The benefits of sports massage for cyclists
06 February 2018
Cyclists are fast learning the positive benefits of a sports massage; using it as a prevention to injury or even to enhance their overall performance.
For many cyclists, giving their bodies sufficient time to rest is simply not feasible. Often getting back on the saddle on consecutive days which can raise the risk of an injury indefinitely. This is one of the main reasons cyclists turn to sports massage as an effective therapy to aid in their recovery strategy. After all, with such a rigorous routine; the last thing any athlete wants is to be too fatigued to perform at the same level on a frequent basis.
With such prolonged and targeted physical stress, especially in the legs, the body begins to lock-up and become less mobile; making every movement that little bit harder. This can then start to impact on performance and inevitably make someone more likely to ‘over train’ which can lead to a big case of delayed onset muscle soreness and could even affect their posture.
Cyclists most commonly complain of muscle tightness & joint pain, some of the most common areas of discomfort are:
- Hip flexors
- Lower back
As a sporting group that regularly keep active and pushes their bodies to the limits, sports massage is becoming ever so popular in the cycling community, with the lights of the Great British Cycling Team receiving treatment either side of racing.
So, other than reducing the likeliness of injury, what other benefits are there?
- Relieving tightness, spasms and restrictions.
- Increasing flexibility in the muscles
- Increasing blood flow, reducing muscle soreness
- Promoting the removal of waste products in the muscle
- Increasing joint mobility
- Helping to reduce levels of stress and anxiety
When a massage therapist glides their hands across your muscles, blood vessels open and waste can be flushed out. This helps reduce tenderness after a hard ride or workout. Researchers in Chicago discovered this by asking volunteers to train their quads and hamstrings until failure, much like someone would during a gruelling ride. Then half of them received a sports massage. The researchers tested the subjects in two key areas: soreness and blood flow.
The findings showed that the group that received the massage had an increased blood flow and were free of soreness 90 minutes after exercise, where-as the group that received no treatment were still hobbling the next day.
Shane A.Phillips, PhD, of the University of Illinois, Chicago explains that “the increase in blood flow speeds recovery from the muscle by providing more nutrition to the tissue and also by improving the removal of waste products”
Massage even has a rejuvenating effect. When muscles are stressed, the fibers that cover them suffer micro-tears. As someone receives a massage and the fibers heal, they become stronger. The deep pressure applied by a therapist breaks up the adhesions, leaving the person feel fresh and rejuvenated – ready to tackle the next ride.