The time spent off the mountain bike recovering is just as important as the time spent training. Missing the opportunity to repair muscle damage that occurs when biking can leave a rider with more than just sore legs – failing to recover can cause and even aggravate injuries.
Underestimating the need and power of cycling recovery is one of the reasons some bikers quit biking too soon. Through overtraining, a lot of cyclists make their rides unbearable because of the pain that results from overuse injuries – a good example is the cycling knee pain. With the tips outlined in this guide, your post cycling recovery routine should be much easier.
Simple Post Cycling Recovery Tips
1. Cool Down Before Stopping
After finishing your long biking trip (or race), take some additional 5 minutes to spin slowly before getting off your aluminum road bike.
Since the blood vessels in your legs were expanding during the ride, a sudden stop forces your blood to stay in place just like water in a pool. In addition to making you feel lightheaded, this minimizes your body’s ability to get the metabolic waste out and fresh blood in.
While you have the joy of being done with your bikepacking trip, you will still have several hours of muscle repair and recovery time. This will begin with the cool-down process.
2. Move Your Body Once You Are Off the Bike
If you stop moving your body immediately after getting off your bike, every muscle will tighten up, and may eventually become both stiff and sore. Once you are done with the 5 minutes of spinning slowly, get off the hardtail mountain bike but keep moving.
Avoid plopping yourself down – say, on a chair – and calling it a day. The muscles in your body need to keep contracting and expanding – to achieve this, walk for a few additional minutes.
3. Stretch Your Muscles
Once you are done with your 5-minute walk, stretch the muscles you use when riding your bike. The rectus femoris – which is the middle quad muscle – glues down to the kneecap and hip if it gets tight, and it can be responsible for knee pain when cycling. If not stretched, the hip flexors can get too tight too, causing pain when you stand.
Other muscles you need to stretch include the Iliotibial band, the glutes, and the lats. Different stretches will work for different groups of cycling muscles. Our detailed guide on cycling stretches should help you find the right stretches for each muscle group.
4. Wear Compression Socks
Compression wear – including the compression cycling socks – can be an effective part of the post cycling recovery routine. They will help you reduce muscle swelling, fatigue, and soreness after an intense ride.
The calf muscles send blood back to the rider’s chest. In addition to accelerating blood recirculation, compression socks improve the oxygen levels in the blood, speeding up the cycling recovery process.
5. Keep Up Your Hydration
After your trip, keep your water bottle close, and do not forget to drink up and hydrate your body. Dehydration can delay the recovery process.
Protein-type drinks, such as chocolate milk, can help speed up your recovery. However plain water or electrolyte-type water is ideal too. Sports drinks are a good option, but be sure to take them in moderation.
6. Take Protein
To kick start the muscle repair process, be sure to eat a lot of protein. Start by consuming a high protein snack immediately after the trip, just after you have started cooling down.
Later, eat a high-protein meal – include foods such as fish, beef, nuts, and chicken in your meal. This should help decrease the damage in your muscles and help speed up the process of muscle repair.
7. Carb Up
Hard rides will blow out your carb stores. Your body will be most primed to replenish the carbohydrate stores about thirty minutes after a vigorous workout. For this reason, try to eat a carb-rich snack within this window.
Also, the protein you will be consuming during the recovery period will speed up the glycogen restocking. This makes it even more crucial for you to consume carbs once you are done with using your mountain bike pedals.
8. Get a Massage
Massaging the legs will help push out the waste fluids during the muscle breakdown. A good massage will also improve your blood circulation, allowing fresh blood to flow into the muscles more easily. As an added benefit, a good massage increases the rate at which you break up the knots that often form as a result of muscle overuse.
If it is impossible to get a good massage therapist, try using foam rollers. Focus on massaging or foam rolling your iliotibial band – this runs down the outside of your thigh – because it can be pretty hard to stretch.
Another part that your massage should focus on is the thoracic spine. Foam rolling the upper part of the spine will play a big role in decreasing the workload for your lumbar spine. While you may not feel as if the thoracic spine is painful after the ride, foam rolling the area will help eliminate problems in the lower back and the neck.
9. Take a Contrast Shower
Instead of taking just a hot shower, consider alternating hot water and then immediately using cold water to shower. While this might seem extremely simple, the contrast of warming up and then cooling down will help you create a pumping-type mechanism. This will help boost the blood circulation, speeding up the rate of post cycling recovery.
10. Reset with Plenty of Rest
Finally, rest is crucial for both muscle repair and recovery. In addition to reducing the chances of dealing with different types of cycling injuries, it will help heal your body overall.
Muscle-building hormones increase when you sleep. These hormones are extremely important when it comes to repairing your muscles after a rough session on your MTB handlebars. After a long ride, get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. Additionally, get 30-minute power naps during the day of the ride.
Q: How Long Does It Take for Legs to Recover After Cycling?
The damage caused by cycling to the muscle fibers subsides after approximately 72 hours. However, this recovery period varies for individuals – for example, for younger cyclists, the legs may take a shorter period to recover, while for the elderly riders, it may take longer.
Q: How Long Should I Rest After Cycling?
If you have exerted yourself on a single-day ride, resting for 24 hours should allow you to top up your depleted glycogen levels, as well as give your body enough time to repair damaged muscle fibers. However, if you have had several demanding cycling days, increase your resting period to 36 - 48 hours.
Q: How Can I Recover Faster from Cycling?
To recover faster from cycling, focus on gradually cooling down before getting off your bike. Next, stretch your muscles, massage your body to increase blood circulation, stay hydrated, eat proteins to facilitate muscle repair, and then use plenty of rest and sleep to speed up recovery.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Recover from A 100 Mile Bike Ride?
The recovery period for a 100-mile ride varies from 4 to 10 days. For young, healthy cyclists, 4 days should be enough to make a full recovery. However, for elderly riders and those with pre-existing health conditions, 7 to 10 days will be more ideal.
Q: What Helps Legs Recover from Cycling?
To increase the rate at which your legs recover from a long ride, focus on cooling down before hopping off your bike. Next, focus on massaging or foam rolling the muscles and using stretches to increase blood circulation and to keep the leg muscles from getting too tight. Finally, use rest and good sleep to encourage the production of recovery hormones.
Q: Can't Sleep After Cycling?
If you can’t sleep after cycling, chances are, your body is suffering the consequences of poor hydration. Cycling elevates the body temperature, and cooling the body becomes tough if your body is dehydrated. Sleeping will be impossible with high body temperature. To go back to sleeping normally, you will need to focus on hydrating your body.
Q: What is the Best Recovery Drink After Cycling?
Chocolate milkshake is one of the best recovery drinks. It is high in proteins that stimulate muscle fiber healing. It also contains carbs that top up your glycogen reserves. In addition to eliminating the fatigue that results from a long ride, it speeds up the recovery process.
Globo Surf Overview
Cycling is generally taxing to the muscles. In addition to depleting your energy reserves, it can damage the muscle fibers, eventually leaving you both exhausted and with painful muscles. Investing some hours into a post cycling recovery routine helps you get back to using your touring bike much sooner. In this guide, we have detailed one of the simplest recovery routines.