Avid Utah Bike Rider Finds Pain Relief Through Regular Stretching

Mar 29, 2019, 6:55 PM | Updated: 8:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Making time for exercise — whether that’s hitting the gym or going for a run — isn’t always easy, but adding one more regimen to your workout could be worth an extra five minutes.

Fred Larsen, 76, is an avid bike rider. Today, he’s at BikeFitr adjusting a second bike before the spring riding season starts.

He rode with his wife for more than 40 years before she passed away several years ago. Soon after, Larsen started experiencing knee pain during his ride.

“I was thinking, I’m gonna have to hang up the bikes,” he said. It was a devastating thought — one “that makes tears come.”

Fortunately, Larsen visited Intermountain Healthcare’s Joel Nuttall, a physical therapist at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), who told him the pain was muscle related. “I was really, really tight,” Larsen said.

He found the solution to be much simpler than he anticipated—stretching!

“He assured me right away. This was not my knee. He says, ‘Your knees are good. This is a muscle issue,’” Larsen said. “What a relief!”

Larsen said stretching has made all the difference. In just ten days, he was pain free.

“Suddenly I’m riding and there’s no pain,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Whoa!’”

Nuttall said there are three easy screens people can try at home to figure out where they are tight.

  1. Quads:Grab your shin in front of you and pull your ankle behind your rear with your knee parallel to your other knee, and try to stand up tall without slouching.
  2. Calves:Keep your heels flat on the ground as you squat down. Try to get below horizontal with your heels on the floor.
  3. Hamstrings:Lie down on your back and try to bring your leg as straight and vertical as you can.

Nuttall said there are different types of stretching which are appropriate for different activities. He said dynamic stretching is important before exercise.

“Dynamic stretching is taking your muscles and joints through full range of motion, but without holding it there,” Nuttall explained. Examples include shoulder rolls or lunges.

“You don’t want relaxed muscles when you play [sports]– you want loose and warm muscles,” he added. “You’re basically saying, ‘Get ready to work.’”

However, static stretching is best post workout.

“That’s more of the yoga classic yoga, where you’re putting your muscles in a stretch position, and you’re leaving it there,” Nuttall said. Examples include leaning over and touching your toes or holding a quad stretch for 30 seconds.

He said static stretching helps the muscle recover and maintain flexibility going into the next workout. However, stretching statically before a workout could relax the muscle resulting in decreased strength or power while exercising or playing a sport.

Overall, Nuttall said stretching can improve flexibility, prevent injury and relieve tension.

“Almost didn’t want to believe that it was that easy,” Larsen said. “But it was that easy.”

Now, Larsen has no intention of giving up his bikes. “Your body is the only place you have to live. Take care of it,” he said. “You have control over what your future is going to be.”

Nuttall said you don’t always have to be warm before you stretch statically. He said if you work a desk job, standing up and stretching your quads can be a great routine.

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Avid Utah Bike Rider Finds Pain Relief Through Regular Stretching