Author Topic: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?  (Read 669 times)

Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« on: December 31, 2019, 09:28:33 am »
I noticed again yesterday that, despite attending Pilates classes regularly for 15 years, I have severely restricted flexibility in my legs.  There are all sorts of positions that I simply can't reach while others (even beginners) find no problem.  Hamstring stretches (lying on back with straight legs in a strap pulling upwards) is one example.  Another would be the inability to lean forward from the waist if sitting straight-legged on the floor.  Also my legs don't straighten - there is always a significant bend at the knee.

I'm wondering if this could be, at least partially, as a result of cycling?

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2019, 10:03:16 am »
Are you male? Are you comparing yourself to females, whose joints tend to be more flexible?
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Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2019, 10:13:57 am »
Cycling shortens hamstrings, and tightens hip flexors. Try yoga.

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2019, 10:19:48 am »
I understand that as muscles strengthen the fibres shorten and the result is less flexibility, men generally have stronger muscles so tend to be less flexible.  Don't think there is any reason why men can't be as flexible, but probably need to work at it a lot more.

I also do Pilates from time to time (only bloke in a class of women)  and yes I do notice how inflexible I am in comparison to others.  I'm not too bad with the ham stretches, but this sitting with legs stretch out and leaning forward, I'm utterly hopeless at that and never seem to improve  (it could be a spinal thing with me) 
 

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2019, 10:53:54 am »
I saw someone with a typical old cyclist posture* recently at a funeral (aptly enough).  For whatever reason, it seems to be rare nowadays.

*Bent knees, straight back but not upright, hunched shoulders & neck.

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2019, 11:00:22 am »
Completely depends on you and your cycling. If you're a track cyclist who does a lot of diverse weight training etc you'll have different physiology to someone who solely bashes out thousands of kms in trundle yearly.

I'm going to start weight training in the new year (yeah yeah yeah new year new me bla bla bla, only reason I'm not starting sooner is that I'm doing the festive 500) in part with an aim to prevent these kinds of problems. I'll be back doing the starting strength routine i.e. 3*5 squats, 3*5 bench press/standing press, 1*5 dead lifts 3x weekly which should help keep this kind of thing at bay.
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Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2019, 11:05:41 am »
Are you male? Are you comparing yourself to females, whose joints tend to be more flexible?

Yes, but there are other men in the classes who have significantly more flexibility, despite seemingly otherwise less active and generally "fit".

My legs are probably fairly typical for a big-miles cyclist - prominent quads, chunky calves, etc.

I do regular gym strength training also. Goblet squats, leg presses, leg extensions, etc.

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2019, 11:41:53 am »
Are you male? Are you comparing yourself to females, whose joints tend to be more flexible?

Yes, but there are other men in the classes who have significantly more flexibility, despite seemingly otherwise less active and generally "fit".

My legs are probably fairly typical for a big-miles cyclist - prominent quads, chunky calves, etc.

I do regular gym strength training also. Goblet squats, leg presses, leg extensions, etc.

I'm afraid it's just what happens - my main problem is in my hips.   I only started pilates 3 years ago after 20 years of long distance riding.   I've developed a bit more flexibility but I've just had to accept I'll never get to be able to bend as much as I should be able to.

Zed43

  • prefers UK hills over Dutch mountains
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2019, 11:57:15 am »
Cycling (much) is not helping getting flexible in your hamstrings, that's for sure. Neither does sitting at a desk / on a couch for many hours a day.

You may have a posterior pelvic tilt (generalisation: this is the more common type for men) which also is not helping your forward bends. And then of course there's also age, which may not directly cause inflexibility, but may mean getting more flexible takes longer. Could also be that your fascia (the connective tissues) is tight and limiting your range of movement.

"Pilates classes regularly for 15 years" sounds a lot, but if this is 1 hour / week it may just be not enough when you have many hours of "shortening" activities  ;)

When I started doing Pilates twice a week I could just touch my ankles (with knees straight, obviously) and after a year I could touch my toes. Now, another 2 1/2 years later doing Ashtanga 5-6 times a week, I can put my hands flat on the floor. Progress is slow ;D  (and yes, I too can get a little envious when someone shows the same progress in mere months...)


Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2019, 06:27:13 pm »
I am exactly the same.

However, even one hour of Pilates a week is not stretching as the ballet dancers, etc reckon.  My teacher is a retired ballet dancer and talks about how they used to stretch each muscle for 5 minutes!.

