Stretching is something that ALL recreational athletes should really work on as I've seen far too many get sidelined after one game.
Stretching is so important to triathlon. Triathlon is not really 3 sports but about 11 or so that go hand in hand. Swimming, biking and running just get showcased at a race as the culmination of maximum effort at all of these foundational steps.
Coming back to stretching, stretching helps keep us injury-free, limber, and maintains proper circulation throughout the body. This is crucial for triathletes because we are training everyday, therefore; tightening our muscles everyday. Over time this tightness will add up and reduce our range of motion. Reduced range of motion leads to less powerful movements, less than satisfactory workouts and a higher risk of injuries. Because of this we MUST MUST MUST stretch at least twice on every day that we workout.
This is so important for not only the race but arguably more important for the workouts leading up to the race. Less range of motion-->Less efficient/improper technique--->less efficient workouts and possibly injury. And as many know injury derails training schedules and sometimes races when they get severe.
So with this I hope to hammer home stretching because it is so VITAL in this sport as well as all other sports.
There are two types of stretching:
Static and Dynamic (kind of like engineering physics, with the same overall principle)
Static stretching is the stand-still-and-hold-it kind. These are preferable when your not about to do a workout, such as before bed, or right after a workout.
For a good static stretch hold the position for AT LEAST 30 seconds. The reason behind this is that the muscle you are stretching reflexes and does not fully relax due to built-in wiring to protect itself from injury. Just like a cat exploring new territory, its cautious at first. After 30 seconds, this reflex relaxes and real stretching can begin.
Dynamic stretching is the active kind such as doing lunges while emphasizing the stretch in the quadriceps. These are preferable in the warm-up before a workout.
For a good dynamic stretch do them slowly and ease into the stretch. DO NOT , absolutely do not "bounce" in your stretches it does not help at all as the muscle contracts more so to protect it self. Again the nerves help to protect the muscles. Much like static stretching this reflex arc can be circumvented by easing into it and building up from slow to fast movement in dynamic stretching.
Key muscles for triathletes are in no particular order
- bottom of your feet
- gastrocnemius (upper calf)
- Soleus (lower calf)
- Achilles Tendon
- Quadriceps (all sides)
- Hip Flexors
- Rotator Cuff
- Rhomboids: your upper back
- Trapezius (traps)
- Latissumis dorsi (lats)
- Lower back
This guy has a good 3 part series on stretching for Triathletes