Stretching for cyclists and generally active people is so important in your health and fitness regime. As I’m writing this post, I’m actually sitting on my chair and stretching my glutes and IT band by crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward or pushing down on the knee. Being extremely active, my muscles get really tight so I always dedicate time to stretching and foam-rolling every single day. I also found that the more I cycled, the harder it was for me to get lower in my squats but it’s been improving now that I spend even more time stretching than before. Tight muscles put everything in your body out of alignment which increases risk of pain, injury and discomfort… who wants that?
Why it is so important for cyclists to stretch:
- When you are cycling, joints are never taken through a full range of motion which causes your muscles to tighten AND shorten.
- Cycling is such a repetitive motion.
- Cycling is not a natural movement like running or walking.
What does stretching do for cyclists:
- Stretching will help to elongate and loosen your muscles and reverse what hours in the saddle may cause.
- Stretching helps improve performance, power, speed, agility and ability to ride for longer.
- Stretching increases flexibility which helps you cycle more efficiently by helping you get into the best form possible.
- Stretching aids in cross-training. For example, tight hip flexors are common amongst roadies as we lean forward when we ride which causes tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors means it will be very hard for you to get your ass to the grass when you squat. A half squat is NOT a real squat, okay people! So if you don’t want to squat like a bitch, make sure you are stretching those hip flexors!
So when you should stretch? After a good warm up when your core body temperature is warmed up. Never stretch before your workout because your muscles are still cold and you may increase the risk of injury. Static stretching before exercise may even reduce your performance so it’s always best to do a good dynamic stretch or a light warm up before you stretch.
While stretching may not be 100% proven to enhance your performance as there is much debate over this, you cannot deny that not only is it therapeutic but it feels AWESOME to stretch. I always look forward to my recovery regime after every workout …which includes a lot of stretching and myofascial release.