Why Sports Massage could help with your next Sportive Event
Over the last couple of years there has been an increased interest in cycling and with that there has been a massive increase in Sportive events.
This is brilliant for the sport and also for you as a Sportive rider as it means there are more events to enter and more challenges to meet.
With this comes an increase in training and the number of miles that you ride in order to complete the challenges that you set for yourself throughout the year.
With the training comes a variety of aches and pains associated with any form of exercise.
How can Sports Massage help with your next sportive event?
The main area that it will help with is recovery – tired, tight muscles are not as strong as fresh, healthy, flexible muscles. Therefore, regular Sports Massage can help the muscles recover from the training that you have done.
The quicker you can recover the better, as you will be able to push harder in future training sessions and improve more and more as time goes by.
Tired, achy muscles could mean cutting training sessions short or missing them all together and lead to potential injuries in the future – not an ideal scenario when you want to complete an event you’ve entered or just head out training to put a few miles in.
Cycling can produce a number of different aches and pains in the body. The position you are in on a road bike means holding your head in a slightly different position to normal and can lead to stiffness in the neck.
Due to holding onto the hoods or bars there may be tension in the wrists, the triceps, and in some cases the shoulder muscles. If the road surfaces are poor in places on your training routes a certain amount of vibration from the road can also affect these muscle groups.
The lower back can also feel achy as a result of the position on your saddle and holding onto the bars in a bent forward position.
The gluteal muscles perform a lot of work when you are pedalling as do the hamstring (back of the thigh) and quadricep (front of the thigh) muscles – the more tired these become the less power you are able to produce in each pedal stroke and the slower and more fatigued you become. The calf muscles are also important in transferring power to your pedals.
If any problems occur in these vital areas then injuries are very common.
Areas most prone to injury
The areas most prone to injury are:-
The hands and arms
Having your hands and arms in a fixed position whilst on your bike is not a good idea as it can create stiffness in these regions. So the easiest thing to do is to make sure you are moving your hands between the drops, top of the bars and the hoods on a regular basis.
Numbness can manifest in the hands due to the ulna nerve being impinged and leads to a very uncomfortable ride. Soreness in the triceps can also occur. Due to your riding position there is a tendency to inwardly rotate your arms and shoulders – this leads to tightness in the upper and mid-back, shoulders (deltoids), and the arms.
The lower back
Due to your riding position your lower back will be flexed and this can put a strain upon it after a long ride, in some cases leaving a dull ache for a couple of days. Whilst out riding, occasionally stand out of the saddle and stretch the lower back out to help ease this pressure.
Piriformis and gluteal problems
The gluteal muscles help produce the power going into your pedals. Tight gluteal muscles not only decrease the amount of power you produce but can also cause stability issues. Having a correct bike fit is essential as it addresses some of these issues.
Tightness in the piriformis muscle can lead to a condition known as sciatica – this is where the piriformis muscle pushes or grips onto the sciatic nerve – this can lead to a dull ache, numbness and sometimes sharp pain shooting down into the hamstring muscles. By keeping the piriformis muscle loose you can help to eliminate this.
Overall, due to its low impact nature, cycling is good for the knees (as opposed to running where the impact is greater). However there is a greater amount of force going through the knee while cycling, especially when climbing.
Again, a correct bike set-up is essential – having the saddle in the correct position, the right frame size to suit your body, the seat-post at the correct height, and having your cleats properly aligned will ensure that you are pedalling in the most efficient position.
If care is not taken in respect to your bike fit, issues such as tendinitis of the knee which is commonly associated with inflammation of the tendons and ligaments around the knee can arise, along with strains (and possibly) tears to the quadricep muscles.
Riding in a big gear that is difficult to push can also create a strain on the knees – therefore aim to ride at a cadence between 85-100rpm in a comfortable gear.
Regular sports massage can help deal with these injuries and prevent them occurring in the first place. By remaining flexible through massage and assisted stretching, also known as PNF stretching, your body should be in good working order for your next training and next sportive event.
PNF stretching is known to be more beneficial than static stretching as it provides a deeper stretch into the muscle fibres and ligaments, using resistance to add the tension. It can help with the prevention of cramp which can be common in the calf muscles when riding for long or intense periods.
Investing in a correct bike fitting is therefore definitely worth it. Not only does it improve your efficiency (and therefore speed), it will help avoid unnecessary injuries or persistent niggles. So if in doubt pop along to your local bike shop and ask them to have a look at your riding position.
Regular sports massage throughout the season can help you to recover more quickly from the fatigue and build up of toxins in the muscles cells following your hard training sessions and arduous events. It will improve the quality of your muscles, tendons and ligaments, making them more flexible and able to withstand the forces put through them.
Pre and Post-event massages are recommended helping your muscles to stay supple and full of nutrient rich blood. Massage is a great way to ensure you start you event in good condition and have a speedier recovery so you can return to training and focus on the next event
How often should you have massage?
During the season once a month would be beneficial; more if you are training regularly at very intense levels or for long distances, and have more events on the horizon.
Regular massage should be incorporated into your training programme so that you remain injury-free, have improved flexibility, and feel stronger and fresher going into your training and events thus allowing you to ride at your full potential and leave the completion behind. Most people save this for the rest days in their training schedule. Consider it a form of your recovery training.
|About The AuthorRichard Guy trained at the London School of Sports Massage in 2006 and qualified as a Sports & Remedial Massage Therapist in January 2007 and has since worked in private practice working from Battersea & Wandsworth Chiropractors, and Spirohealth, Putney.
Richard races for Bec Cycling Club and is an experienced triathlete, marathon runner, and, time trialist.
Find out more about Richard’s work by visiting his GoToSee profile page here
Or visit his website www.richardguysportsmassage.co.uk