Having gone through the pre-ride in previous columns…You know: a bowl of porridge or omelette, plenty clothes and 10 mins of a high cadence easy pedaling and for a winter spin you’re good to go.
Cycling the bike for long periods does cause strain on pretty much every muscle in the body, from your neck right down to your feet. As the ride gets longer the fatigue builds on the leg muscles and causes little micro tears in the muscles which, without rest, won’t repair. The body then repairs the damage, causing inflammation, swelling and tenderness you feel after a tough cycle. The body is a marvellous thing when you think about it. You can go out on a Sunday and put it thru a tough spin and when with proper rest it can not only repair itself but become stronger. Imagine parking your car in the drive after coming back from driving from Dublin and the brake pads wore down? Imagine being to rebuild themselves over night and are even bigger than before!
So what do you do when you get home? Shower and sit down for a big feed? Not quite. To help the muscles fully recover and to gain the most from the spin….
Rehydrate : Even during the winter with the right clothing you will still sweat and lose moisture thru your clothing so get water into you. A good rule of thumb is take in a litre of water for every pound you lose on spin. Example if you weight 11st 2lbs before spin and 11st after drink two litres to replace fluid lost.
Elevate : Not always possible but hugely helpful is to lie down with your feet elevated for 20 – 30 mins. Not always possible after being gone for 3-4 hours but if done will go a long way towards recovery of all the muscles.
Stretch : After your shower and while the muscles are still warm and not too tender after spin. Lay down on the floor and stretch. Starting with the calf muscle and working all the way up the the shoulders.
Timing : Timing is key for recovery the harder the spin the longer the recovery. Training Peaks and Strava have calculators that calculate the stress on your body called “Training Stress Score or “Suffer Score”. It simply adds your Intensity Factor per hour by duration. Put simply, the harder you go the longer the break needed.
If anyone is unsure about what stretches they should do contact the club or me and I could maybe put up a short video on stretches which would be best for post recovery.
Level 1 Cycling Ireland Coach