Howdy- I post this article several times a year. My hope is that it presents some useful information in a less biased manner. I share this information when individuals inquire about the benefits of using embrocation. Obviously we believe there are many benefits to using our handcrafted embrocations, but this serves as great starting point. Thank you Mr. Freed! As allows we welcome all questions. Thank you for stopping by the blog. If racing this week, “race, eyeballs out”, and have a blast!
The goal of pre-ride massage is to manually warm the muscles and tendons, helping to eliminate a cold start. It makes the warm-up time on the bike more efficient and decreases the time it takes to warm up to difficult efforts. When a therapist is available pre-ride, certainly take advantage of it. For most, that will be only a distant luxury. The pre-ride self-massage will be advantageous as well, improving circulation to tendons and ligaments and breaking adhesions in the muscles. Adhesions are muscle fibers that bundle up and need to be separated to improve freedom of movement. A proper pre-ride self-massage leaves the legs warm and invigorated.
Plan on spending about 10 minutes on the pre-ride massage, roughly one minute per muscle group.
After a long, sometimes grueling ride, the body begs for recovery. Legs take the brunt of the punishment — cramping and general soreness is the most common result. The upper body also takes a beating because of the unnatural posture required for serious cycling.
“The most common problem area during the ride is probably the quads,” said Julie Arrowood, a Colorado therapist who has worked on the multi-day Ride the Rockies tour for many years. “The pedaling motion, especially during the steep climbs, puts tremendous strain on that area. The upper back and shoulders also require a lot of attention. If it’s a head-wind day with a lot of climbing, the lower back and gluts are the most common complaint. The climbs can lead to a lot of cramping. Some people need work on their knees. We don’t get a lot of injuries, just a lot of sore muscles. Most participants in Ride the Rockies are in pretty good shape. They know their bodies pretty well. They also realize getting worked on regularly by a therapist can really help them make it through the week in better shape.”
A post-activity massage for almost any athlete improves recovery time by allowing fluids and toxins to be moved out of the interstitial spaces between muscle fibers, and allowing blood flow, oxygen and nutrients an opportunity to get back in. An increase of blood flow and nutrient to the muscles naturally translates to better recovery.
In the case of more serious injuries, massage can have the same effect. Swelling caused by an injury, and the production of non-flexible scar tissue, can “pinch” the flow of blood to the injured area. Athletes suffering ankle sprains or other joint strains will find massage can speed recovery by sending more blood and nutrients to the injured area.
Swelling is the evil anti-recovery agent. Whether it is caused by traumatic injury or micro-trauma to the muscle fibers during exertion, it should be treated with cold (cryotherapy), not heat. Heat increases swelling, cold decreases swelling. Therefore, no matter how inviting that hot tub looks, or how good it may feel, stay away from it. The heat will slow recovery.
Freelance writer Doug Freed is one of the active and aging baby boomers mentioned in this story. He has the aches, pains, bumps and bruises to prove it. A weekly massage is high on his wish list.