Training, Nutrition, and Health

8 Recovery Tips for Mountain Bikers

March 16, 2018

Todays’ guest post is from Trysh Sut­ton with Pure Path.

Cycling, espe­cial­ly moun­tain bik­ing can be extreme­ly tax­ing on the body. The inflam­ma­tion that is felt after such as work­out is due to micro­scop­ic tears in mus­cle fibers, some­thing that is com­plete­ly nor­mal and actu­al­ly nec­es­sary for increas­ing strength and endurance. Before the gains of these exer­cis­es man­i­fest them­selves, how­ev­er, recov­ery is impor­tant. Recov­ery can be slow or quick depend­ing on what you do before and after a long or steep ride and below are just a few tips to help your body back to the start­ing point so you can con­tin­ue to do what you love.

1. Rest

The human body has the abil­i­ty to repair itself if you give it a chance. Sleep is also heal­ing since the hor­mones for mus­cle build­ing surge dur­ing shut-eye, while hor­mones which break­down mus­cles decrease. You should aim to sleep sev­en to nine hours every night and short, pow­er naps dur­ing the day low­er stress hor­mones and pro­mote recovery.

2. Cool Down

After a hard ride, it’s impor­tant to slow­ly turn it down to get your body reac­cli­mat­ed to it’s rel­a­tive­ly rest­ed state. While you’re ped­al­ing hard, your blood ves­sels, par­tic­u­lar­ly in your legs expand so if you stop quick­ly, the blood may pool and make you light­head­ed. This blood pool­ing also affects your abil­i­ty to car­ry fresh oxy­gen and nutri­ent-rich blood to the mus­cles and meta­bol­ic waste out.

3. Eat After You’re Done

After work­ing out, eat­ing is vital to replace what you have lost. Car­bo­hy­drates and pro­teins are impor­tant after hard ses­sions. Sup­ple­ments such as branched chain amino acids tend to decrease exer­cise-induced mus­cle dam­age and pro­mote mus­cle build­ing and repair. High pro­tein foods such as nuts, legumes, eggs, beef, and chick­en are also help­ful in recovery.

4. Recover Electrolytes

Elec­trolytes are essen­tial­ly chem­i­cals that con­duct elec­tric­i­ty when com­bined with water. They help the body in a num­ber of ways such as reg­u­lat­ing mus­cle func­tion and rebuild­ing dam­aged tis­sue which is impor­tant after a hard work­out ses­sion. Com­mon elec­trolytes we lose dur­ing exer­cise (par­tic­u­lar­ly due to sweat­ing) are sodi­um and potas­si­um and a hard two-hour ride could eas­i­ly cause you to lose over 1000mg of sodi­um and 250mg of potas­si­um. A 250mg drop in potas­si­um isn’t a big deal for most diets but unless you eat a diet high in sodi­um, which has its own draw­backs, you may need to replace the sodi­um you’ve lost to aid your recovery.

5. Hydrate

Along with the sodi­um and potas­si­um that you lose dur­ing a ride, you also lose a lot of water that needs to be replaced. On the sur­face, it may not seem like much but the effects of dehy­dra­tion can occur quick­ly if you do not replace the water being lost dur­ing and after your ride. After you’ve been sweat­ing for a while, your body will start to retain more water to keep itself func­tion­ing well. This flip­side to this is that you’ll sweat less, caus­ing a rise in body tem­per­a­ture which could lead to fainting.Furthermore, because of the decrease in avail­able water in your body, your blood becomes thick­er and slug­gish which means that mus­cles won’t get fresh blood as quick­ly or effi­cient­ly, lead­ing to extend­ed recov­ery times. A good rule of thumb to rehy­drate is to drink 1.5 times your body weight lost.

6. Familiarize Yourself With Essential Oils

Essen­tial oils are organ­ic com­pounds extract­ed from plants and they have a vari­ety of uses, one of which is eas­ing inflam­ma­tion. Some oils, such as laven­der, pep­per­mint and frank­in­cense, have anal­gesic prop­er­ties and are quite pop­u­lar for their abil­i­ties to reduce pain felt in mus­cles and joints and using them is as easy as mix­ing a few drops with a car­ri­er such as olive or coconut oil and mas­sag­ing into the affect­ed area.

7. Massage

Mas­sage ther­a­py is also impor­tant because of how it influ­ences the flow of blood around the body. Mas­sag­ing the legs push­es out “old” blood and encour­ages the flow of new, oxy­gen and nutri­ent-rich blood to aid mus­cle repair. Thank­ful­ly, you won’t need to vis­it a mas­sage ther­a­pist after every ride as that could add up pret­ty quickly!Foam rolling is a form of self-myofas­cial release. This is the removal of ten­sion, which when left untreat­ed can result in per­for­mance loss. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, mus­cles car­ry­ing a high lev­el of ten­sion don’t adapt eas­i­ly to foam rolling, there­fore, your first foam roller ses­sion is like­ly to prove to be quite painful, but keep­ing it up reg­u­lar­ly will make it eas­i­er and you’ll see the ben­e­fits with short­er recov­ery times.

8. Use of compression wear

Com­pres­sion wear tends to reduce swelling, fatigue and mus­cle sore­ness after intense exer­cise. They work by mak­ing your blood ves­sels nar­row­er which makes the blood flow faster, effec­tive­ly speed­ing up recovery.