I'm not a doctor but…
Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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If you "need" to stretch before a ride then you have issues that need to be resolved and maybe riding isn't the most important training you should be doing at the moment.
Personally always after for me ( and no where near as often as I should! )... Sometimes I do do a recovery ( 50% FTP ) ride and stop every 5 to 10 and stretch things out.... Always hips/ glutes and hammies for me.
You should stretch before training after your warm up.
Depends what you are stretching for, if you are stretching for flexibility then do it after your training session or ideally set aside an hour or so for a specific flexibility session. If you are stretching to loosen up tight muscles and joints then do it after your warm up, usually these will be more dynamic stretches rather than static stretches.
I don't typically stretch as part of my warm up because I haven't needed to. The only time I do any stretching is when I do a flexibility session (which is nowhere near as often as it should be).
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Dynamic before and regular stretching after
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Why is that? I have always felt the need to stretch before strengeth exercise.
What is dynamic stretching?
Where do you do a flexibility session? In a yoga or pilates class?
Cycling uses less force than walking up stairs... i wouldn't call cycling a strength exercise.
I'm no physio, but what I've always been told is to avoid dynamic stretching, especially from cold. Dynamic stretching is when you use movement/momentum to stretch muscles. It is riskier than static stretching and, evidently, less effective unless you're already warmed, stretched and in any case well trained.
What I've also always been told is warm up, stretch, then stretch as part of cooling down. And stretch regularly regardless of whether you are exercising apart from that.
Dynamic stretching seems to be gentling going to the limit of the range over 2 seconds then returning. You should not use "ballistic stretching" which is going to the limit of the range in half a second unless you've had training in it. Dynamic stretching uses ZERO momentum. You just move through the range a few times at medium pace. Very very safe.
I have found dynamic stretching to be quite effective at freeing up the muscles, but it's really only major muscle groups and quite short. You shouldn't do the proper 15 second stretches, or the PNF 12-6-12-6-12 stretches, until the end of your workout. It robs you of power if you do it before the workout. Weird, but there you go.
Stretching before exercise is only really needed for activities where there is a risk of hyper extension. Skiing, or sprinting (running) for example.
You can't really hyperextend yourself on a bike other than in a crash situation, because your range of movement is tightly constrained by the orbit of the cranks.
Dynamic stretching (extending, not stopping) is flavour of the month for WHS types at work. Do it before you work, warms muscles up. Static stretching (long holds) is for relaxing your muscles afterwards
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Stretching before excercise doesn't really do anything. You should warm up and for riding that would entail taking it easy for a few km, get the legs moving and the muscles working. By all means stretch after a ride.
Sorry I meant strenuous.
Didn't know cycling uses less force than climbing stairs. Can you prove it?
For those that doubt, it is probably going to be well worth the 2 minutes for some brief dynamic stretching if you're in the process of heavy adaptions - digging trenches, hard efforts the day before, on your feet most of the day, whatever. I have found a lot of value in warming up my back muscles even though I'm riding a bike, just because its quite hard to warm up your back while riding. Helps posture enormously!
If you used the same force on your pedals as you do on climbing stairs, you'd have zero force on the seat as you would be supporting the whole of your weight.
The time you will be applying an equivalent force while riding is when you are riding such that you are standing up on the pedals. At those times, and if you are applying pull to the bars you will be exceeding the force of waking up stairs. Ditto with pulling upwards on the lower cleat. So there are moments when you can exceed the force necessary to support your weight.
You could exceed by varying that force over the cycle of a pedal stroke. while maintaining a lower average of course. Then again, the same goes for climbing the stairs.
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Yep, gotcha. Ballistic/Dynamic. I said I was no physio...
If yuo are using warmup to be stretching then there is little or no evidence that this is so. Evidence is that stretching is necessary but not before any particular exercise.
Counterintuitive and contrary to what we were taught in the old days. This belief is so ingrained into the public psyche that I recall an AFL coach way back saying that, even though he knew otherwise, he would never entertaint he idea of not stretching his players before any exercise session as any injuries would then be slated back to his not requiring players to stretch first. And so the myth continues.
See Herzog's earlier post for an exception.
I am not so sure about stretching AFTER exercise. But I'd consider that more a warm-down. It could reduce things like muscle soreness but muscle soreness is not the same as injury. I'd venture theat simpy finishing the ride at a gentler pace is the most effective way to reduce any such soreness anyway.
Last edited by ColinOldnCranky on Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
Unchain yourself-Ride a unicycle
There's quite a lot of literature out there that shows static strecthing prior to exercise decreases the muscles' ability to produce force. Basically having an impact on power and agility.
I reckon cycling is probably one of the best warm-up routines for most sports so I'd suggest just spin lightly to warm up for your ride. The AFL are quite advanced in their sport science - and I'm not referring to any underhand tactics - and they have their players ride stationary bikes prior to taking the field.
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As does the NRL and during the game when they are on the interchange bench
I find my calves get very tight from cycling. I can't do yoga properly because I'm too inflexible. I should stretch after riding while my muscles are warm but I don't. It's a real pain!!!
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Stretching before exercise when the muscles are cold is dangerous and can lead to muscle tears and tendon damage. Best to ride for 15 minutes then stretch if you need to.
Lately I have been getting a lot of muscle cramps in my calves at night, enough to wake me up. Any idea what causes this? Some say a lack of salt?
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