How does Massage Therapy benefit the Amateur Cyclist?
All athletes have unique requirements when it comes to massage therapy. What is constant for most of us is that you want to avoid having a deep tissue massage within a couple days before a big race. Any amateur athlete would not want to have a deep tissue massage if the goal is to feel fresh the next day. A deep tissue massage will feel like you’ve just lifted weights or finished a massive training ride or run in the following days after if you are not used to it. I tell patients to expect about 2 days to recover from deep tissue work. After you’ve recovered you’ll start feeling the full benefits of the work. Calves (gastrocnemius and soleus), the Glutes and Piriformis muscles are most sensitive places for cyclists after massage. They are used in so many everyday movements so the soreness can be amplified by deep work. If you insist on getting a massage the day before a race, make sure it is a more superficial massage, often referred to as a “leg flush” just to prepare your body for your event without stressing your muscular system.
Many of us cannot afford or justify a massage whenever we feel like it, so when is the most pragmatic time to get massage therapy treatment for an amateur athlete? The best time for a massage is the day after a block of hard training or competition. This falls on a Monday for many of us since the weekend ends up being higher intensity or higher volume training because time allows for it. A massage after a hard weekend of training sets the table for good recovery or another block of training or competition. I recommend massage during hard training cycles or race season every couple of weeks. An athlete will reap the benefits of massage if they stick to going every couple of weeks. Bi-monthly massage will allow the body to keep its adaptation to massage and will have enormous benefits in supporting your body’s recovery process.
Written by: Benjamin Turits
Coach of the Duke University Cycling Team