Servicing your Body- By Matt Wickham
They year is upon us and events are rolling in for all categories of cyclist. With big events such as: Argus & L'Etape South Africa (Road), Berg100 & Hill2Hill (MTB), Durban Ultra & Ironman African Champs (Tri) and the XCO series - all falling within the first 4 months of the year... We know that it is going to be a tough period of training!
In this period our bodies and our bikes are put through a gauntlet of gruelling training sessions and lengthy outdoor rides in preparation for upcoming events. The usual reaction after your outdoor sessions (Road/MTB) is to first take care of your bike - wash it down, re -lube the chain, check the tyres for punctures and tend to any damages that may have occurred along the ride before heading off to the CafÃ© to grab a coffee and a breakfast. All of this is done so that our bikes are ready for the next ride without any hassles or hiccups, but then why do we not do the same to the very machine that happens to power the bike... Our own body!
Servicing your body should be an integral part of your program tactically fitted in to aid in recovery and to improve training and efforts on the bike.
Your minor services are tending to your body directly after your training. Stretching routines and replenishing your energy stores are crucial in recovery after a training session/ride. The repetitive pedalling movement in cycling tends to cause shortening and tightening of muscles of the legs, with the quads, hip flexors and hamstrings being affected the most. Muscles are at their strongest when at their optimal length and shortening of these muscles can place increased tension on joints, ligaments and tendons which could eventually lead to overuse injuries (such as tendinitis), muscle strains and postural malalignments. A simple static stretching routine helps to lengthen muscles back to their optimal length and assists in decreasing the effects of DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness) after training.
Your major services are treatments such as sports massage therapy or physiotherapist/chiropractor/biokineticist treatments for any injuries you may have picked up after skipping your minor services. Sports massage therapy done once/twice a month, especially in the 2months prior to the event, has numerous benefits. DOMS usually occurs 1-2 days after training and is caused by tiny micro-tears in the muscle. Upon movement toxins (by-products of training) get into those micro-tears causing that pain which everyone refers to as lactic acid. Sports massages assist in blood circulation and Lymphatic drainage, an essential part of the immune system which removes waste materials and these toxins from the tissues. Not only does massage remove the toxins but it also replenishes the tissue with blood, which re-oxygenates the tissue to enhance the rate of recovery. There is always the feel good factor to a massage as well, as endorphins are released making you feel happier and more relaxed.
We tend to continually load stress on our bodies in preparation for numerous events that occur in short periods of time and we neglect the damage it actually does. Treating your body just as well as you would treat your bike is an essential factor in maximizing your training and performance and the avoidance of injuries along the way. These minor and major "body services" along with correct nutrition and periods of recovery will be the key to being race ready, for every race.