Maybe you're a serious cyclist, or maybe you've just gotten into the sport recently. Either way, if you're planning to do a long tour, either alone or with a group, it's important to put some thought into your recovery. Failing to recovery properly can result in long-lasting soreness or injuries that can keep you from getting back on the bike and maintaining your strength, so use these tips to recover well and you'll be back on the trail in no time.
1. Nutrition and Supplements
After taking the proper measures to cool down after your trip, it's important to make sure you're eating the right things and nourishing your body for recovery. You probably ate plenty of proteins and carbs in preparation for the trip, and it's just as important to feed your muscles afterwards. A carb and protein rich snack, such as nut butters or Greek yogurt, are a great way to quickly replenish your depleted stores after a long trip. It's also vitally important to keep hydrating, as your body will probably need extra water from all the sweating you did.
As long as you're eating a balanced diet, it's unlikely you'll need any vitamin supplements after your tour is completed. But there are some helpful additions, such as CBD oil, that can aid your recovery and help you to function around any soreness or injuries you weren't able to prevent. Naturally anti-inflammatory foods, such as salmon, have been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation after intense exercise as well.
2. Cool Down
The first step in recovering begins before you've even gotten off the bike. It's important at the end of a longer trip not to stop abruptly, causing your pumping blood to pool in your logs and preventing your body from getting the proper oxygenation needed for recovery. Your muscles won't be able to repair, and you may even feel light headed as you get off the bike. Slowing down your cycle before you've reached the end of the trail is a great way to slowly and evenly come back to your normal heart rate and blood flow.
The second step should happen as soon as possible after you've gotten off the bike. Keep a tennis ball or foam roller in your pack and massage your muscles thoroughly, to prevent tension and soreness the next few days. Make sure to do some light static stretching, as well. You might be tempted to collapse on the sofa as soon as you're finished, but taking a few minutes to rub down is a good way to prevent future soreness.
3. Compression and Relaxation
Since your circulation won't be back to normal for a while after your tour, you may want to invest in some compression clothing to get there a little more quickly. Particularly if you're prone to swelling after exercise, having a pair of compression socks to pop on after you've gotten off the bike may help you to feel more comfortable more quickly. Keeping the legs elevated will also help with this.
Another way to feel more relaxed after your tour is to take a bath. Some athletes like to alternate between extremely hot and extremely cold environments in order to recover quickly, filling the tub with ice and then hopping into a hot shower, and repeating the cycle as long as is necessary.
4. Proper Rest
An often underestimated part of the recovery process is making sure you're getting the right amount of rest. If you're a serious athlete, you might feel tempted to just power through exhaustion and try to take on too much too soon after your tour. But taking time to get your eight hours of sleep will help your body to recover more quickly and any injuries you have will be able to heal.
Neglecting rest after intense exercise will only make your recovery time longer and might discourage you from doing a tour again. So use these tips to recover thoroughly and quickly, and you'll be ready for your next tour in no time.
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