems
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  • FlâneurFlâneur Posts: 3,081
    Kajjal wrote:
    It depends a lot on age, your body and if you have any injuries or weaknesses. I can ride for hours without stretching and suffer no ill effects but I do take it easy to begin with to let my body warm up and also take it easier at the end rather than sprinting to the finish with my lungs hanging out.


    Bit like fitness though, best to be in good shape than have to chase it later.

    Stretching before is wise, as stated not excessively and not with big movements. For instance, sorting out hamstrings by bending over to touch the toes, just start by hanging for 10 second come up stretch your back up then bend down again and you'll likely go further without trying.

    Cold muscles exist before stretching the same as they exist before pedalling.

    If you think back to a warm up on a turbo, it involves moving up through various zones with a few short bursts to make the body aware of what is going to be needed. Think of stretching as the same, though without the 10 second bursts as the bouncing will do you little good
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  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    Ok so do you all find it beneficial or do you do it just in case? I don't or very rarely stretch and if I'm honest very rarely feel like I need to but that may just be my body being used to it, I think I would like to be more flexible so I can hold a more aggressive position when racing but I think doing a long routine after each tide would probably fall buy the wayside pretty quickly.

    What stretches do you guys do and for how long etc?
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  • Harry182Harry182 Posts: 1,159
    +1 for the foam roller (aka the poor man's sports massage). Picked one up on the weekend and it's helped recovery for my cycling sore legs and lower back.

    I don't stretch much and am pretty inflexible but am now doing a bit of light/random stretching along with a equally light/random roller session.

    (Ps - Browsed a couple "cyclist's warm up" vids following diy's link and will def be watching again.)
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Its the thing that you always can't be bothered with, the thing to cut if you are out of time. But it prevents injury and reduces tightening. It does make a difference, it is worth talking to someone knowledgeable as they often come up with techniques that you wouldn't consider on your own.

    If you suffer from lower back problems TRX is very good and you can combine it with interval training. I've been doing it for about 2 months now and my core is much improved.

    Rollering doesn't do the same thing, but its still a good thing to do to ease DOMS.
  • FlâneurFlâneur Posts: 3,081
    Stretching, as diy says can be the first thing to go when you are feeling short on time.

    But which stretches are best sought by you/someone who understands your flexibility/limitations

    First question though would be, do you have any injuries or niggles to work out? Secondly think what muscles you are going to use (those in your legs and something for your back). Worth remembering that a good stretch session can help your core, which is beneficial to your cycling

    Foam roller, one for post rides to give the muslces a fake massage, but I'd also suggest some thoracic extensions give the position you ride a bike in
    Stevo 666 wrote: Come on you Scousers! 20/12/2014
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  • zoomer42zoomer42 Posts: 124
    edited July 2016
    Its something ive always wanted to get into a routine of doing, but just forget.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    3 or 4 minutes is all it takes. You won't know you have a problem until either it hurts or you start stretching and realise how tight everything is. At that point it's a load of pain and bother to undo and will take a lot more than 3 mins after a ride
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,148
    Never did it - despite warnings. (but at 52 years I do now)

    Ended with shreded hamstrings at the insertion point of my pelvis - I was off the bike for 3 years !

    I always stretch hamstrings post ride. I also do a lot more gym work now. I have a routine I call my maintenance routing - basically hamstrings, glutes, core ..

    Other days I do heavy weights as I want to look like one of those guys on the cover of mens health (0 progress so far !)

    I also do yoga once a week - really boring - but it works !
  • I do stretches after a hard session where I have built up a lot of lactic, for me it reduces stiffness the next day. I use Mike Cotty's 15 minute routine which I got from his website, seems to work for me.

    If the aim is to improve flexibility long term, the best thing I have done to improve this was take up pilates (recommended to me by a physio after a hernia repair). Most people think it just builds up core strength (which it does) but it also increases flexibility. After six months I had lowered my bars by 15mm and raised saddle by 10 mm due to much better flex in hamstrings and lower back. Before the op (and pilates) when laying flat on my back I could lift both legs up to about 60 degrees and can now go beyond 90 degrees.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,346 Lives Here
    After 10 years of not doing it it began to affect my riding.

    My hamstrings got so tight I couldn't sit in my normal position because it stretched my legs too much.

    So yes, now I stretch and it's made a big differences.
  • All my stretching regime is unrelated to cycling. I do my stretching as part of my gymnastics.

    Traditional stretches only works so far. Children growing up gets the best results. Fully grown men make little gains from them. So I bought a DVD called Bendy Body from a contortion school Fit and Bendy. Works better than normal stretches, its unbelievable. Conventional stretches gets thrown out of the window! I am far more flexible than ever before! Even at the age of thirty. It won't be long until I'm more flexible than Van Damme! All the ordinary stretching I've done from 2010 to 2015 before I bought Fit and Bendy's dvd was a complete joke and a mug's game!

    The most important thing I learned from the dvd is exercersing opposite muscles of what you're trying to stretch. For example if you want to stretch your hip flexor, instead of pulling a leg behind you, you do leg curls and go for the widest range of motion your glute can allow. And have the non-moving leg in front to keep the pelvis from moving. The opposite way round works too; if you wanna stretch your hamstrings, exercise your quads.
  • Bo DukeBo Duke Posts: 1,058
    Webboo wrote:
    I have series of back, neck and shoulder stretches I do most mornings. These were suggested by various osteos and physios I have seen over the years.

    I stretch every morning and evening but just the regular style of stretches mentioned above. I cycle and swim and believe both sports call for fully extended muscles as possible, it makes a massive difference to your hamstrings, especially for swimming. I certainly stretch before training.
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  • Bo DukeBo Duke Posts: 1,058
    So I bought a DVD called Bendy Body from a contortion school Fit and Bendy. Works better than normal stretches, its unbelievable.

    Just looked it up on the net and watched the youtube vids, looks good. I might give it a go. :shock:

    Also noticed this which might be more practical for those of us at the back of the peloton... https://vimeo.com/ondemand/longandstrong
    'Performance analysis and Froome not being clean was a media driven story. I haven’t heard one guy in the peloton say a negative thing about Froome, and I haven’t heard a single person in the peloton suggest Froome isn’t clean.' TSP
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    It doesn't need to be complex - you can do a 5 min cool down stretch from a standing position.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    diy wrote:
    It doesn't need to be complex - you can do a 5 min cool down stretch from a standing position.

    Any basic guidance?
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    The gorgeous Karen will see you now ;)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgEbH31FbWs 3-5mins
    and then a bit more
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WElIDKxmyQo

    you can take your time on the second and make it more of a developmental stretch (30-seconds to a minute each stretch) rather than the 10 seconds or so shown.

    sorry about the squeaky floor boards which can be heard.
  • keith57keith57 Posts: 163
    edited March 2017
    I've been visiting my local sports masseur once a month for years now. It's great for injury prevention. She has been encouraging me to do certain sets of stretching after rides too, definitely not beforehand.

    Slowly I've got into the habit of routine stretching on a regular basis and have stopped timing the stretches. The best style is to stretch say one leg until the muscle relaxes a little, then you stretch the other leg until the muscle relaxes. You repeat at least 3 times, sometimes 5! At that point (my hamstrings especially) show a marked improvement. They used to be like solid wires and now they are more like stretchy elastic and far more powerful too.
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  • diy wrote:
    The girly in the above vid told me off for not doing mine long enough when she was training me.

    She could tell me off any time she liked :P
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