Whether you’re gearing up for the Tour de France, or prefer a leisurely pedal through your local park, cycling can give you a rush like few other forms of exercise.
Both professional and amateur cyclists should consider incorporating regular massage into their routine, which many of the world’s top athletes consider to be an essential part of training.
Here’s our expert guide to how massage can help cyclists get the most out of their bodies.
There are three main muscles used in cycling:
- Quadriceps: the front of the thighs
- Hamstrings: the back of the legs
- Gluteals: the buttocks
Pushing down on the pedals, maintaining balance and gripping the handlebars also works a number of other muscle groups, including:
- Tibialis anterior: the front of the lower leg
- Gastrocnemius: the calves
- Abdominals: the core
- Wrist flexors and extensors: your hands and wrists
- Plantarflexors and dorsiflexors: the ankles and feet
Common cycling injuries
Because cycling uses many different parts of the body, there are plenty of opportunities for injury.
The most common cycling injuries are:
- Pulled muscles: typically in the legs, caused by overextension or jerking movements
- Knee injuries: targeted or diffused pain anywhere in the knee area, as a result of repetitive overuse
- Achilles tendonitis: strong pain above the heel, caused by a tear or rupture
- Lower back and neck pain: often caused by poor or misaligned posture while cycling
- Muscle tightness: can be anywhere in the body, as a result of challenging training practices
- Muscle fatigue: again this can be felt anywhere in the body, usually after intensive training
Cyclists may find that different types of training are linked to particular injuries. Those who venture off-road can be more likely to experience falls, resulting in impact injuries, while mountain bikers can be prone to lower back and neck pain. Anyone who cycles on a track may find that their posture in particular suffers over time due to hunching forward.
What are the benefits of massage for cyclists?
Massage is a holistic solution to many of the challenges that athletes, both amateur and professional, encounter over the course of their training.
The primary benefits are as follows:
- Alleviates muscular pain and releases tightness in muscles and tendons, for faster recovery between rides.
- Supports and speeds healing of soft tissue, in cases of tendonitis, pulled muscles and knee injuries.
- Promotes recovery from muscle fatigue by inducing deep relaxation.
When is the best time to have a massage?
If you are thinking of using massage to support your training for a particular event or race, you should consider the following:
- Plan a Relaxation Massage directly following your event, to aid recovery and reduce fatigue.
- If you are injured you may be experiencing swelling, redness or pain. We recommend that you wait 48 hours for the swelling to subside before trying a Deep Tissue or Sports Massage.
- In the case of a chronic or repeated injury, we recommend booking an appointment with a Sports Massage therapist so that they can give targeted advice concerning healing and prevention in the future.
- If you are a recreational cyclist of any intensity, think about trying a Relaxation Massage to soothe and lengthen shortened calf muscles.
How can I incorporate massage into my training routine?
If you have no injuries but would like to experience the benefits of regular massage, consider starting with one or two appointments per month. In the month before a big event, you could increase this to once or twice a week, depending on the intensity of your training, in order to fully prepare your muscles for both competition and recovery.