• Mark Turnbull

Correct post ride cool down

There are a number of studies that address the best protocol for warm-up but few that have evaluated the effects of stretching as a recovery method post ride or competition. Miladi et al. (2011) noted that dynamic stretching is an effective method for improving performance, cardiorespiratory measures, and lactate levels during intermittent supramaximal intensity tests in cycling. Further reports have reported that low-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling at 20 percent of VO2max, is a method that facilitates performance recovery during intermittent high-intensity cycling exercise (Dorado, Sanchís-Moysi, and Calbet 2004) or after the completion of dynamic exercise to fatigue (Mika et al. 2007). You are no doubt aware that Team Sky introduced this technique several years ago, it is now a practice that all leading cycling teams employ.

With this in mind, dynamic stretching (not static) is recommended as a part of warm-up, immediately before the main part of the training, or as a recovery method between high-intensity series. Therefore, static stretching should be performed after the main activity as a cool-down or relaxation method after exercise (Peck et al. 2014). Resistance is normally achieved through the force of gravity on the limb or on the body weighing down on it.

In road cycling, low-intensity cycling for the first part of the ride could be used as a specific warm-up without the need to perform dynamic stretching exercises. Although not formally considered stretching, the cat - camel exercise (see below) is a motion exercise recommended for cyclists to use before mounting the bicycle to decrease the intra articular viscosity of the spine (internal resistance and friction), improve spinal load distribution, and minimize spinal stress. The emphasis is on motion in the ranges of flexion and extension with the integration of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. The recommendation is to perform five to eight cycles to reduce most viscous-frictional stresses (McGill 2007)

Cyclist performing the cat - camel exercise: (a) cat; (b) camel. José M. Muyor

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