Flexibility. This is a very important subject. When you think of flexibility do you think of the Olympic gymnasts doing crazy things? If you think of inflexibility, do you picture the super muscly guys who can't bend over to tie their shoes? I listen to a lot of fitness and dirt bike podcasts and read a lot but I don't come across articles about flexibility very often and I'm not sure why.
What is the definition of flexibility? Range of motion as well as the “ability to adapt successfully to challenges to motor control, strength, balance, coordination, endurance, and mental and emotional focus”.* In other words, all the things you need to successfully ride your dirt bike.
Why should flexibility be part of our training? Think about your daily routine, do you sit all day, do you stand all day, do you do repetitive motions all day? I used to sit at a desk all day, that repetitive sitting caused my hip flexor muscles to shorten and become tight and stiff to the point I was having constant knee and groin muscle pain and injuries. Now my gym workouts, dirt bike days and rest days almost always start and end with stretching all the things. Why almost always, well I'm human and sometimes I forget. When muscles are tight, they pull on opposing muscles, weakening them and not allowing for the full use of the muscle. Stretching will allow the full use of the muscles. Think about doing squats, can you flex all the way to ground? Do you regularly stretch your quads, calves, hip flexor and glutes? Adding stretching to all of these muscle groups will allow for a fuller range of motion in a squat. We don't have to do the splits but being able to do a full squat is part of being flexible and an important part of dirt bike riding.
How important is flexibility for dirt bike riders? Think about going around a corner, sitting forward on the seat, leg outstretched, and you catch a stump. If you have loose flexible muscles in your leg, it may just swing back and you continue on your way. If you have tight hip flexors, hamstrings or quads and your leg is snapped back, those inflexible tight muscles are susceptible to injury and your day of riding may be over. I'm 5’2”, while I have had my suspension lowered and tuned for my weight and height, I still need flexibility to get my leg over the seat or be able to touch the ground. I also need to be flexible enough to lift my bike off the ground as I have short arms. Think back to the ability to squat I mentioned earlier. Being able to hold that squat while standing on the pegs of my bike, with my knees bent, while traversing some gnarly terrain, allows me to ride as aggressively as I need to so I can get through those rough spots.
I could write for days about this subject but I'm going to keep it short because I want you to get flexible and discover the benefits of being flexible not just to ride a dirt bike but to build strength, protect joints and make your everyday tasks easier. Don't forget, the FitRiders program focuses on stretching and flexibility, especially when it comes to the muscle groups used most by us riders.
* Foundations of Personal Training, 2nd edition, 2016, p. 126
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.