How to rest and recover properly after cycling


Whether you've blasted a mountain track or racked up the road miles, rest and recovery after hard riding is extremely important. Pro bike riders know all about recovery and have strict regimes to allow their bodies to adapt and become stronger after a race, but amateurs may not have the time or resources to do the same. However, there are plenty of simple actions you can take to give your body and muscles the fuel and rest they need for you to stay fit, motivated and injury-free.

The post-cycle cool down

After a hard workout it's very important to help your body and leg muscles to repair and recover. Continue cycling for 10-15 minutes at an easy, leisurely pace along the flat to return your body to its pre-exercise state. A cool down will help remove waste products from your muscles and allow your blood to redistribute around your body which should prevent dizziness or fainting post-exercise.

Get your nutrition right

It's important to get your nutrition right before and after your cycle. After any strenuous exercise you're going to need to replenish your body's fuel tank and to do so, carbs, protein and water are your friends. When you've finished your cool down your priority should be to take some protein on board. Protein is great for your muscles – it lowers the risk of exercise-induced muscle damage and helps muscles repair and build. Chicken, fish, eggs and nuts are all great sources of protein, although if you don't have the opportunity for a post-ride meal within an hour of finishing, you may wish to consider using some protein powder. It's also important to take carbohydrates on board soon after any period of hard exercise to aid muscle recovery. Always ensure that you remain fully-hydrated during and after your ride so it's a good idea to keep that water bottle with you at all times.

Look after your muscles

Although a post-ride massage is impractical for most amateur riders you can still do your muscles a favour by giving them a good going over with a foam roller. There are a wide range of foam rollers on the market and plenty of videos and advice on how to use them. Massaging your muscles helps to prevent muscular knots, pushes our fluid and waste products whilst aiding bloodflow to speed up the process of muscle renewal and repair.

Sleep

Quality sleep is very important in helping your body recover from a hard workout. Although individuals are different, generally speaking try to get seven or eight hours sleep at night, especially after a hard workout. If it's early when you get home, try a short power-nap. Restful sleep helps muscles to repair and recover - try not to train hard within two hours of sleeping and avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime.

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