By Editorial Staff
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2000.
Weekend warrior or pro, the following can keep you performing at your peak:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
You should be consuming one to two 12 oz. bottles per hour, depending on the day’s temperature and your exertion level. Think in terms of drinking for tomorrow’s ride.
2. Keep Knees Warm
Avoid patella tendinitis. Check your local bike store for knee warmers just for this purpose.
3. Stay Out of the Hot Tub
As good as it may sound, this is the worst thing you can do. Microtrauma to muscle fibers causes the inflammatory response, so it is imperative to reduce swelling and soreness associated with it. Therefore, cold water is the choice here. You can wrap towels around your thighs and pour cold water over them for15–20 minutes. More exhilarating is to find a stream and submerse your legs. Sit in the water for 20 minutes. You will be amazed at how good your legs feel the next day.
By elevating your legs, you will let gravity help in the removal of toxins and the replacement of oxygen and nutrients. Lay on your back with legs up against a wall, tree, car, etc. With knees slightly bent, relax and breathe deeply from the diaphragm. Use visualization to breathe air into each calf/lower leg and relax that part of your body as you visualize it happening, taking 5–6 minutes, or until your feet begin to tingle. Finish by spinning around and lying flat for 30–60 seconds, allowing blood to return to the legs. Elevate again and repeat this procedure four to six times. Throughout each elevation, point and flex your feet, ankles, hamstrings and quads to work the muscle pump, thereby assisting lymphatic drainage from the legs.
5. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
Stretching should be relaxing and feel good when done properly. Muscles that are warmed will respond better to stretching. Stretch slowly and in a controlled manner. If you feel a cramp coming on, come out of the stretch and contract the opposing muscle group for 8–10 seconds and move into the stretch again.