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Stretching and resting

Old 05-14-21, 07:13 PM
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slickrcbd
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Stretching and resting

Since I turned 30, I found that if I don't stretch before using my bicycle, I get horrible cramps the next day.
I know, they taught me in school that I needed to stretch before doing any exercise, but it seemed unnecessary when I was a kid or even a teenager just to hop on my bike and go somewhere.

One thing I've never been clear on is a good rule of thumb of how long after I stop riding before I need to stretch again.
For example, let's say that I ride the bike to Wal-Mart, then spend 20 minutes locating what item I need and then waiting in line to check out.
Would I need to stretch again? I'm just wondering what should be the cutoff point. I've been using about 10 minutes, because I really don't want those cramps the next day.
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Old 05-14-21, 07:49 PM
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I am 51 and I never stretch, I find no benefits in stretching., it's just a waste of time and it doesn't do anything for me..
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Old 05-14-21, 07:57 PM
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Try stretching after you ride.
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Old 05-14-21, 09:13 PM
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I never need to stretch. One solution to cramps is workout more. Rider harder and longer.

Cramps is usually the result of being not fit enough for the activity you're doing.

The only preparation I do is begin the ride slow and easy to warm up properly. That's it.

Last edited by cubewheels; 05-14-21 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 05-14-21, 11:06 PM
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As people age they tend to stiffen. We have all see older men with a shuffling gate due to stiffness. I stretched before going on runs and have always done the same for cycling. At 66, I stretch before and after a ride. I stretch before to limber and after to help prevent cramps since I am an egg-head and like to push myself on every ride.

Internet search on Stretching for Cyclists and you will find pages and pages of dedicated stretches and videos. The sheer number of pages shows that stretching is not an anomaly.

How many miles to Walmart? How old are you? If you are getting cramps just riding a few blocks, you may want to consult a physician.
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Old 05-15-21, 02:38 AM
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Everybody’s going to have a little needs as far as far as stretching or the need to stretch before or after a ‘workout’

I think regular stretching is good, especially if you only ride a couple times a week. Stretching a couple-three times a week on ‘off’ days can keep stiffness at bay. Stretching regularly throughout the week can eliminate the need you feel to stretch right before a ride.

The other big thing that can contribute to successful recovery is warm-up and cool-down time: Allow 3-5 minutes or a couple of miles on each end of a ride or workout, depending on duration/intensity to allow you body to transition from resting mode to ‘work’ mode and back.
y
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Old 05-15-21, 04:24 AM
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Recent science on stretching summarized (May 2021):

Stretching science has shown that this extremely popular form of exercise has almost no measurable benefits

Do what you like, but I'm nearly 70, I've been cycling all my life (still doing fast training rides of 2 to 4 hours daily, weather permitting), and I've never stretched. And I'm as flexible as I've ever been or needed to be.
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Old 05-15-21, 04:32 AM
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Stretch if it feels good and helps you. Don't stretch if it doesn't.

I stretch my back and neck often due to old injuries. But I don't do much stretching of my legs before bike rides or running. The current conventional wisdom says pre-ride/run activity should activate the muscles to warm them up -- mostly gentle exercises that contract the muscles, rather than stretching.

After rides and runs I do a lot of massage, especially with rollers and percussion massagers. Those have been more effective for me.

I'm not racing so I don't care about data on measurable benefits. I do what feels good for me and relieves my discomfort caused by injuries. It's the difference between limiting my workouts to 60-90 minutes, or enjoying a longer ride, walk or run.
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Old 05-15-21, 05:32 AM
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I prefer a hard foam roller.
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Old 05-15-21, 05:36 AM
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I stretch while riding. Getting in the drops or shoulder stretches are just part of being on a bike to me.
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Old 05-15-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Recent science on stretching summarized (May 2021):

Stretching science has shown that this extremely popular form of exercise has almost no measurable benefits

Do what you like, but I'm nearly 70, I've been cycling all my life (still doing fast training rides of 2 to 4 hours daily, weather permitting), and I've never stretched. And I'm as flexible as I've ever been or needed to be.
Good article and summary of much of what's currently understood in the area of "stretching." Thank you for the link.


An area with clear benefit: range of motion, either restoration of or creation of. That article mentions it. I've experienced it, through general training and specifically with injury recovery. And know of dancers that clearly developed their required range of motion because of it.

