Cyclists are notorious for having poor flexibility - particularly those who fit their riding in around busy lives. All too often, we jump on the bike, fit in the miles we've got time to do, then leap off and move onto the next task.
However, stretching, and maintaining a good level of flexibility, is important. Tight muscles can result in all manner of problems which may even lead to time off the bike - when this can be prevented with just ten minutes of stretching a day, it's just not worth the risk.
There are two main groups of stretches: dynamic and static.
These involve progressive movements which use momentum (powered by you) to stretch the muscle groups. You move in and out of the stretch, holding each one for just a couple of seconds before repeating.
Dynamic stretches are particularly effective before a ride - they prepare your body for the movements to come once you get on your bike.
Because these stretches involve movement, your muscles are being stretches as they are warmed-up, as opposed to being stretched when still cold, making them perfect pre-ride rituals.
Each stretch should be held for around 30 seconds, ideally you'll move to allow a deeper stretch as your body adjusts to the position. However, don't push yourself to the point of pain - you should only go as far as is comfortable.
You should not perform static stretches before exercise - your muscles need to be warmed up, or you risk an injury. Ideally, these should be performed after a ride.
If you're struggling with a particular injury that is caused by tight, unhappy muscles, and you've had an 'ok' from a physio to try a ride, a short 20 minute spin, followed by the appropriate static stretches can work wonders, as your body will be warm and malleable.
If you're well and truly off the bike, you can also opt to have a warm bath, then perform a sequence of dynamic stretches, to get you ready, before following up with static stretches.
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