SPEAR Sports Injury and Physiotherapy offer a physio bikefit service, run by chartered physiotherapist, Ashley Armstrong. In this blog, Ashley shares the benefits of warming up before a cycling session and highlights the main reasons why a cool down is just as important!
A warm up and cool down is beneficial when doing any form of exercise and cycling is no exception, but having spoken to many of my cyclist patients about this, is seems it is overlooked by many! Even though their chosen hobby/sport means regularly being in one position for long periods of time.
There are many benefits of a warm up, these include:
- Increasing muscle temperature which in turn helps to enhance muscle contraction
- Preparing the body mentally- giving you time to prepare for the session ahead
- Increases the core temperature which increases the speed of nerve impulses in turn increasing reaction time
- Reduces injury risk by releasing adrenaline which helps to increase muscle elasticity
I’d recommend dynamic warm ups as opposed to static stretches before a cycle and for a cyclists this means the best option for a warm up is to do it on the bike! The first 10-15 minutes of your cycle should involve working up through the gears and increasing your cadence, this will help to increase the heart rate and get your legs turning.Why should you cool down?
- It helps return the body to its pre-exercise state, by aiding in recovery and muscle adaptations
- Helps to prepare the body for the next session, whether that be tomorrow or next week
- Reduces the heart rate gradually while blood continues to circulate the body, which helps to remove waste products from the muscles while bringing oxygen and nutrients to them
- Your body will become stiff after being on the bike in one position for hours, stretching will help to return to normal range of movement
Ideally your cool down would involve 5-10 minutes of stretching as soon as you come off your bike, however we live in Scotland and this isn’t always practical – particularly if you’re coming off the bike cold and wet! In these circumstances, I would advise that once you’re home you have a warm shower and get on dry clothes before you stretch.The cool down differs from the warm up in that the stretches should be static with holds for each stretch being 20-30 seconds – never into pain just to the point of tension. The main muscles that would benefit from a stretch post-cycle include:
- Thoracic spine
- Lumbar spine
- Hip flexors