Stretching vs strength exercises

I’ve had an injury for past 14 months. My first port of call was sports physio. I have had good results in the past. I’m prone to imbalances in leg strength. When one leg is weaker than the other, it can cause problems elsewhere in the body. Several years ago, I had a bad knee problem which ruined a few seasons. The physio was very good in diagnosing weak leg. Strengthening exercises solved the problem.

This year the troublesome leg has also been weaker – at least 25% measured on a leg press. So I have been doing leg exercises to make the right leg stronger. But, even after a few months of physio and leg strengthening, the problem persists. Now, there is no imbalance in strength, so I went back to an osteopath. His diagnosis was that a lot of the muscles in the right leg were very tight. To him massage and stretching were key. If a muscle is very tight, strengthening it can make it even more taught. When there is lack of flexibility, it can cause over muscles to be overworked.

So, that’s current situation. Trying to strengthen legs (physio) and stretching the muscles out afterwards. Hopefully, between the two, it will clear up soon.

Stretching is something I have always paid lip-service to in the past. One of those things I may say on a blog – a good thing to do. But, in practice, my efforts were mostly perfunctory. Now, I’m stretching with a lot of discipline and feel it might be helping.

snake-pass-everest

September and October are a great time to be cycling. I miss the hill climb season – even if just the travelling around the country in autumn. Through the hill climb season, I got to see some beautiful parts of the country I never otherwise would have visited.

10 Responses to Stretching vs strength exercises

  1. Dave Miles September 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    If I dont stretch after a ride then my hamstrings shorten and pull the muscles in my lower back. Originally when this happened first I thought that my riding position was wrong but an osteopath diagnosed it. But you’re right in that many of us dont do stretching enough. Hope it gets sorted.

    • tejvan September 25, 2017 at 11:52 am #

      cheers Dave. Good to know.

  2. Artur September 24, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    I remember reading in your blog that you were on the cusp of becoming a veteran racer. You seemed to hint that you were going to take it a lot easier when it came to racing. How much are your injuries a reflection of your mindset? Is your body acting badly because mentally you are just not into it anymore? I think if you direct your mind appropriately your body will find the right answer. I hope stretching is the cure, but if its not check your mind for your drive to cycle competitively. Best of Luck.

    • tejvan September 25, 2017 at 11:52 am #

      There’s maybe something in it. The enthusiasm for stretching is in part a determination to get back into racing.

  3. Simon September 26, 2017 at 8:51 am #

    Often imbalances in one area are a symptom of weakness or an issue elsewhere. A good therapist will know whether a weak leg may in fact be linked to lower back or spinal issues. When one component is weak the body compensates and the pain can surface somewhere else. It doesn’t necessarily help to stretch the muscles that are tense as this won’t fix the problem.

    The psoas, for example, is a key muscle in the lower back. Many people with lower back pain or back/glute/leg issues are showing symptoms of weakness in the psoas or connected muscle groups. Lots of advice and exercsises online, including:
    https://thebalanceguru.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/the-proper-care-and-feeding-of-your-psoas-muscle/
    https://yogainternational.com/article/view/how-to-stretch-and-strengthen-the-psoas
    I’m not saying that this will fix your particular issue but your therapist should understand this.

    • tejvan September 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

      cheers Simon – useful links

  4. Kiver October 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    On a related note this study gave me hope that even the small amounts of stretching I do will help, even if it’s not an ideal approach.

    https://twitter.com/SandCResearch/status/840155578601263104

  5. Patanga October 11, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    Hi Tejvan, I can suggest this book, specially when things that should work seem not to work. I had some similar experiences with running.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Health-Healing-Yoga-Selections-Writings/dp/8170580234

    The version I have also includes “Food” on the title, but I suppose the main topics must be almost the same.

  6. Howard October 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Tejvan. 30+ years ago when I was at secondary our PE Teacher got me into stretching, convincing me it would be good for a cyclist – spending so long in one position on the bike. I’ve kept stretching ever sine and the only injury I’ve ever has was during my first 12hr TT when my right hip became tight – I soon got that sorted with more stretching! 10 – 20 minutes a few days a week is easily done, you can do it listening to the radio,watching TV. It’s free, no kit required, just a bit of space. I strongly recommend it. PS, my PE Teacher ended up being a Gladiator, so how can you ignore him – http://www.gladiatorstv.com/gladiators/classic-itv/raider/

    • tejvan October 29, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

      cheers Howard, Will keep up the stretching

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