More and more London dwellers are cycling – as part of a regular commute, joining friends on a weekend ride, or for serious fitness. Whether you’re a commuter, a weekend cyclist, or a fanatic, massage can benefit you and even supplement your training routine. In the professional sport, massage is ubiquitous, with riders in major stage racing typically having a massage after every ride.
Which muscles can benefit?
While cycling does not put impact-related stress on joints, it does involve only a limited range of motion, which can stiffen particular joints and muscles. More serious athletes have their bike fitted professionally to their unique body shape and cycling position. But for those that don’t, common complaints can include: lower back pain (from sitting stationary with a rounded back); hip and knee pain (from consistent repetitive motion); hand and wrist pain (especially when jarring occurs on rough roads); and a stiff neck from ‘looking up’ while in a traditional road cycling position.
A massage for recovery naturally focuses on the lower body, especially the quads, hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings. But your lower back, neck and shoulders should not be neglected as these can really suffer from long hours on the bike.
What type of massage helps?
After a big event, a deep tissue massage will stimulate circulation and move lymphatic waste that builds up from a long workout. This should decrease recovery time and reduce soreness the following day. While training, a regular massage can keep your muscles in an optimum state, and keep your joints mobile and healthy.
For commuters or more casual cyclists, a massage should be restorative, keeping joints supple and muscles healthy and flexible. In this case a regular Thai massage, with some gentle twisting and stretching, can be highly effective.
Some other things to remember:
- Watch out for a massage before an event – there is some evidence that a massage immediately before sport can reduce the total amount of power that the athlete can generate, so these are generally not recommended
- Don’t underestimate the psychological aspect – if a massage helps you to feel good and helps you feel rested and recovered and ready for more training, that’s only a good thing
With the cost of lightweight bikes and kit, a regular massage is a comparatively small investment and can form an essential part of your training regime.
Enjoy the bank holiday!