Ever wondered about all of the different theories of how to stretch? Should I hold it for 10 seconds or 20 seconds? Should I do a static stretch (stretch and hold) or a dynamic stretch (e.g. swinging your leg)? Well, we’ve done the research and created a simple guide for you on how to stretch effectively. Here are the basics:
When to Stretch and What Method to Use
After training! In The Importance of Stretching it was mentioned that stretching should be done after training to improve flexibility rather than other reasons like to warm up as it was found to have a negative effect on performance. By doing it after training you avoid the negative consequences on performance and by improving flexibility you will be able to put more power output from in a stretched position, helping to enhance performance.
How to Stretch
- Make sure your body is warm beforehand, go for a quick walk or do this when you get home from training.
- Static stretching (stretch and hold) is proven to be more effective at improving flexibility than dynamic stretching (e.g. swinging your leg)1 and because the goal is to improve flexibility, static stretching is the way to go.
- When you stretch, hold it for 2 times 30 seconds, any longer has no effect on flexibility2.
- Each time you stretch, breathe out with control and mentally relax, softening the muscles and opening them up. Stretch to a point where it is challenging but not sore so that you can still hold good posture.
- On every exhale try to deepen the stretch just a little bit more whilst being aware of holding good posture and not overdoing it…it’s better to under-stretch than over-stretch.
Do this 2-3 times a week and you will start to see a significant improvement in flexibility which will help your performance, posture and position on the bike. Plus, it will help reduce injury from off the bike accidents and make you more nimble in life. See The Importance of Stretching for more about why to stretch and how it can help you. In the meantime, try it out!
- Bandy. W.D, Irion. J.M, Briggler. M, 1998, The Effect of Static Stretch and Dynamic Range of Motion Training on the Flexibility of the Hamstring Muscles, Journal of Orthopaedic and & Sports Physical Therapy 1998, Volume 27, Issue 4
- Bandy. W.D, Irion, J.M, 1994, The Effect of Time on Static Stretch on the Flexibility of the Hamstring Muscles, Journal of Orthopaedic and & Sports Physical Therapy 1994, Volume74, Issue 9