Post-Ride Recovery Tips To Help You Get Back In The Saddle


These tips will help you bounce back from a hard ride as a stronger and faster cyclist

Cool Down

When you’ve worked your legs with a hard ride, you should take a few minutes to spin easy. Monitor your breathing, enjoy the scenery, and try to relax a bit. This will slow your heart rate, help you catch your breath, and give you a chance to drink some water and eat a high-protein snack.

The blood vessels in your legs expand while you’re hammering away. If you were to stop abruptly, the blood would just pool up in your legs. Not only does this make you lightheaded but it also squelches your ability to get fresh nutrients through your blood flow by moving oxygen-rich blood in and metabolic waste out—two key elements to muscle repair and recovery.

Message Your Muscles

Massaging your shins and thighs helps to push the blood carrying the waste products of muscle breakdown out, and encourages fresh blood to flow in which helps rebuild your muscle tissue. Research shows that a massage right after an exercise can improve your circulation up to 3 days later. It also helps to break up muscle adhesion’s (knots) that can form from overuse.

Unless you are married to one, you probably don’t travel with a massage therapist. They are helpful, but not required for working the knots out. You can use a massage stick or mini foam roller—or even a couple of tennis balls and socks to get your muscles feeling relaxed. Whatever works best for you, bring it and use it.

Put Compression Socks On

Even thought the research is still fairly new, studies show that wearing compression gear after an extensive workout can help reduce fatigue, muscle soreness, and swelling. So when you crawl off the bike, slip on some compression socks. It can’t hurt, right?

Your calf muscle (soleus) is often referred to as your second heart because it sends blood back to your chest. Compression socks improve circulation, which speeds up that process, meaning your blood oxygen levels improve and your recovery is sped up.

Drink Lots Of Water

Water is very important for your blood quality, therefore dehydration can slow the recovery process because your blood essentially turns to unhealthy sludge. Therefore, drink tons of water during hard rides and follow your workout with a bottle of your favorite recovery drink (not beer… you can have some later), be it a smoothly or something fancier. Your body will thank you.

No Antioxidants

We were always told that taking tons of antioxidants like Vitamins E and C could help with a speedy recovery, and warding off damage that occurred during hard exercise. We now know the opposite is true.

During the acute recovery period that immediately follows a hard ride, research shows that antioxidant supplements can counteract the beneficial effects of exercise.

By squelching free radicals before your body can react and adapt to them, you keep your muscles from recovering appropriately. When comparing supplement users to non-users, it appears that supplement users experience more muscle damage than those who went without the supplements.

It has also been found in some studies that taking vitamin supplements right after a hard ride can counteract the insulin-sensitizing effects of exercise. In normal speak, that means that your muscles won’t be able to get the nutrients and glycogen that they need to repair themselves.

Eat More Protein

While skipping the antioxidants, you should be doping up on branched-chain amino acids found in protein. Studies show that these help with muscle building and repair, as well as decreasing muscle damage that occurred through hard exercise.

Getting supplements is good, but nothing compares to eating high-protein foods to get what your body needs. Foods like nuts, beef, eggs, chicken, fish, and legumes will all suffice. Get a high-protein snack, shake, or meal into your system after you crush a ride to jump-start your muscle repair. A nut butter sandwich or some scrambled eggs and cheese are a couple of ideal post-ride recovery foods.

Eat A Ton Of Carbs

Your body is most ready to replenish the depleted nutrients within a 30-minute time span of your workout. You should be sure to get a carb-rich snack consumed within that time-frame because a hard ride uses up your bodies carbohydrate store.

Get A Full Nights Sleep

Sleep speeds up healing because muscle-building hormones surge during slumber, while those hormones that break down muscle subside. If you can’t get as much sleep as you need, you should try and sneak 7-8 hours a night is ideal for your body to recover. Not only does sleep help your muscles repair, but studies show that sleep reduces stress hormone levels! We could all use less stress in our lives, right?

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Dan Guiterrez got his start riding a bike to college. He worked a bike shop and as a personal trainer through part of college, eventually graduating with his Bachelor's in Business Administration and Marketing. His love for cycling and fitness continues to guide his life and Dan owns a d bike shop and fitness center. Drawing on his decade of cycling knowledge -- and rich connections in the industry -- Dan is excited to offer his experience and opinions for other cyclists to learn from.


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