By Marie-Soleil Blais
Hydrate and fuel : before, during and after
This may sound obvious and you may wonder why I even bother to mention it. But for me, it tops the list because it has so much impact on how I absorb training load and recover for the next ride. Make sure you feed your body enough or it will get mad at you ! Use electrolytes in your bottles and bring an extra tablet or small bag if your ride is particularly long. A good rule of thumb which has worked well for me, is to drink one bottle per hour.
Immediately after the ride, make sure you have a meal (or snack, smoothie, etc.) that has a ratio of three or four grams of carbohydrate for one gram of protein. It’s very important to replenish after a hard workout, to enable the recovery process as soon as possible. It’s the best thing you can do before investing in any other recovery aid.
A very effective and simple technique (and quite lazy !) is to lay back on the floor with your legs up against the wall, using gravity to help encourage blood flow. This helps to flush your legs (eliminate lactic acid residue), and sends back freshly oxygenated blood to your muscles. You should stay there for a minimum of 10 minutes, or ideally as long as you can. I like to use this time to meditate or to listen to podcasts. Find a way to make it interesting and make it a routine!
Foam Roll and massage ball
Another popular technique within the peloton is to self-massage using a foam roller and/or a massage ball. You roll yourself on it, applying the pressure from your body weight on the the parts of your muscles that are tight, and roll or knead out the knots. It can be a bit difficult to perform when you’re tired and just want to lie down, but its benefits are pretty unanimous in the peloton.
If you’re not too sure of proper usage, there are plenty of resources online to show you how to use one. No need to buy a fancy one, just a plain roll in foam will do the trick.
Not everyone agrees stretching has a positive impact on short term recovery, but over the long term, it can be key in preventing injuries. Personally, I really like the feeling of loosening up when the body feels tight. It also helps encourage blood flow and act as a sort of activation.
Stretching is a good habit for cyclists in general since pedaling is such a repetitive movement. Make sure you stretch these 4 muscle groups at least once a week : psoas, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors, holding each position for 30 seconds or more.