24th September 2007
Aching elbows, creaking knees and a dodgy back? Neck stiff and wrists giving you gyp after a long ride? A bit of careful stretching can make all the difference, so we got registered osteopath Eileen Fox to bend us into shape...
We're none of us getting any younger, but a lot of the aches and pains we get after a long day in the saddle can be avoided by doing a few simple stretches before setting off. Eileen Fox is a registered osteopath who specialises in keeping motorcycle racers' bodies in working order during 24 hour endurance races.
We thought we'd give her a bit of a challenge in the shape of real classic rider and racer Dave Gilbert.
Dave is 49 and has been riding for 24 years. He races a classic Grand Prix TZ Yamaha in the UK and Europe (with help from Capital Motorcycles - we promised to mention that) but the stretches here will help road riders just as much. Over to you, Eileen:
"Before we start, the most important thing to remember when stretching is that You Do Not Bounce to reach the full stretch; you'll tear things that way.
"Take it easy if you've got any old injuries; the idea is to stretch your muscles, not pull your arms out of their sockets, and anyone over the age of 97 should get permission from both their parents before doing these exercises.
"All the stretches here should be done in the following rhythm; stretch for six seconds, relax slightly for two seconds, stretch again for six seconds, relax again for two seconds, then stretch a final time for six seconds. So three lots of stretching for six seconds, with two seconds of relaxation between each stretch.
"This stretch is for the front of the thighs, the quadriceps. You might need someone to lean on for this one. Stand up nice and straight, bring the heel up to the bum and pull your heel in towards your bum.
"You must keep your back upright, and don't push the knee back. You can do it against the wall or with a buddy, but don't try it free standing."
(That's Dave on the left and Eileen on the right. Dave is quite big and Eileen is quite small, as you might have guessed...)
"This is a stretch for the calves. Lean on a wall or door, put one foot slightly in front of the other. Keep the back straight and tuck your bum in. Keep your back heel on the ground, bend the front knee and stretch into the back calf. Don't forget 6 seconds on, 2 seconds off, three times."
"This is a stretch for the insides of the thighs; it helps with mobility on the bike. Sit on your bum, bring the soles of your feet together, gently push the knees down towards the ground."
"A stretch for the bum muscles and outer thighs which will help your movement on the bike. Sit down, put your right hand behind you and bring the right knee up. Put your right foot next to the left knee, and just gently stretch the right knee across to the left (the picture on the left, above).
"Once you've done that, cross the right foot to the other side of the left knee (the picture on the right, above) and again, gently stretch."
"Lower back and bum stretch. Can be done on a chair or on the floor. Bring your knees up to your chest, hug round them and squeeze, lifting your feet off the floor."
"Lower back and side stretch. Stand upright, feet shoulder width apart. Lift one arm up to the sky, and gently drop the other arm towards the knee. Keep looking forwards and do not twist."
"Cross your right arm in front of your body, and put your right arm on the left shoulder. Bring the left hand behind the right elbow and stretch across to stretch the muscles behind the shoulder."
This is for the triceps. You drop your hand behind your head as if you're trying to scratch your back, then reach up with your other hand and gently press the elbow backwards"
"This is for the side of the neck and upper shoulder. Stand square on with your feet shoulder width apart. Gently drop your head so your ear goes towards your shoulder.
"Don't allow the shoulder to come up, and Never let the head drop backwards or forwards.
"This one stretches the middle of the back. Put your hands on opposite shoulders and point the elbows together.
"Now imagine we've just put a big felt-tip pen between the points of the elbows and write six letters in the air. Keep looking in the same direction as your elbows are pointing, like Dave is doing in the picture."
"This is to stretch the fore-arm. Arms straight out and elbow locked. Cock the hand up, and put your other hand into the palm - not the fingers - and stretch upwards.
"Then cock the hand down and do the same thing, stretching on the back of the hand not the fingers"
If you've got an ache or a pain that you think would benefit from Eileen's diagnosis or treatment, you can find out more about what she does on her website, at www.eileenfox.co.uk
And thanks again Dave!
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