Last week was National Bike to Work day. Now that Spring is here and the weather is great, more and more cycling enthusiasts are hitting the streets to stay fit and enjoy the great weather. Cycling is wonderful exercise and is fun, too, with the memories from childhood of flying down a hill with the wind whistling in your ears.
Unless you cycle regularly and are in really great shape, suddenly jumping on your bike after a winter of riding the recliner around the living room watching football, you will be tired and sore the first few times you go out. That’s when bicycling and massage come together. Massage helps relieve those tired muscles of their soreness and helps them to stay loose and strong.
The pros have a professional massage therapist on call because they know that a good “rubdown” before a race will help them to perform better and more effectively. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford that luxury, so here are some self-care tips.
For a quick warm-up before a race, sit on a towel, or on the edge of a bed or chair. With your hands on the sides of your thighs, make quick up-and-down motions, loosening your upper-leg muscles as if you were brushing crumbs off your hands. Work your way down your leg, loosening your quadriceps, hamstring, and calf. Switch legs after one minute. Avoid getting any deep massage for the 24 hours preceding a race. as this can irritate nerve endings and cause soreness.
Immediately after a race, you can give yourself a quick post-event massage. Using some massage oil or lotion (olive oil will do), Use your fingers to slowly knead your quads and hamstrings, moving upward from your knee. After a minute or two, reverse direction while applying more pressure. Repeat the process on your other thigh and your lower legs. This will help prevent some of the soreness that you get the day after a race.
Don’t discount a professional massage
While you can work some of the tension out of your own muscles, and your friend/spouse/relative gives good back rubs, there is nothing to compare with massage of a therapist who has been properly trained to work your muscle tissue and know when to go deep or leave things alone. Find a massage therapist in your area that you can trust and visit them regularly. Your body will be happy that you did.