By Wayne Hansen, D.C.
How many of you stretch before going on a ride? If you aren’t, you probably should. Most cyclists feel like a controlled warm up on the bike is sufficient, but research has shown that stretching after a short warm up gives you more power on the bike. A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness tested volunteers at two different times. First they did a controlled warm-up, followed by four 10-second leg power tests. The next day they did another controlled warm-up with 15 minutes of static lower body stretching followed by four 10-second leg power test (Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds). What the researchers found was peak power and total work were significantly greater after the static stretching warm-up compared to the warm-up without stretching.
The take home message from this is stretching should be an important part of your warm-up. Not only will it make you faster on the bike, it will decrease future injuries.
Reference: J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006 Mar;46(1):52-6., Effects of static stretching on leg power during cycling., O’Connor DM1, Crowe MJ, Spinks WL.
Wayne Hansen, D.C. is a Chiropractic Physician practicing at Solutions Clinic in Cottonwood Heights. He specializes in treatment of athletes, particularly cyclists. [email protected]