Motocross Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Motocross stretching exercises to improve your performance and do away with motocross injuries for good.
by Brad Walker | First Published June 5, 2010 | Updated August 11, 2017
Motocross was preceded by the British sport scrambling, the first event of which was held at Camberley, Surrey in 1924. The sport gained in popularity in the 1930’s. Bikes used were the normal ones in use in England. Gradually, the frame and suspension were improved and made sturdier. In the 1950’s, the first aerodynamic sport bike, similar to present ones, hit the international market.
In 1966, Motocross came to the United States at Hopetown, Simi Valley, California. It was an exhibition ride by Swedish champion Torsten Hallman against American riders. In 1967, Hallman returned with more European champions with their two-stroke, lightweight bikes.
Japanese bike manufacturers entered the racing world in the 1960’s. Suzuki dominated the 1970 competitions and sponsored one of the first stadium competitions in Los Angeles in 1972. American riders too caught up in the 1980’s.
The subdivisions in Motocross today are as under:
- Supercross and Arenacross – Held in indoor arenas;
- Freestyle – Riders are judged on jumping and aerial acrobatic skills;
- Supermoto – Held both on the tarmac as well as off road and
- The vintage – Uses bikes from earlier eras to compete.
Any road race dealing with bikes calls for a lot of cardiovascular and muscular endurance, for which an overall good muscle tone is necessary. According to most riders on the motocross circuit, the following muscle groups are the most important to concentrate on:
- The Core Muscles: the rectus abdominus, the obliques, hip flexors and spinal erectors are responsible for maintaining a good riding posture and preventing lower back injury. They act as a base of support for the rest of the body while riding.
- The Muscles of the Arms and Shoulders: deltoids, biceps and triceps, as well as those in the forearm, wrist and hand are important for maintaining control of the bike during stunts and over rough terrain, as well as while performing emergency manoeuvres during competitions.
Strength training is an effective way to keep all of these muscles at their best but special attention must be paid to the core muscles. Weak core muscles can alter the posture of a rider and put more stress upon the shoulders, arms and legs, which can cause them to fatigue more quickly.
Most Common Motocross Injuries
Motocross is arguably one of the most dangerous sports ever: high speeds, rough terrain and the uncertainty of what the other riders may be doing. While the high excitement factor may seem nerve wracking to some, it is an adrenaline fix to others.
The recent releases of better quality helmets for this sport has resulted in considerably reducing the number of serious head injuries in motocross. The more common injuries in this sport are thankfully minor. Motocross bikers think nothing of cuts, scrapes and bruises or ankle or wrist sprains; however, there are potentially serious injuries to be aware of and some the most common related to this sport include ACL tears, shoulder injuries, ankle sprains and broken collarbones.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears (ACL): This sport definitely puts some extreme stress on the knee. Falls, getting thrown from the bike or rough landings can cause severe knee injuries, particularly tears of the ACL. Without the stability provided for the knee by the ACL, any motocross manoeuvre becomes difficult to handle.
- Shoulder Dislocation: A dislocation happens when the head of the humerus bone completely pops out of the socket. The more this happens, the more frequently it will pop out. It can usually be relocated with only minor trauma, and there will be pain and muscle aches for a short time afterward.
- Shoulder Subluxation: A subluxation is the feeling that the shoulder is sliding out of its socket, and then immediately sliding back into place. This can happen in multiple directions and medical treatment is recommended. Some people are more “loosely” jointed than others and this condition may wind up being a recurring one if your joints are determined to be looser than normal.
- Rotator Cuff Tear: A torn rotator cuff usually occurs with repeated trauma to the shoulder. Non-surgical treatment will include non-steroid anti-inflammatory therapy coupled with physical therapy and cortisone shots. Should the tear be more than this simple treatment can fix, then a minimally invasive arthroscopy will be performed to reattach the muscles and tendons in the shoulder to the rotator cuff. Weeks of physical therapy and anti-inflammatory or cortisone shots will follow the surgery.
- Broken Collarbone: Flying off of the bike will often cause the clavicle, or collarbone, to be broken, cracked, and may even separate it from the shoulder. Most of these will not require surgery but it will require abstaining from competing until you heal. Cryotherapy (cold therapy), done both inside and outside the doctor’s office, can help heal collarbone injuries quickly.
- Ankle Sprains: An ankle sprain typically occurs when you put your foot down the wrong way when coming off a turn. Usually ankle sprains are not too severe and can be easily treated by wearing an ankle support while it heals.
Injury Prevention Strategies
First and foremost, donning the safety gear (including proper clothing, helmet and protective padding) is the most important step a rider should take to keep severe injuries at bay. Other injury prevention strategies include:
- Any sport that calls for physical exertion requires the sportsperson to perform the necessary warm up routine before completely indulging. Warm ups “awaken” the muscles preparing them for the oncoming streak of excessive and rigorous muscle movements. It is very important to include stretches in your warm up routine. Stretching out the muscles of the back, shoulders, wrists and knees prior to competing is crucial to prevention of sprains and strains.
- Over exercising is never good for the body or the performance of a racer. Many harbor this misconception that the more they exercise, the better they are bound to perform, but this is untrue. The body requires its share of rest and relaxation. Pushing the body beyond its limit for too long will only lead to more and more injuries.
- Utilize proper exercise and strength training during the off-season, especially strengthening those muscles that take the most punishment during a race.
- Learn to fall properly; the majority of injuries that occur in sports like this happen when the rider falls off the bike. Tumbling and gymnastics classes will teach you how to be more flexible and relaxed while falling.
The Top 3 Motocross Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for motocross; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions below each stretch.
Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.
Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.
Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
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About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.