- It reduces injuries by allowing the body to react to adverse situations through a greater range of motion.
- Increases body awareness.
- "Reduces soreness by lengthening muscle fibers, increasing blood circulation and removing waste products." Brad Walker
- Improves posture, co-ordination, circulation.
- After a good stretch, energy levels increase and stress reduces.
How does that translate to the bike? You get faster without having to buy a new piece of expensive equipment. We spend a lot of money on making our bikes efficient, but ignore the simple things that are at hand.
- You can injure yourself stretching!
- Stretching is not a contest. Your range of flexibilty is not mine. The goal is not for everyone to touch the ground. The GOAL is to achieve the benefits of stretching.
- Turn off the TV. I've seen recommendations for stretching for 10 minutes in front of the TV. I say that stretching is a time to listen to your body. If you are distracted you are more likely to stretch improperly and can injure yourself with a strain.
- Don't bounce the stretch.
- Hold it for 20-30 seconds.
- Breath!!! Don't hold it in. Everyone has a tendency to hold in the breath. It takes awareness to remind yourself to breath. Breathing helps us relax and increases blood flow to those oxygen starved muscles.
- Before exercise. It's strange to warmup for ten minutes then stop to stretch and return to workout. Still it's a good idea. I tend to find that most of my cycling workouts involve a 20-30 minute warmup period so I don't always stretch. If I'm at a race, I definitely stretch before the start.
- After Exercise: Spend at least 15 minutes doing simple stretches that target the areas you worked the most and feel the most. It's not unusual to spend up to an hour gettting a good stretch in. I highly recommend getting a longer stretch in from time to time. It's like a free massage.
- Don't stretch an unhealthy muscle. There is a difference between a sore muscle and torn one.