Stretch it

        Why stretch?
  1. It reduces injuries by allowing the body to react to adverse situations through a greater range of motion.
  2. Increases body awareness.
  3. "Reduces soreness by lengthening muscle fibers, increasing blood circulation and removing waste products." Brad Walker
  4. Improves posture, co-ordination, circulation.
  5. After a good stretch, energy levels increase and stress reduces.
      One of my favorite benefits is a little less than obvious, but is in-line with the philosophy of TakeAim Cycling. Better biking through efficient riding. Brad Walker really opened my eyes when I first read his book "The Anatomy of Stretching". He explains that stretching will reduce fatigue because for every working muscle there is an antagonist muscle. If that antagonist or opposite muscle is more flexible the working muscle does not have to work as hard to do it's job. Therefore your body becomes more efficient simply by stretching.
      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.

Stretching guidelines
  1. You can injure yourself stretching! 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Don't bounce the stretch.
  5. Hold it for 20-30 seconds.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Don't stretch an unhealthy muscle. There is a difference between a sore muscle and torn one.
Contact me if you are interested in learning more. We can develop a routine for you that will improve your cycling performance and comfort. Either way, don't ignore the importance of regular stretching!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment