When you go for a ride after work and you have limited time before other responsibilities call, it’s very easy to skip out on the warm up. You are in a hurry, you want to make the most of the time you have and shaving off the 10 minutes of stretching could mean hitting one more trail.
Here’s the thing about that, though: you need to warm up. Your body needs to be stretched and limber before you attack that killer climb or you throw your bike down that super technical downhill run. While a warm-up won’t burn calories, your physio will thank you if you are using your time well. So, if you’re still on the fence about your warm-ups and cool downs, here are some reasons to take the time to warm-up.
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Increase Body Temperature
The warm-up that you do is there to help your body temperature to go up. This will help your muscles, as the warmer they are, the more oxygen is available. You will notice that they contract more easily, relax faster and feel less strained with each exercise movement. A warm-up also raises your heart rate, which gives it a chance to get ready for the onslaught of exercise you’re about to subject it to. Have you ever hit a steep climb straight out of the car park and felt like dying for the first 10 minutes? That’s because your body is basically in a state of shock having gone from nice and relaxed sat in the car to intense strain pushing. Taking 10 minutes to stretch, or even just rolling around the car park would have got it better prepared for the work to come.
Lower Injury Risk
When you exercise on muscles that are not yet warmed up, you risk them tearing and straining where they shouldn’t strain. The last thing that you need is an injury and a warm-up will improve the elasticity of your muscles so that you won’t hurt yourself or overheat during the ride. You also reduce the worry of pulled knees or torn ligaments if you warm up properly.
You’ll Feel Like It
You cannot often rely on motivation to go for a workout. You have to feel mentally ready for one and a warm-up gets you feeling that buzz of exercise. Your warm-up is like the act before the big show at a concert - you get hyped and ready to hear the music you paid for. Warm-ups get you hyped!
Increasing Your Flexibility
Stretching helps you to increase your flexibility. You’ll be able to increase the blood flowing to the muscles and your whole body will thank you for the ability to move better. You can move with more precision. PT’s even recommend a daily routine of stretching to help improve mobility and flexibility. The more flexible you can be on the bike the easier you will find it to get around those tight turns, to name but one advantage.
The warm-up that you choose can include anything from slow and gentle stretches to riding around the car park or a flat section of trail to jogging on the spot for a few minutes. You can even do some static stretches to move better and feel more secure in the bike ride you’re about to do. There are so many benefits to warming up and it will help you to better enjoy your bike rides. Don’t be afraid to download some warm-up routines as well as workouts before you get to the gym: they will change the way you feel on the bike!
Don’t just take our word for it, go check out 10 suggested stretches for mountain bikers on the GMBN Youtube channel.