Cycling recovery: 5 tips to relax the body when getting off the bike

After intense training or at the end of a cycling competition, your body needs a recovery period to regain strength and avoid injury. Follow these tips to relax after exercising with the bike and everything will go smoothly.

Pedaling for hours or a few minutes at full speed involves doing a hard exercise that speeds up the heart rate and tests the power and endurance of the muscles, especially the lower body. That is why the first recommendation made by experts to promote recovery after a cycling training is to progressively decrease the pedaling intensity, dedicating the last 10 – 15 minutes to riding at a gentle pace that allows the heart rate to go descending, while muscle relaxation begins.

Getting off the bike and continuing with your daily tasks, as if you had not made a great effort, is a practice to avoid because your body needs a recovery time that makes it possible for you to arrive at the next training session in optimal conditions. Especially in the two hours after a hard race it is important to take a series of measures that avoid fatigue from overexertion and common ailments such as the usual jerks or pain in muscles and joints.

How to recover after cycling

Put into practice some of these 5 tips and you will get your body to relax when you stop pedaling more easily and in the most effective way.

1. Give your body the nutrients it needs

Food plays a role in determining you when it comes to recovering after a bike race. The energy consumption has been important and you need to replace it as soon as possible to avoid eating too much after training and spoiling the training: take fast-absorbing carbohydrates such as those that a piece of fruit, a juice or a bar can provide you energetic. Ideally, eat some of these foods in the first hour after getting off the bike, because this is the time when the body is most receptive to incorporating those extra nutrients (the period known as the metabolic window).

The protein is also critical to curbing the damage to the muscle fibers that have worked hard pedaling. A protein shake, cocoa milk, some nuts or an egg, cooked in any way possible, are ideal restorative to take after cycling training.

2. Maximum hydration

You also need to replace fluids and mineral salts lost during exercise. Water is essential for muscle recovery and to restore the body’s water balance. After the effort, you should take it little by little, completing its intake with isotonic drinks, juices, etc. In this way you will achieve optimal hydration after pedaling.

3. Active recovery

It is about not stopping “suddenly”. Dropping on the asphalt, after a hard effort, is not the best way to finish a cycling training. In addition to reducing the intensity of your pedaling in the last few minutes, experts recommend continuing to do some moderate exercise. Walking and doing a series of gentle stretches is the best way to achieve muscle relaxation when you get off your bike.

4. Superficial massages

Especially if at the end of the training you notice heavy and stiff legs, a massage can be the most effective remedy to relieve the accumulated tension in the muscles that have been used thoroughly. Raising the legs, lying on your back and supporting them on a surface so that they are higher than the head, will be a great relief and will promote blood circulation and venous return. Gently massaging the most painful areas, such as calves and quadriceps, making movements from the bottom up (from the legs to the trunk) favors muscle relaxation.

5. Hydrotherapy

Contact with water, in general, is ideal to relax the body when getting off the bike. A contrast shower (hot – cold) or a Vichy shower (lying face down and letting the water fall all over the body) are two excellent treatments that relax and tone at the same time, giving you the rest that your muscles urgently need.