It’s easy to think that racking up endless miles will be beneficial for your cycling performance. You know you’ve trained hard enough when you experience that familiar warm sting in your legs the morning after a hard ride. Pushing yourself beyond your limits is good. But without cycling recovery, you run the risk of overtraining.
Cycling recovery is as vital as the time spent training. When you go on a long bike ride, you stress your body and break down your muscles. Please keep in mind that broken down muscles require repairing. Without rest and recovery, your form gets worse and you stop making progress. You become frustrated with yourself, so you end up training harder. It’s a vicious cycle. Worse, it increases the risk of illness and injury.
These cycling recovery tips will help you bounce back quickly, so you can get back on the road as a faster, stronger cyclist.
While you’re hammering away on your bike, the blood vessels in your legs expand. Blood will pool down in your lower extremities when you stop abruptly. It limits your body’s ability to get oxygen-rich blood. As a result, you feel light-headed.
Don’t just hammer to the garage after a tough ride. You need to cool down. Take a few minutes to spin easy after you’ve throttled your legs with a hard ride.
A cool down helps your blood to be re-distributed throughout the body, minimizing the likelihood of feeling dizzy, nauseous or fainting post ride. In addition, it also helps your body to return to its pre-exercise state and remove metabolic waste products from your muscles.
Increase fluid intake
Just like any other forms of exercise, cycling dehydrates your body. You lose even more fluid when you’re cycling vigorously. As such, it is important to drink water before, during, and after a bike ride.
Dehydration can delay recovery. To ensure proper hydration, drink at least 500ml of water no more than 30 minutes after getting off the bike. If it was a long, intense session, aim to replace 100% of the fluid you lost within 1 to 4 hours of hopping off your bike.
Drink not just to satisfy your thirst, but to replace all the fluids you’ve lost during exhaustive training. Water and sports drinks are smart choices as they can help rehydrate your body. They can also help replenish your vitamins, minerals, and electrolyte levels, which can help speed up recovery. Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they promote fluid loss.
When you ride, you burn a combination of glycogen from carbohydrate and fat for fuel. The harder and longer you ride, the more fuel your body is going to burn. Your body is going to continue burning calories, even when you’re already in cycling recovery mode.
Eating may be the last thing on your mind after a long, hard ride. You may think that downing a recover drink is enough to truly replenish your carbohydrate stores. It’s not. Make sure that you sit down for a meal within an hour of a ride to optimize the recovery process.
What you consume when you get off your bike will have an effect on your recovery. A meal that contains complex carbohydrates, protein, and some fat will help you feel fired up and ready to ride soon again.
Take a rest to minimize cycling recovery time
As mentioned above, recovery is as important as training. That said, we highly recommend that you schedule rest into your training plan.
Most people assume that they’ll lose progress if they take a rest day. That’s not true! When you ask your body to jump right back into performance mode too soon, you may end up slowing your progress, which will prevent you from reaching your goal. Without rest, lack of energy and burnout may set in. It also increases the risk of injuries.
You need to rest your body, so you have enough strength and energy for the next week of training. It also helps you become stronger and faster than before. Give your body enough time to heal by setting aside one day off each week. Not only will it improve your cycling, it will also improve your overall health.
Get a massage
Massage is not only relaxing; it can help enormously in your body’s recovery process.
Massage therapists usually rub muscles upwards toward the heart. This is done to flush the toxins from the muscles to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate and go back into the muscles. It can also help break down the knots that may form in your body due to muscle overuse.
Slip on a pair of compression socks
The benefits of wearing compression stockings are quite limited while riding a bike, but the benefits are more profound in the recovery stage.
Blood can stagnate on the lower extremities after exercise. We also experience muscle oscillation, which causes tiny muscles in your legs to tear. This is what causes soreness and sprains. Compression socks help with circulation by promoting blood flow from the lower extremities back up to the heart for oxygen replenishment. It also limits muscle oscillation to prevent injury. Plus, it helps combat sore muscles and leg fatigue after an intense bike ride; thus, gearing you up for your next session.
To speed up cycling recovery time, it is best to wear compression socks for about two hours after an intense ride.