I had a leg massage today.
This is the first massage I have had in years. I want to see if massage can aid with recovery. Many professional cyclist swear by them. I have been training hard for the past 3 months, and despite an increased focus on rest days, quality sleep and restorative nutrition, I have noticed increased muscle soreness, particularly in the legs.
Will massage help?
Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is. What does massage do for a cyclist? First and foremost massage promotes recovery by flushing the toxins up to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate. If you notice, the massage therapist will always rub the muscles upwards towards the heart. The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles. The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process.
It’s too early to tell. I just had the massage today. I’ll have to wait several days to know. But I can say that the massage made me more aware of which muscles need attention. I learned that my IT bands and quads are tight, and sore, probably the result of overuse. Could this be the reason my right knee and hip hurt at times? It’s possible 🤔
The masseuse suggested I begin using a roller regularly to self-massage these muscles following every workout, and long ride.
IT Band – The illiotibial band (ITB) is a thick strap of soft tissue that extends down the outside of your leg. It’s notoriously hard to work on using traditional stretching movements but, if allowed to become overly tight, can be at the root of a number of common and painful knee problems. The best method for keeping your ITB functioning optimally is to use a foam roller.
Quads – This muscle group at the front of your thighs consists of four muscles, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and sartorius. The rectus femoris especially is responsible for driving your pedals around but, if allowed to become too tight, can have an adverse effect on both posture and biomechanics, resulting in lower back pain and potentially hip and knee problems.
I see people in the gym using rollers, and noticed we have several. Some harder than others. The masseuse suggested using one after every workout when the muscles are warm, gradually building up the number of rolling repetitions over several weeks..
This is not the first time rollers have been recommended to me. My son, who is a personal trainer, even made me one with a re-cycled cardboard tube and inner tube. It’s around somewhere, but I found it too hard, and short to use effectively. The masseuse suggested beginning with a softer version that is 2-3 feet in length.
Knowing these muscles are tight, and that they may be causing discomfort, or possibly injury, I’ll try using a roller for the next month, and then book another massage. I’m not ready to begin to taper for the Pacific Populaire but will treat this rolling regimen as part of the tampering process. I want to be rested, and injury free for the event.
If you have had experience with a roller, I’d like to hear about it.