Winding down for Winter – or just from cycling in general – can have multiple meanings, one is lying on the couch and refraining from any physical exercise whatsoever, which can feel great after a long week of training, or even a long season. This method of ‘recovery’ isn’t the most efficient for cyclists, and is often the reason we end up with ‘stiff muscles’ and aches and pains when we inevitably get going again.
The second, and preferred method of recovery is active recovery. Active recovery is the same as the former method, except you’re setting yourself small, low-effort tasks towards recovery as you rest. This is the stuff that we already know, but always seems like hard work to follow. When you get down to it however, it’s not a huge amount of work, and it can vastly improve your path back to training and racing; only you’ll benefit from the time off rather than feel sluggish on your return.
Foam rolling – the simple way to iron out all those knots!
For the majority of us, the thought of foam rolling can induce a squeamish, sour facial expression. The idea of a solid object manipulating our sorest of sore spots is an off-putting thought when in reality, all we want to do is soak them in a hot bath and nibble on mince pies, hoping that they will repair themselves while we neglect them. Unfortunately this doesn’t work, and only results in that seized-up stiff feeling we all hate on the return back to training.
Foam rolling however, can help to speed up your recovery process by stretching out tight muscles, removing knots, and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Spending 20 minutes every night – or even every other night – running through some simple foam rolling exercises can help get you feeling ready to beat your personal best on your next ride.
Nike Textured Foam Roller – £29.99
Yoga – re-focus your mind as well as your body.
Yoga is an age-old spiritual practice that can have tremendous effects on your body, mind and health, especially where muscular recovery is concerned.
Yoga can help release tension by opening up the hips, shoulders and joints, this can be extremely beneficial for those of us that sit on a saddle for hours at a time, straining our back and closing up our hips with repetitive movements. The postural benefits are also great, helping to correct all that hunching over we do on our bikes.
You don’t have to be deeply spiritual to take part in yoga, and finding the right class for you just depends on where you look. Nowadays most fitness clubs offer classes, and they are likely to focus on the physical aspect just as much as the mental. If you’re looking at a specialised yoga centre however, then expect more of a spiritual angle and a focus on meditation and relaxation, as well as a physical challenge. Look around, try out a few classes, as they can differ from class to class.
The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga – £13.99 | Zing Anything Juice bottle – £14.99 | Nike Ultimate Yoga Mat – £39.99| Nike Large Sports Towel £25.00
Swimming – the classic no impact recovery workout.
Swimming is a tough sport, triathletes who battle against freezing cold, pitch black lakes and Olympic swimmers who thrash through pools at lightning pace will tell you that. But when done at a low intensity and a relaxed pace, swimming can aid in keeping the blood flowing without putting too much stress on your muscles and joints.
Also, if you’re not a practising swimmer or a triathlete, you could just try a few relaxed lengths here and there. Relax when you’re in the pool, go with friends so you can swim then relax; remember, it’s not a workout, it’s active recovery!
Adidas Women’s Tech Swimsuit – £27.99 | Speedo Men’s Core Slide Shoes – £12.99 | Adidas Tech Swimming Boxers – £22.99
Active rest is the key to a quick and efficient recovery
The key element of active recovery is to stay active, this doesn’t mean skipping rest periods and storming through workouts, and it equally doesn’t mean lazying around. Just keep moving, little by little, and nurse out those aches and pains the way nature intended!