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Stretching, any tips?

joeyhalloranjoeyhalloran Posts: 569
edited August 2011 in Training, fitness and health
I am currently stretching after every ride and now again throughout the day yet it does seem to be doing any good. My flexibility is still poor and my legs feel pretty tight after riding. I hold each stretch for 30 secs and repeat twice.

Does anyone else stretch? How effective do you find it and what 'routine' do you have?

Posts

  • RoadtartRoadtart Posts: 54
    Have a look online for The Stretching Institute.

    They do an e-book, and some other bits that'll help you.

    Good Luck.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    I stretch just about every muscle in my legs every single day. I find it quite therapeutic. It takes a while to notice any change in flexibility though, it's not a case of doing it for a couple of days and suddenly you're able to wrap your legs round your own neck etc... Just stick with it, hold for 30 secs as you say. Hamstrings are often particularly tight in cyclists and they can contribute to back pain...
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • My hamstrings aren't the problem, they are still very flexible from when I played badminton a lot (I can put my palm on the floor when warm). Its the muscle down the front of my legs that are the problem, quads, hip flexors etc...

    I know it takes a long time but i have been stretching for a while (although previous stretched for 1 min per muscle instead of 2x30sec which I now here is wrong).


    Does anyone have a pre ride routine to warm up the muscle and stretch before getting on the bike?
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Joey,

    If you're talking about sore quads, then stretching alone isn't going to help you. The reason: it's virtually impossible to stretch 3 of the 4 muscles in the quad group (the Rectus Femoris being the exception) becuase these muscles do not attach to the hip, and you can't apply enough length to the muscles by flexing your knee alone. By all means perform a hip flexor stretch for the hip flexors and rec fem, because this is really good. (Best way to do this is with the trailing foot raised e.g. on a chair - you want to do somthing called PNF stretching for maximum bang. Critical is that you keep your hips pushed forward and your lumbar spine doesn't curve excessively, it's really easy to "cheat" on this stretch!).

    However, massage is king here - get a foam roller or a hockey ball and get stuck in. You'll reap massive benefits in reduced muscle soreness and increased flexibility from this alone. Also, be aware that tight hips and weak glutes go hand in hand - part of the solution to your flexibility problem may be strength related. Glute bridges and bulgarian split squats are your friends here - both of these build strength in the glutes while also stretching our the hip quite effectively.

    PS If you self-massage (foam roller/ball) then roll first then stretch, The massage acts to relax the muscles and you get a much deeper stretch. I wouldn't bother stretching post ride, etc, just aim to get a quality 5-10min session in each day, I typically do this just before bed, it acts as a good wind down!
  • I have often heard it is best to stretch the muscle when they are most stretchy which is after exercise, is this wrong? I have a foam roller but i think the hockey ball may be a bit to hard core for me at the moment! I will try adding in some glute work and see if that helps though! Can I ask you to elaborate on what PNF stretching is though?
  • Zoomer37Zoomer37 Posts: 725
    Does anyone have a pre ride routine to warm up the muscle and stretch before getting on the bike?

    Theres a view that perhaps its not neccesary to warm up/stretch before getting on the bike as the warm up whilst ON the bike is enough to warm up the muscles used riding.

    Im assuming your protein/carb intake is there after you ride? If I go at it hard and dont get some protein in me my legs will be screwed the next day no matter how much stretching I do pre/post
  • Yeah, i have a recovery drink then normally follow it up with a meal after about an hour or two if I am doign a hard session.
  • jswbajswba Posts: 491
    My physio recommended using the foam roller on my ITBand. Wow. Hurts like nobody's business, but it really helps to loosen it.
  • My ITB isn't really a problem.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    I have often heard it is best to stretch the muscle when they are most stretchy which is after exercise, is this wrong? I have a foam roller but i think the hockey ball may be a bit to hard core for me at the moment! I will try adding in some glute work and see if that helps though! Can I ask you to elaborate on what PNF stretching is though?

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    Re when to stretch, yes, you're right. However, I feel that after a ride, I'm knackered and that stretching then is not as effective as a separate session with the foam roller (which is effective as part of a good warm up - the point is to move muscle fibres around and get some blood flowing). Again, your issue isn't the stretching/flexibility (by the sounds of it), it's the soreness, and this is a massage issue. Foam roll every day!
  • mustolmustol Posts: 134
    According to the sports physios I have seen, if you want to actual increase your flexibility i.e. lengthen your muscles, stretches should be held for at least 1 minute each. 20-30 secs is fine for maintaining flexibility, but will not increase it. Try holding stretches for longer and do them throughout the day whenever you get a spare few minutes. Foam rolling is also definitely worth a try. Hopefully, these things will sort you out. However, if you do not appear to be getting anywhere, you may have some muscle imbalance or alignment issues, so get yourself along to a sports physio/osteopath. After months and months of tightness in my right leg and seeing various people, my current physio has located a significant knot in my left lower back which is affecting my hip rotation. I have had a couple of deep tissues massages (yes, they really hurt!) and I am starting to feel a little benefit, but it could have been there for years, so a lot of treatment may be required, but I'll get there in the end. I just wish I had got my back properly sorted out years ago when I first had symptoms. If in any doubts, get along to someone sooner rather than later - they'll also help you put together a good stretching/strengthening regime. Good luck.
  • I guess this may seem like a silly question but if I am doing it wrong then i guess its not:

    How do you guys use the foam roller? any specifics to it or just carry on where it hurts?
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    I guess this may seem like a silly question but if I am doing it wrong then i guess its not:

    How do you guys use the foam roller? any specifics to it or just carry on where it hurts?

    Foam roll like a sports massage therapist treats you (if you've never had a sports massage, try it, it's well worth it!). Start fast and gentle; as your muscles gradually relax, you can go slower, deeper, harder. Finally focus on the really knotty bits and hold the pressure in a certain spot for 20seconds or so. You want to get all of your thigh, so from knee right to the hip, and all round the sides. A hockey ball is good for the last bit, and getting some hard focus!
  • Does anyone know of any specific stretches to target the area to the very top of the hamstring/bottom of the glute area?
    I've got some tightness in the area but the normal stretches I do don't seem to be helping it.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Does anyone know of any specific stretches to target the area to the very top of the hamstring/bottom of the glute area?
    I've got some tightness in the area but the normal stretches I do don't seem to be helping it.

    Again, a hockey ball is your friend!
  • huuregeil wrote:
    Does anyone know of any specific stretches to target the area to the very top of the hamstring/bottom of the glute area?
    I've got some tightness in the area but the normal stretches I do don't seem to be helping it.

    Again, a hockey ball is your friend!

    Just been out and bought a hockey ball.....this looks like it's gonna be painful :shock:
  • How long should I be rolling each muscle group for?
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    How long should I be rolling each muscle group for?

    You see benefits quite quickly, something like 30s-1min is enough to notice a difference e.g. in flexibility (try doing a hip flexor stretch, then roll your quads, then repeat the stretch and observe how much more movement you can get in the stretch). However, I typically spend 3-5mins per leg on the quads, this gives me a decent massage and relief from muscle knots. Everyone's different though, experiement, it's hard to go too far wrong with a foam roller!
  • mrwibblemrwibble Posts: 980
    Foam Roller
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