Interesting aspect, range of motion. As we age, many naturally gain increased "stiffness" with an attendant reduction in range of motion. At some point, activities that require a given minimum ROM can run up against such stiffness and lack, thereby causing injury.

With injuries themselves, some injuries can induce a significant limitation on muscular range of motion, and stretching (with general fitness restoration) is one of the very few practical methods of returning to a reasonably performance-oriented ROM.

Aside from that, the article also mentions the one clear situation of first-aid for severe cramping. BTDT, myself, as have many others. Have had severe cramps in calves on a few occasions, after hours upon hours of strenuous activity without any means of stretching throughout; "heavy" targeted stretching at the moment of the cramp turned out to be the only thing that could rapidly counter such cramping. (As the article alludes to.)

As for the rest, a fair argument can be made there's little to no benefit beyond the "feel good" aspect. Hard to say whether blood flow, for example, is somewhat improved via having better-stretched muscles when performing an activity; uncertain what studies of the science of this have been done for athletics and other activities. Hard to say whether recovery rates are somewhat improved, with better-stretched muscles. Particularly in cases of solid (even extreme) tightness or injury. Though, I suspect all of those are true to some extent. The article focuses on what can be medically/scientifically proven. Some things are hard to get at, with such proofs.

All of the warnings in the article about aggressive stretching or certain technique being potentially injury-causing are true. It's funny how in an otherwise fit person that stretching at the "wrong" time or stretching too vigorously before the muscles are warm enough for that level of effort can lead to strain, even injury. But do those same stretches when the muscles are warmed, with an appropriate level of effort, much less risk of such strains/injuries.

Useful activity for those who experience tightening of ROM and need to counter it. Not so much for those who do not. Hard to get at the apparent usefulness, when so many aren't so encumbered by ROM impacts of their activities. I was, during a stint with competitive performance running, back in the day; many of my fellow training buddies and competitors were not. Everyone's different.

For myself, generally, I know that as I've aged I have personally witnessed a decreasing ROM if I fail to regularly stretch (multiple times per day). But then, these days, old injuries have kept me from many of the athletic levels of physical activity that once probably accounted for most of my ROM and certainly for most of my strength and general flexibility. Beyond basic fitness activities (not athletic sport, as such), stretching comprises a good portion of what keeps my ROM what it is and avoids the tightening, stiffening and reduced-ROM that this aging is otherwise producing. I can skip a day or two of vigorous physical activity, but may all the gods have mercy upon me if I skip even one of my stretching sessions, as that's the surest way to get "stoved up" and "no-ROM tight" as I can think of. Funny how that works, with some. Don't know if medical science will ever nail down the exact cause of this. It'd be nice.
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Old 05-15-21, 06:40 AM
  #12  
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I neither stretch nor shop at Walmart. Wonder if there is a correlation.
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Old 05-15-21, 07:21 AM
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I have found stretching my hamstrings to be very beneficial to cycling and running.

However, it makes little difference WHEN I do it, and I almost never do it right before or after a ride, simply due to the extra time and inconvenience. I just work it in to my daily/weekly schedule whenever it makes sense.

I do it for the flexibility and range of motion, and that is more of a long term thing. Its not like I am going to suddenly have more flexible hamstrings because I just stretched. I find just being in motion for a little while loosens everything up to its most limber state.
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Old 05-15-21, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Recent science on stretching summarized (May 2021):

Stretching science has shown that this extremely popular form of exercise has almost no measurable benefits

Do what you like, but I'm nearly 70, I've been cycling all my life (still doing fast training rides of 2 to 4 hours daily, weather permitting), and I've never stretched. And I'm as flexible as I've ever been or needed to be.
I used to stretch but found no benefit and eventually stopped stretching. What gives substantial benefit is good body posture, good bike fitting, correct technique, and "easing" yourself into the ride (avoiding hard efforts until you are properly warmed up).
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Old 05-15-21, 01:10 PM
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I'm 76, do yoga and lower back stretches 2-3 times a week. Stretch the quads and hamstrings after a long ride. I've had issues with restless leg syndrome and find that stretching, foam roller, and magnesium supplement helps immensely.

Cramps are a different story. I'd make sure to be hydrated and maintain an electrolyte balance with a sports drink or supplement.
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Old 05-17-21, 07:19 AM
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I remember being 30, but I don't remember much.

