Will Thompson is the co-founder of
EXtreme Massage. He has a degree in sports rehabilitation and is a
qualified sports masseur. As a former national junior mountain bike
champion, Thompson knows a thing or two about hard training and the
importance of recovery.
Why is recovery so important for riders?
Recovery allows you to get back on the bike the next day. Get it right and you’ll be able to train just as hard or harder in following sessions. If you don’t recover properly after the first day of a week’s block of training, you won’t be able to train as hard the following day, and so on. You put yourself on the back foot and limit the volume of optimal training you’ll be able to do. With effective recovery, you’ll be able to complete every planned session at the desired intensity.
Who needs to prioritise recovery?
Everyone can benefit from taking time to recover properly. It’s especially important for pros and competitive cyclists, to ensure they accumulate improvements. Even for the weekend warrior who heads back to the office on Monday, recovery is crucial to guard against returning to work too tired to care! Training and failing to recover fully is like taking two steps forward and one step back.
Will at work…
What can I do to aid my recovery?
Nutrition is a key thing – especially its timing. Refuel immediately when you get in from a ride. Replace carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins within an hour. It doesn’t have to be pre-made protein powders; it can be through homemade meals, which are sometimes cheaper.
Aside from nutrition, stretching may be useful, as it may help reduce aching in the legs. So make stretching part of a routine, before bed or in the morning. Ice baths, post-ride, are another simple thing to do. They may reduce soreness in the leg muscles. Contrast water therapy is more effective than ice baths, as it aids the circulation as well as reducing inflammation of muscles. Compression clothing may be worth considering too.
Why do lots of people neglect recovery?
Sometimes it’s laziness, other times it’s not knowing what to do. Poor planning or worrying about doing the wrong thing can also inhibit recovery. Some cyclists assume a recovery routine will take too long, but it should be factored in as part of your training programme. Getting into a routine is key; these practices will become second nature.
What are the best recovery techniques?
Picking the right practices needn’t be difficult. If you’re unsure, keep it simple; pick one technique and repeat it for two or three weeks. If it works for you, great; if it doesn’t, try something different. As with diet changes, you’ll need to do it for a while before you know whether it works.
What’s the best way to aid recovery?
Massage is one of the best techniques. It can be personalised and specific for your body and any problem area. A weekly massage is ideal. Foam rollers are a fantastic tool too, but it’s hard to massage a muscle with rollers as effectively as a masseur can.
Will NormaTec put masseurs out of business?
No, it won’t. This system bridges the gap between regular compression wear and massage. It’s more specific and effective than compression tights or socks, and is the next best thing to a proper personalised massage. The added benefit is that you can use it anywhere, whenever you want to.
This article was first published in the September 5 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
Will Thompson is the co-founder of