Q: In years past, I’ve consistently ridden 2,500-3,000 miles. This year I’ve done just 400 and have noticed was how much flexibility I’ve lost in my hamstrings. I know stretching has been a subject of debate. What do you recommend? — Steve H.
COACH FRED: You’re right that stretching can be a contentious issue. In fact, some studies have shown a higher incidence of injury among those who stretch compared to non-stretchers!
I think that flexibility is important, not so much for riding (although it helps you achieve a comfortable position on the bike) but for general, functional strength and well-being. If we let ourselves get progressively tighter as we age, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the process.
I recommend daily stretching. It doesn’t have to be a formal program. Simply sit on the floor while you’re watching TV and do various basic stretches. If you don’t know which ones are best for cyclists, check Bob Anderson’s classic book Stretching at bookstores or on the website. Bob’s an excellent rider, so he knows exactly what we need.