Recovering from a race is an important part of your training plan as a mountain biker. By following these steps, you will decrease your risk of injury and will be able to be back on the saddle faster.
Keep pedalling for 5 minutes after you finish your lap/race. When you get off your bike, keep moving and walking for 5 minutes. You want to give a chance to those muscles that will get stiff, sore and tight if you stop moving. Cool down will help relax your muscles, reduce your heart rate, helps eliminate lactic acid and repair micro-injury.
Drink water, electrolytes, or chocolate milk after racing. Dehydration can delay your recovery, so before heading for beer or coffee, make sure you replenish your fluids. Be aware of dehydration signs: headache, dizziness, exhaustion, swollen tongue, cracks in lips, darker urine.
3-Soft tissue recovery
Get massage and hands-on physiotherapy at the event and the weeks following the race. Post race hands-on physiotherapy and sport massage will help reduce the recovery time required by an athlete. It will help decrease the amount of pain, increase circulation, promote soft tissue healing and prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). We will target gluteal, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles. You can also use a foam roller or tennis ball for self-massage.
4-Elevation and compression
Put your legs up the wall for about 10 minutes. It will help facilitate blood flow and lymphatic drainage. It will help calm your nervous system and decompress your spine. It is also a great way to stretch your hamstrings. Compression socks may also help to reduce muscle soreness and swelling after your race.
Go to bed. A good 10 hours sleep plus 30 minutes power-napping the following days after your race will help rebalance your hormone levels and promote recovery, especially after being up all night for the 24 hour race.
Written by Marie-Michelle Lafontaine, Physiotherapist specializing in sports injuries at Element Therapeutics.