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  • Stretching. Bring out the rack, Igor.
  • Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    One for the physio or sports therapy types – how much gain can the naturally inflexible get from stretching? Does it add flexibility only to a point, or if you keep going you keep getting more flexible? Not expecting to be a contortionist ..!

    I read that much more than 30-45 seconds per stretch at a time 3-4 x a week doesn’t gain any more flexibility in most people. Not so sure about gains in flexibility in the long term though?

    A while back w/o stretching at all I’d be a couple of inches or more from touching my toes. Always had short/tight hamstrings, before I was into bikes. Been working on stretching for a few months to crack the comfort issues of lower back pain/tension related to this. I can now touch my toes and I’m getting further on the bike without the back tension, but it’s not eliminating it – is it a case of keep stretching and it’ll get better still?

    Last Q – whatever I do to stretch before and after a ride, 4-5hrs of pushing a slightly bigger gear up local hills and that tension is coming back. I could do the same time w/o the climbing or by spinning, in comfort. So it’s about muscle use in climbing – will more stretching get past this eventually?

    I know pushing a gear isn’t the way to do longer rides (say 300km audax) but it’s good training and it’d be good to be able to work harder w/o that back tension creeping in. FWIW my road bike’s comfy, not too low at the front – 40-50mm saddle to bar drop maybe. Much more than that and I’d have to be on the hoods 90% of the time to not get more hip angle lower back tension issues. TIA.

    Premier Icon steezysix
    Free Member

    I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve been doing the yoga by Abi routines on Pinkbike/youtube and have found them really helpful for getting me more flexible. She does make a point that if you really want to increase range of motion, you should be holding poses for 3-4 mins at a time, 30 seconds isn’t enough to make a lasting difference.

    Also, you talk about being naturally inflexible, but it’s probably something we grow into. Babies and toddlers are super flexible, but from the age of 4+ we are trained to sit at desks during the day and then sofas in the evening and it goes away. If you’ve already seen improvements by stretching, stick with it, it will get better over time!*

    *Someone will be along in a bit to say there’s no evidence stretching makes any difference, but they’re probably the same people that think helmets don’t save lives…

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    “I read that much more than 30-45 seconds per stretch at a time 3-4 x a week doesn’t gain any more flexibility in most people”

    Whoever wrote this was talking complete bollocks. You have to settle into stretches for WAY longer for them to have a significant effect.

    Premier Icon bigdean
    Full Member

    There was a vid on you tube by a lad who was doing splits and gym type jumps.

    He quite eloquently and honestly said you have to give it a year to see big results and then still work at it.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    The stretch time point was from looking up how long to do them. In a study comparing flexibilty gains in groups that used different times, said there wasn’t a gain in those who held them for longer. Compared to the 30sec or minute group, not sure, need to look it up again.

    This is for hamstring type stretches not yoga, if it’s any different.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    “Results  of long term studies with healthy humans between the age 21 and 39 have shown that after 6 weeks, the people who stretch thirty seconds per muscle every day were able to increase their mobility more than the people that stretched fifteen seconds per muscle per day. (1) Changes in mobility amongst those that stretched for fifteen seconds per muscle per day were statistically insignificant. People that stretched sixty seconds per muscle per day increased their range of motion but not significantly more than those that held their stretches for thirty seconds.”

    “The results of many flexibility research studies have consistently shown minimal increased benefits for holding a position longer than 15 – 30 seconds. This is why we recommend doing shorter holds with more repetitions (especially if you’re just starting out with flexibility work).

    Longer holds may be helpful if you’re working on a specific issue (and after you’ve already spending some time working on shorter holds), but don’t spend minutes in a position in an attempt to improve especially when you are just starting out.”

    – a few more like that can be found, though there’s already a bit of variance in those two RE actual time. General advice seems to be not that long, 30 secs or so, regular repetition. Thankful for 30-45 secs being OK, as holding a hamstring stretch hurts!

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    I think the word “hold” is a really bad one in the context of improving flexibility – it’s too prone to putting tension into your mind. Relax into the stretch, breathe into it, even call it a gesture rather than a pose or a stretch.

    I might sound like a hippie weirdo but I’m not honest, I’ve just done a fair bit of yoga over the years and I’ve found stretching and mobility work absolutely critical for some of the powerlifting I’ve been doing of late.

    Premier Icon shermer75
    Free Member

    You don’t get much gain after 30 seconds for that particular stretch, but if you carry on doing the 30 second stretch day after day then you will carry on seeing a gain. It’s not good to be too flexible tho, it can lead to various joint malfunction

    Premier Icon sirromj
    Full Member

    Any particular style of yoga you do cheifgrooveguru?

    Premier Icon YoKaiser
    Full Member

    Op, I’m also suffering some of the maladies you mention. Whilst I still been neglecting the stretching ( I’ve been meaning to get to a local Pilates/Yoga class), I have found the gym and strength work to be a great help. Deadlifting and other compound exercises have improved my posture and bike position. I’ve also taken to foam rolling and again another great help.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    What stretches are you doing? Has any one had a look at where you are not bending?

    I’ve been stretching lower back and hamstrings for about 30 years. All variations of leaning forward.

    Last summer my back was really sore after climbing so I went to the Physio. He knows me quite well and has been great at helping me improve things with advice.

    Any way he had a quick look at my back as I lent forward. I think in those days I could get my knuckles on the ground.

    He said your bottom vertebrae don’t move at all. He then lent on them for about 15 minutes. This was enough for me to feel completely different on a bike and some one to notice I’d got faster on Strava.

    He then got me stretching cross legged so that I moved my back not my hamstrings. The stretch is 20 seconds over each leg and then straight forwards. Arms supporting your weight on the ground trying to arch your lower back. This is helped alot

    Well until Thursday lat week when something went wrong and it stopped moving and started hurting. But mention this for completeness. I think it was user error on my part.

    In summary get some one who knows what they are looking for to watch you stretch

    “Thankful for 30-45 secs being OK, as holding a hamstring stretch hurts!” That might be to much stretching

    Premier Icon alextemper
    Free Member

    First thing is to adjust the perception of increased flexibility from stretching. Yoga, specifically Hatha Yoga is about achieving symmetry in the body through various poses and increased flexibility is a by product of this symmetry. Imbalance can cause a lack of flexibility and addressing the imbalance can help to greater flexibility. As a point of reference for how long to hold a pose, for women an average of 30 seconds is required for maintenance and for men a little longer at 45 seconds for maintenance. Obviously you’ll need to hold past these durations to progress.

    My recommendation would be to look up local beginners classes or book a one on one session to get an idea as to what the problem areas are and to address them. For guys I would seek out a male instructor or female instructor who is very familiar with working with male physiology as you may need a less conventional approach to getting into poses. While Abi’s online videos are a good point of reference they don’t necessarily help to prompt you into correct form or give constant cues that you get from having a hands on session.

    Premier Icon docgeoffyjones
    Full Member

    It might be a lack of core strength/core not firing at the right time. often the inflexibility come from you body detecting a weakness and firing off your hamstring muscles to stop you getting into a unstable position.

    Grey cook can explain this way better than me.

    Its not just about having the mobility to get into certain positions you also need to be strong in those postions

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