Cycling works all the major muscles of the leg. Millions of people jump on the bike and ride without any thought about stretching. Competative cyclists can afford the same luxury. Stretching can make a difference between winning the tour and coming in long after pictures are taken.
While cycling is not a flexibility driven sport, such a dance or gymnastics, professional riders have been taken advantage of flexibility training for decades, and here is why.
1. It's a common knowlege that looser muscles require less energy in aerobic activity. In biking the muscles are usually flexible enough at the start of the ride, but with time they get naturally tighter. The looser they are in the beggining, the looser they will be in the middle or toward the end of the race. The rider with flexibility reserves is the one to be on.
2. Transfer into every day life and other activities. Cycling, just like running is known to tighten up the athlete. Tighter muscles mean, everything from back injuries to pulled and torn muscles, if you do any other streneus or athletic activities. This can be playing basketball or lifting a heavy box.
3. Strength is in the mid range. The muscles are designed to have the most strength (and endurance) in the middle of it's range. This means weaker muscle at long range or short range. A tight cyclist is work in the long range all the time. Flexibility training allows him to work in the middle range, which means more energy reserves, and easier movement. Thus more endurance.
Most cycling stretching programs focus on relaxed stretches and recently few focus on dynamic stretching. The latter is good as a warm up and former is helpful in the cool down. However neither one is a faster flexibility gainer. Kinesiological stretching technqiues do things differently. They work action against action of the same muscle, allowing fast flexibility gains. Most importantly without the pain of the stretch reflex. These techniques can be used to warm up for the right, to cool down from the ride, or to relax the muscles and get a second wind right in the middle of the ride.
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