ECOVERY FOR MANY CONJURES UP IMAGES OF SOFA SURFING IN FRONT OF THE TELLY. BUT IF YOU WANT FRESH LEGS AFTER SUNDAY'S TOUGH SPORTIVE, SUPPLE PINS AFTER A WEEK OF COMMUTING, OR BE READY TO TRAIN AGAIN AFTER A RACE, THEN THERE A FEW TECHNIQUES FOR SPEEDING UP THE PROCESS. RECOVERY IS JUST AS MUCH PART OF THE PROCESS OF GETTING FITTER AS DOING THE MILES.
Photo by Shuhei Takenouchi
Nutrition is an important issue. Keep in mind the 3 Rs: rehydration, replenishment and repair. Rehydration must be done first because a dehydrated cell won't be able to transport the nutrients for replenishment and repair. If you've been knocking back a sugary sports drink all day, opt for water and a handful of peanuts as they contain the important electrolyte sodium.
Glycogen stores will be low after a hard ride. You've got up to 40 minutes after you stop to grab a savoury sandwich and top up the depleted fuel stores. Aim to consume 1g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. Chew down a Mule Bar (£1.29) made only from natural ingredients and complex carbohydrates.
Photo by Gerard Brown
Finally move onto the repair stage. The body's immune system naturally dips after a long day in the saddle. Protein will stimulate muscle repair (try Science in Sport Build Bar). And a piece of fruit packed with antioxidants will stave off the oxidative stress from exercise, plus they are loaded with vitamins and minerals for fighting the lurgy.
Ever fancied dunking your tired limbs into icy water? Probably not! Cryotherapy speeds recovery but submersion in a bath full of ice will leave you tearful by the end. The Australian Institute of Sport reported that alternating between hot and cold water after exercise has the same advantages. Cool temperatures reduce swelling in torn muscles fibres and heat increases blood flow. Get a hot water bottle and a bag of frozen peas and place them on your muscles, alternating every 60 seconds for 10 minutes.
In 2007 the Journal of Sports Science found compression tights encourage faster cell repair. The tights help reproduce the action of blood flow during exercise and get the blood delivering oxygen and nutrients when resting. Make sure the tights are graded, with greater compression at the bottom. Skins' compression tights start from £69.99 and compression calves are £29.99.
Photo by Shuhei Takenouchi
Don't forget mental fatigue. The mind will be overloaded with sensory information from the muscles, eyes and ears. Research from Advances in Therapy says a massage has similar effects to sleep in reducing the release of stress hormone cortisol. If you don't have access to a masseur or a willing volunteer there is no harm in doing it yourself. Use a recovery cream/spray containing Arnica or Escin. These are active components with an anti-inflammatory effect. Massage the belly of the muscle in circular motions, alternating with vertical, upward movements. After our ride to Henley a few weeks ago we applied Sports Balm Recovery Oil (£9.99).
Stretching has a similar effect for improving your psychological state after lots of riding. There is mixed evidence in regard to the actual benefits to the muscles for stretching after a riding. Bike Radar gives the full low down on stretching for cyclists.