As a Plastic Surgeon i would say that to get significant movement in terms of soft tissue you probably need to be load cycling for 10 minutes with 1 minute off stretch then 20 seconds relaxation and so on.  I have neither the time nor the pain tolerance to do this (usually my patients are anaesthetised!)


Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2019, 07:32:11 pm »
"Pilates classes regularly for 15 years" sounds a lot, but if this is 1 hour / week it may just be not enough when you have many hours of "shortening" activities  ;)

Sometimes 2 or 3 classes on a good week  ;) 

But yes, point taken.  It's still not a lot in the order of things and is far outweighed by "shortening" activities.  If I was serious about improvement then I'd be spending a lot more time with daily stretches.  Mind you, I've taken to having my legs raised of an evening while relaxing.  ;D

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2020, 11:18:59 am »
just 5-10mins of daily stretching of those tight muscles/tendons will make a massive difference over the year.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2020, 11:40:03 am »
just 5-10mins of daily stretching of those tight muscles/tendons will make a massive difference over the year.

Which stretches do you recommend?

I'm still in search of a good way to stretch the glutes that can be done in public without being indecent...

J
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zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2020, 12:17:55 pm »
just 5-10mins of daily stretching of those tight muscles/tendons will make a massive difference over the year.

Which stretches do you recommend?

I'm still in search of a good way to stretch the glutes that can be done in public without being indecent...

J

any stretches that work the tight muscles. for glutes i found a pigeon pose is most effective - you can really feel it! the important thing is not to do any "springing", just lean until it hurts, relax, hold for 30s, lean more, hold, lean more, hold...

i wouldn't do stretching in public.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2020, 12:57:03 pm »

i wouldn't do stretching in public.

On long rides I like to stretch if I stop for any significant period (i.e. Lunch). Only takes a minute or so, and makes me feel better.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2020, 01:52:09 pm »
any stretches that work the tight muscles. for glutes i found a pigeon pose is most effective - you can really feel it! the important thing is not to do any "springing", just lean until it hurts, relax, hold for 30s, lean more, hold, lean more, hold...


Is that the reclining pigeon (on your back) or the full frontal version?

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2020, 02:42:16 pm »
any stretches that work the tight muscles. for glutes i found a pigeon pose is most effective - you can really feel it! the important thing is not to do any "springing", just lean until it hurts, relax, hold for 30s, lean more, hold, lean more, hold...


Is that the reclining pigeon (on your back) or the full frontal version?

this is the full pigeon routine, leaning forward part stretches the glute of the bent leg the most (must be my favourite yoga pose). as will all stretching it's important not to force yourself too much to avoid tear injuries.

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2020, 03:25:05 pm »
this is the full pigeon routine, leaning forward part stretches the glute of the bent leg the most (must be my favourite yoga pose). as will all stretching it's important not to force yourself too much to avoid tear injuries.

As I feared  :o ;D

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2020, 03:36:24 pm »
any stretches that work the tight muscles. for glutes i found a pigeon pose is most effective - you can really feel it! the important thing is not to do any "springing", just lean until it hurts, relax, hold for 30s, lean more, hold, lean more, hold...


Is that the reclining pigeon (on your back) or the full frontal version?

this is the full pigeon routine, leaning forward part stretches the glute of the bent leg the most (must be my favourite yoga pose). as will all stretching it's important not to force yourself too much to avoid tear injuries.

I have absolutely no choice but to fo this stretch regularly. If I dont I can only pedal hard for about an hour before the top right glute cramps and the pain spreads to my lower back.

I did about 3-5 classes a week of yoga and pilates for several years, then stopped last June.

Now I feel like I'm falling apart. Back to it monday.

Re: Lack of flexibility in legs - cycling?
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2020, 04:58:48 am »
this is the full pigeon routine, leaning forward part stretches the glute of the bent leg the most (must be my favourite yoga pose). as will all stretching it's important not to force yourself too much to avoid tear injuries.

As I feared  :o ;D

Iron Cross stretch is good for people with tight glutes/hamstrings. It's not a pure glute/hamstring strech, but will certainly hit the glutes, which may help you get to the hamstrings. It also works wonders on your lower back.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24nPU3J_1e8

Vary the angle of the leg/knee for stretching various points and you can assist by placing your hand on your knee too.