Any training regime subjects the body to gradual overuse. If ignored, small but persistent soft tissue problems can develop into chronic serious injuries.
Prolonged rides make tissues hard and inelastic, and when muscles become tight, blood is squeezed out of the soft tissue, depriving muscles of vital nutrients and oxygen. As a result, they become very painful and can lead to injuries in other areas.
Professional cyclists have long known the benefits of remedial massage before -- as well as after -- taxing rides. Now more and more keen amateur cyclists are coming to appreciate how remedial massage can prevent serious and chronic injuries as well as relieve tight muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Professional cyclists are religious about seeing an experienced massage therapist who knows how to manipulate soft tissues to remove waste products so the muscles can recover quickly. They have a massage about four days before a race, and a lighter massage the day before to help prepare their muscles for strenuous activity and reduce any psychological stress. They also always have a deep tissue treatment a day or two after a race to flush out toxins and improve circulation and blood flow.
It's not just professional cyclists who feel the pain, however; amateur riders covering long distances every week put their bodies under tremendous strain. I see a lot of tightness and soft tissue injuries in calves, illio-tibal bands (ITBs), hips, and the lower back. Cyclists also often tell me their thighs, glutes, shoulders and neck are painful after a day's riding.
A good remedial massage therapist is trained in muscular-skeletal conditions and we know how to work on increasing tissue permeability and elasticity, improving tissue microcirculation and breaking down scar tissue from previous trauma.
It's also essential - and I can't emphasise this enough - that cyclists have a deep tissue massage a day or two after a race so that we can attend to any nagging pains and prevent minor injuries from becoming chronic problems.
Seeing that your bike works optimally is commonsense for any cyclist. Seeing a remedial massage therapist after a long hard ride should be too.
Hi! I'm Holly Hicks, the founder of Fluid Movement and Wellbeing and the Restore+Rebalance Stretch Program. For the past 20 years, I've treated thousands of people in clinical practice as an elite sports and remedial massage therapist and taught hundreds of in-person stretch classes and workshops as a stretch therapy coach. Classes, courses and private individual or group sessions available, in person and online. Join me on Facebook and Instagram or get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org