Whether it’s the Tour de France or Ride the Rockies, cyclists — world-class and otherwise — are learning the lessons of massage for injury prevention, enhanced performance, and faster recovery.
Cycling is a demanding activity, a sport that puts the athlete under stress for prolonged periods, sometimes for several hours at a time. While it is the legs that endure the greatest burden, many muscle groups are involved on a long ride. For these endurance machines, it isn’t enough to ride long one day then give the body plenty of time to recover. Often the rider is back on the saddle again the next day for another prolonged ride. The results can range from fatigued to damaged muscle tissues.
World-class cyclists include massage in their daily routines, often traveling with a private massage therapist. Citizen riders in races and tours across the country have available to them massage therapists. Colorado’s Ride the Rockies tour, one of America’s most popular multi-day rides, provides more than 20 massage therapists to help cyclists through the difficult stages of riding through the Rocky Mountains.
The benefits of massage don’t end with road races and tours. Mountain bike enthusiasts will net the same positive results as will a variety of other athletes. Massage tents at cycling events are commonplace but don’t be surprised if you’re helicopter or snowcat skiing in Canada to see exhausted skiers returning to the lodge and clamoring for an evening massage. It improves performance for any athlete and that translates to a safer and more enjoyable outing.
The Baby Boomer generation remains active, but it is not remaining young. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of injury statistics, injuries to Americans in the 35- to 54-year-old age group are climbing much faster than the group’s population. Injuries to the Boomers are up 40 percent over the last decade, according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates. This figure doesn’t include so-called minor injuries that still required more than 1 million doctor visits and accounted for a national medical bill of $22 billion.
No middle-aged basketball player would be surprised to learn basketball, with an injury rate of 8.8 per 1,000 participants, tops the Wall Street Journal list of sports most apt to cause an injury. But cyclists might be surprised to learn their sport, with 4.1 injuries per 1,000 riders, clocks in at No. 4 on the ouch list behind only basketball, soccer, and softball. That puts cycling well ahead of in-line skating (3.4 injuries per 1,000) and running (0.5 injuries per 1,000).
The most common cycling injuries are crash-related: shoulder and trunk fractures and dislocations. Sitting too long on a bicycle also has its problems. Temporary impotence among riders is not unheard of, while overuse injuries to joints and muscle stress are common.
•Make sure the bicycle fits the body. Have a bicycle expert provide a proper frame size, and make proper seat and handlebar adjustments.
•Implement a proper, graduated training schedule. Increase time in the saddle gradually as terrain difficulty increases. To avoid knee and back problems, get base mileage in on the flats before riding any long, steep roads or trails. Base riding should include about 500 miles of spin at 90 rpm with anaerobic threshold work added. Other conditioning should include attention to the core muscles — abs, erectors, and obliques — as a means of keeping back problems at bay.
Other essential modalities are proper stretching, nutrition, hydration, active recovery activities such as swimming, cryotherapy to problem areas, and self-massage.
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 to 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 in blood flow and nutrients 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 from 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
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Cyclists and Mountain Bikers
Massage is among the oldest of the healing arts. References to massage and its values go back to the beginnings of recorded history. Among the most widely recognized benefits of massage are:
•Improve your range of motion
•Release of stress
•Relieve your tired feet with Reflexology
• Release of emotional and physical tension
• Reduction or elimination of back pain
• Relief from sore muscles • Relaxation
• Increased energy
•Change in your nervous system- from sympathetic to parasympathetic
•Great for post and pre-sports events
•Ease medication dependence.
•Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
•Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
•Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
•Lessen depression and anxiety.
•Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue, and stretch marks.
•Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
•Reduce post-surgery adhesions and swelling.
•Reduce spasms and cramping.
•Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
•Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
•Relieve migraine pain.
•Blood pressure control •Infant growth
• Decrease in chronic pain and pain management
• Improved sleep • Greater mobility and flexibility
• Improved body and mind awareness
•Reduced fatigue Profound Effects In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:
- Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
- Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak airflow.
- Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
- High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
- Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
- Preterm infants have improved weight gain.
Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat post-surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process. Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.
more info @: https://www.bicycling.com/training/a20043831/how-to-get-a-cycling-specific-massage/ https://www.bicycling.com/training/a20036479/massage-benefits/
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.