I've found stretching after riding helps me maintain range of motion, general flexibility, and reduces cramping. So I try to stretch at least a few times a week, and certainly after a longer (more than a couple hours) ride. I'll try to stretch hamstrings, quads, and calves every 50 miles or so on ridiculously long rides, while stopped for a "nature break," food, or water.

I've read it's easier to pull a muscle stretched cold, so I don't do that unless it's cramping.
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Old 05-17-21, 08:32 AM
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With a bike, most of this conversation should be more centered around preparation long before mounting the bike.

The bike fit needs to match your current flexibility.

Then, you need to do whatever you need to do off the bike on a routine basis to be able to use that bike fit. Core work or cross training the supporting muscular structure.

Randomly stretching right before a ride? Most non-cyclists athletes actually use a bike as their "warmup". Look on the sidelines of an American football field. Or gym of other sports folks. They hop right on the stationary and spin for a bit to warm up. Then go on to the weights or sprinting or whatever they do.

If you have to do that before the bike, I'd say you need to roll easy around the block for a bit to warmup if anything before starting to go at it. But no need for a pilates class before a bike ride.

Maybe if you're a time triallist who has a pretty constricted bike fit and you've been on vacation.
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Old 05-17-21, 11:19 AM
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If you are extremely sore the next day that's also your body saying you didn't drink enough water during and after your exercise.
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Old 05-17-21, 11:28 AM
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I am one to stretch numerous times in a day. I stretch the body part that feels like it needs it at the time. I have no doubt that it helps my chronic spinal and shoulder issues. I also stop occasionally during a ride to get off the saddle for a few minutes and lightly stretch. I have no doubt that it helps me to be more comfortable on longer rides. Hydration is a huge factor in all activities.
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Old 05-17-21, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
If you are extremely sore the next day that's also your body saying you didn't drink enough water during and after your exercise.
Maybe. Depends on what the cause of the aches are. Hard muscle use can cause such aches, independent of hydration. Though, as you suggest, hydration's a big part of the body's normal repair and strengthening processes.
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Old 05-17-21, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Inusuit View Post
Cramps are a different story. I'd make sure to be hydrated and maintain an electrolyte balance with a sports drink or supplement.
There's no evidence that cramps have anything to do with hydration or electrolytes. I'd certainly stay hydrated and consume electrolytes on a longer ride, but not because of cramps.
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Old 05-17-21, 03:01 PM
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[QUOTE=guachi;22063712]There's no evidence that cramps have anything to do with hydration or electrolytes. I'd certainly stay hydrated and consume electrolytes on a longer ride, but not because of cramps.[/QUOT

Mayo Clinic disagrees with your assertion.

They list both dehydration and mineral depletion as contributors to cramps.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-...blood%20supply.
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Old 05-17-21, 04:53 PM
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I’ve found stretching to be both a help and to do absolutely nothing-it’s probably more of a placebo. Running, on the other hand, that absolutely requires some stretching beforehand!
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Old 05-17-21, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Randomly stretching right before a ride? Most non-cyclists athletes actually use a bike as their "warmup". Look on the sidelines of an American football field. Or gym of other sports folks. They hop right on the stationary and spin for a bit to warm up. Then go on to the weights or sprinting or whatever they do.

If you have to do that before the bike, I'd say you need to roll easy around the block for a bit to warmup if anything before starting to go at it. But no need for a pilates class before a bike ride.
This is what I've been saying a couple of times now. I found if I had to choose between the two, warming up on the bike (starting with easy efforts for at least 10 minutes) is better. It accomplishes desired results (avoiding cramps, avoid muscle soreness, etc) AND saves you enormous time (especially if you're commuting) since you're already moving and going somewhere with your bike as you warm up.

Perhaps, the reason why stretching also works is because it also warms up the muscles but since you have to do them off your bike, I feel like they're waste of time compared to on-the-bike warm up.
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Old 05-19-21, 09:29 AM
  #25  
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I ride quite a bit and I am not prone to cramps . I drink plenty of water and use an additive to my bottle when I go on long rides. I do stretch not only before riding but at least once during a long ride. For me stretching is helpful for fighting fatigue . I have had non cycling related injuries and gone to physical therapy where they teach various forms of stretching. Even after healing I continue the treatment on my own with what they taught me.
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