Warming up and stretching, especially import during the winter.Winter is here and although it may not get that cold, you should still respect the fact that it directly affects your body. As you may remember from my “Winter Leg Training” article, I start off my routine with a 5 minute warm-up and stretch prior to any weight lifting. Now in the gym you are in a very controlled setting and you can scientifically increase your intensity accordingly. This is not the case outdoors before your cold morning bike ride or that single speed night ride.
The warm up is a crucial part of starting any mountain bike ride especially since we usually will start off climbing up a mountain for the first part of the ride. You should not under estimate the fact that a good warm up and stretch could prevent a sports injury. Warming up the muscles prior to strenuous bike ride is beneficial in several ways. You increase your circulation and prepare your muscle to work more effectively. You also stimulate the joints to loosen up and become more pliable.
Now for the stretching, I will list and define three types.
1. Static stretching. The body is positioned to where a group of muscles is stretched under tension then relaxed and slowly and cautiously greater tension is used to further the stretch. This should be done for all of you major muscle groups for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Dynamic stretching. This type of stretching has a higher risk of injury and should be done only after you have the experience or are under the supervision of a professional. This type of stretching involves a controlled swinging motion of a particular body part past its usual range of motion. The force or bounce is increased but remains controlled and not exaggerated.
3. Sport specific/personal warm-up and stretch. You know how you felt during your last ride and what muscle groups where aggravated and may have diminished your performance. Focus some time to give these body parts a longer warm up and some added stretches.
This should have you prepared and ready to hammer up the mountain. At least that should be your goal. Stretching is often neglected and even forgotten until that sports injury occurs. Think about it like this. Flexibility has been proven to increase athletic performance and prevent injury. But must be worked at, like any other exercise it does not come naturally. Take the time and your body will thank you for it.