It is beneficial to stretch before heading out for a bike race. Stretching prepares the muscles for the hard work that they will be doing for the race.
What does stretching do? It increased the tone of the muscles while making them more supple and flexible. You decrease the risk of cramping or injury once your muscles undergo multiple cycles of contraction and relaxation while racing. Stretching also promotes proper blood circulation throughout the body.
Stretch each muscle group gently and slowly
Your goal is to feel some tension in the muscles and not pain. When you feel pain, it means you are doing things wrong, or you are stretching too much. This causes muscle tearing – which is something you wouldn’t want to happen. It causes scar tissue and makes your muscles less flexible later on.
To gain the most benefits from stretching, be sure to hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not bounce! Ease off at the last few seconds of each stretch. Repeat this process a few times per muscle group.
Stretching can be done right before the actual race
However, it would be better if you can do your stretches everyday prior to the race. Simple stretches that last up to 10 minutes can do a lot of good to condition your muscles for the big day.
The only time you should not do stretches is if you have current injuries. Always ask advice from your doctor or trainer before doing any exercise for that matter.
Also, proceed to your stretches after you have done a bit of activity. Brisk walking or light jogging is a good warm-up activity prior to stretching. This will make sure your muscles to benefit more from the stretches.
It is always best to start your stretches from head to toes or vice versa. Avoid randomly stretching different muscle groups. Start with your neck.
Gently twist your neck to the right and hold it for 6 seconds. Return it to the center before twisting your neck to the left.
Next, gently bend your neck down so that your chin is touching your sternum. Hold for another 6 seconds before lifting your head back to center.
Then, slowly roll your shoulders forward for 8 times. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back for another 8 counts.
Stretch your arms
Use your left hand to hold the bottom of your right elbow. Push your right arm out away from the side of the body. Hold for 30 seconds before switching to the other arm.
Stretch your back by first stretching your arms out
Have your feet planted on the ground, about shoulders-width apart. Slowly bend at the waist, making sure that your back is kept straight. Bend until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. You may repeat this once.
Lastly, stretch your legs
Do this by placing your right foot on top of a rise or a bar (the seat of your bike would also be ideal. Make sure it is upright and stable). Point your toes up. Lean slowly towards your right foot. Hold for 30 seconds then switch legs.