By Brent Botha, Soigneur, Israel Cycling Academy
Whether you are a weekend warrior or a seasoned professional, recovery is imperative if you wish to enjoy your cycling and improve in the sport. In the past few years, we have found some basic, accessible to all, methods for recovery. You could say some best practices that I have found beneficial for all the riders at Israel Cycling Academy.
Below I will mention the 5 most important methods to faster and more effective recovery methods counting down from 5 to 1 in importance. So let’s jump into it:
I am sure you have seen pictures of riders traveling, pre or post-race with knee-high socks which almost seems like the socks of old English style prep school uniforms and not part of a recovery regime.
However, these socks are called compression garments. They can go from being tight-fitting socks that end just under the knees, to a full compression garment right up to the hips all the way to hydraulic full leg compression machines. Both are accessible to people.
The compression helps as an aid to a) Keeping post intensity blood pooling at bay which will make your legs feel heavy. It also helps with b) Recirculation of the blood by pushing the blood through the legs at a faster rate.
4: Recovery Supplement Products
It must be said, before using any supplementary product please consult your doctor on the use of such products. With this said, recovery can play a huge part in recovering faster and moving one step closer to your goals.
Such a beneficial product is BCAA. Of the nine essential amino acids, three are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine.
“Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of BCAAs, which are found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat and dairy products. They are also a popular dietary supplement sold primarily in powder form.
Here are five proven benefits of BCAAs:
- Increase lean muscle growth
- Decrease muscle soreness
- Reduce exercise fatigue
- Prevent muscle atrophy after/before long hard exercise weeks
- Improves liver functionality
3: Massage Therapy
Our riders at Israel Cycling Academy follow a religious massage structure whereby during a racing block they will get massages from us, the soigneurs.
When at home the riders invest a lot of time and money into their body by going for weekly massage treatments.
Depending on your massage preference, the benefits of a decent treatment can help tremendously especially on multi-stage events or just if you wish to keep your legs and body in a well-functioning state.
2: Listen to your body
When it comes to the sport of cycling sometimes you can be so focused or motivated that you find yourself doing hours and hours on the bike. This does not only extend to the professionals but to everyone doing more than 10-12 hours a week on the bike. You need to be able to understand and listen to your body.
The body is an incredible living organism and if you can see the signs you should most likely listen to your body. Sings of this differ person to person however one example could be that you would like to push on a ride with friends, however your legs are not agreeing with your idea and your heart rate does also not match the watts/feeling on the bike is a clear sign to tell your ride buddies that you will be calling it a day.
As I say to all the riders and others that ask for advice, the number one question is, Brent, what can I change to get the best out of my recovery? The answer is clear – SLEEP. Sleep is one of the only clinical studies to have shown, with a control group of more than 1500 different control individuals all in different sports, lifestyles and countries. 7-10 hours of sleep including a nap, has been proven to significantly increase the speed at which one recovers as well as boosting the body’s natural immune system. Some more important benefits are:
- Reaction times
- Motor function
- Stress regulation
- Muscle recovery
- Sprint performance
- Muscle glycogen
- Glucose metabolism
- Memory and learning
- Injury risk
- Illness rates
- Unwanted weight gain
So, whether you are starting or a seasoned professional you can stick to these simple 5 principles, used in my time in cycling, to improve general muscle recovery.
Brent Botha, a South African Jewish, is a Soigneur on ICA for 2 years.
He worked in cycling teams for around the past 7 years and have some experience as an “ex-pro”…