Should Cyclists Stretch? Mark Green from the Body Mechanic shares his professional knowledge with Cyclist, ahead of the Spring Cycle.
Stretching is one of those subjects that divides opinion. Some cyclists love stretching, others hate it.
Some people can exercise their whole life without stretching and remain injury-free. Others find they can’t string together two weeks of uninterrupted training unless they stretch regularly. The bottom line is that you have to find what works best for your body.
If you are ramping up your training for the Spring Cycle and pushing your distances and speed more than usual, then you should be considering some form of body maintenance, particularly if you are over 40.
Making body maintenance part of your training routine will improve your flexibility and highly reduce your chances of injuries occurring.
There is not one solution that fits all, but in general, making body maintenance part of your training routine will improve your flexibility and highly reduce your chances of injuries occurring. It might be stretching, it might be foam rolling, or yoga, or Pilates. The key to it working successfully will be performing it frequently.
If you spend extended periods of time sitting down (work, travelling, lazing on the sofa, etc.) then your body will begin to adapt to that position and you will gradually become stiffer in your hips, lower back, ankles and knees.
If you try to rely on a single yoga/Pilates class each week to satisfy all of your stretching requirements, then you will not be getting the best possible results for your body. Think of it like this: If you wanted to ride 200km in a week, would you do the whole lot in one go, then rest for the next 6 days to let your body recover?
It would be easier on your body, and more beneficial, to commute to and from work each day and spread the 200kms over 10 rides. Your body would also then cope with an additional longer weekend ride, giving you the option of adding extra kms if you feel like it.
If you go to yoga/Pilates on a Tuesday night, chances are that you will be stiff again by lunchtime on Wednesday after sitting in your chair at work for 3-4 hours. Make sure you top up the class with some other regular body maintenance work.
Think of your body maintenance routine as reversing the effects of sitting down all day rather than reversing the effects of cycling. The truth is that it will be helping with both…
Think of your body maintenance routine as reversing the effects of sitting down all day rather than reversing the effects of cycling. The truth is that it will be helping with both, but a lot of people make the mistake of stopping their stretching/rolling routines when they are not training hard.
If, for example, your training reduces because you have a very busy week of work and there isn’t enough time to ride, then in my opinion you should stretch/roll more rather than less to try and keep your body supple after all of that sitting time.
The Body Mechanic in Sydney specialise in treating cycling related injuries and improving your position on the bike with their bike-fitting service. They have helped thousands of cyclists over the past 10 years to improve their technique and reduce their injuries. For a cracking Spring Cycle, pop in and see these guys.
The Body Mechanic
North Sydney, Tel 02 9955 5842, firstname.lastname@example.org