Your muscles contract and then relax. You can’t do one without the other and expect them to increase their performance over time. This article will talk about three popular methods that professional cyclists currently use to relax their muscle fibres after training.
Muscles are responsible for propelling your bike forward. They work as a tireless team until they begin to fail. One of the reasons they begin to fail is that every contraction causes stress and shortening of the muscle fibres. Your muscles can’t get as much work done when they are shortened and you will generally find your breath is also shortened at the same time.
If you only have one hour every day for fitness, then exercise for 50 minutes and dedicate 10 minutes to returning muscle fibres to their full length. By doing this you will improve faster than if you exercised for the full one hour. You will also reduce your risk of injury as a bonus!
Some methods that are currently used by professional athletes all over the world to help muscles relax and regain their optimum length are:
The number one activity cyclists (and most athletes) use to relax muscles. Remember to be gentle whilst stretching and use a stop watch to hold each stretch for one minute to gain flexibility and limit distractions. It is best to stretch when you are warm and breathe through each stretch. Cycling specific stretching routines are important because the muscles used in cycling are unique. I will provide examples of a cycling-specific routine in a future blog article and of course, at full sessions on cycleWELL Camps.
A foam roller now travels with all elite cyclists and fills the gap when an athlete can’t get to the masseur. You can purchase a foam roller at any sporting goods retailer or online. Foam rollers allow you to self-massage tight muscles using your own body weight. There are cycling-specific foam rolling routines or or you can freestyle each session and dedicate more time to the areas that are most tender. Again, I will provide examples of a cycling-specific routine in a future blog article and at full sessions on cycleWELL Camps.
Before you go to bed is a great time to perform a foam roller session as it may help you to get to sleep faster after a training session.
Yoga and meditation
Yoga, meditation and other techniques to improve breathing have become popular with cyclists in recent years to help return muscles to their optimum state and to induce a sense of general wellbeing. If you have the time, a group Yoga or mindfulness meditation session each week would be a great investment in your cycling and overall mental and physical health. Learning how to breathe, move and focus can have an amazing impact on how much tension your muscles hold.
You will be able to cycle longer at higher power out puts and more comfortably if you dedicate some time to stretching, using a foam roller and doing Yoga/meditation. Be sure to hydrate after a stretching session. Have a go at building these activities into your weekly routine and you may be surprised at what you can achieve.
Congratulations on improving your physical and mental wellbeing by getting on the bike.