Stretch Your Training

Arielle Martin is one of the top female BMX riders in the world. At her level, the sport requires incredible conditioning, with finesse being just as important as strength and quickness. But BMX is a summer sport, hard to do on snowy terrain. How does she stay in competitive shape during winter?

"I snowboard. I can ride anything, I love challenging terrain, and I'm not afraid of speed. I can shred," she says, laughing. She adds that snowriding, whether skiing or snowboarding, is good cross training for any kind of biking, especially the adrenaline jumps of BMX. "I think there's a little bit of cross over as far as fear factor goes. But mostly it's good for the legs."

If you can't get to the slopes, Martin advises going to a gym for a spinning class. She says, "You're still spinning pedals, and you're keeping your legs used to the sensation of pedaling. Spinning is also good for conditioning."

But one of the biggest parts of staying in shape is something that many athletes and weekend warriors skip during winter--stretching. Martin, whose muscles are naturally tight, says that every active person should know how important it is to stretch regularly.

"Stretching is an integral part of any sport. A lot of people think of stretching as staying loose, but it really helps prevent injury. When your muscles are tight, there's a greater chance of you pulling things out of joint. The most common injury is tearing a muscle or tendon because it's too tight," she explains.

A muscle that hasn't been stretched out tends to instantly tighten even more if extended past its limited range of motion. That makes a serious tear or painful pull even more likely.

Martin, who is sponsored by Formula Bicycles and Action Sports Depot--a distributing company for BMX equipment, says, "I always feel tight, so I'm always stretching. I don't spend an hour a day stretching, I'm always stretching for two or three minutes at a time. I like to stretch out my back a lot. If I'm standing at the counter and doing dishes, I'll take a few steps backward and bend at the waist, holding on to the counter top. The whole upper body is elongated doing that, and it stretches the whole back."

She also recommends a standard quad stretch for any active person whose sport requires a lot of leg strength. To do it, bend your foot back and grab your ankle. Slowly and gradually bring your heel up to your butt. This stretches out all the muscles in the front of the thigh.

Most athletes on every level know they can't allow their conditioning to lapse during winter. But Martin, an Olympic level athlete, says that when it comes to conditioning, stretching is one of the most important things you can do. online magazine with cutting edge training articles, and where every sport is an adventure.

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