1. A reminder of the importance of recovery
If you want to get better at cycling, avoid injury , and feel good after you've been out for a ride, then recovering properly is essential. The body needs time to recuperate and your muscles need time to relax. We tell you why it is so important to recover and give you a few tips on how to ensure you stick at your recovery routine.
2. An example of a four-step post-bike-ride recovery routine
Here are our suggestions for recovering from a bike ride or a session on the exercise bike.
- A little light stretching (which will also help bring you back to a state of calm); 15-20 seconds of light stretching per muscle (you're aiming to feel a stretch, but not a big one). The muscles you might want to stretch here are your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, and, depending on how you feel, your lumbar muscles, trapezius and forearms too. These stretches will help you reduce muscle tension and to feel a little more relaxed (they're useful and then there's also the fact that you won't recover properly if your muscles are very tight and tense). Stretching also reduces the risk of you getting cramps in the next phase: the cold bath.
- Taking a bath in water at a temperature of between 50°F and 60°F for 10 to 15 minutes will help combat stiffness and lower your body temperature, which will be useful if you've been on a long, hard ride and/or if temperatures are high, which is often the case when you're cycling.
The fact that it's only your legs that need to recover is convenient because you don't need to have a full bath. It's easier to come across a bathtub or some kind of recipient you can fit your lower body in.
- Once you've relaxed and "cooled down", the next step is to massage yourself with a roller. Stretching loosens your muscles, which makes massaging them less painful, while subjecting them to cold water will also help in this respect.
Use a roller to massage your calves, hamstrings and quads. Spend 2-3 minutes on each muscle. With some muscles, such as the calves, you can do both sides at the same time to save time, provided that you put enough pressure on the muscle.
As with stretching, you can massage other muscles too, depending on how you feel: glutes, TFL, lumbar muscles, etc.
- You can finish off by wearing a pair of compression socks (or stockings) for a few hours. This will help reduce stiffness and muscle tightness and won't take up any more of your time.
So that's you basic four-step routine. Don't forget the three basics either: sleep, food and water.