by Andy Haas, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified
Sports injuries that are common to cyclists have many
causes, yet many are preventable. Keep in mind that muscular
is not a matter of bad luck, or just a fact of life. Let's
look at ways we can prevent such injuries from occurring:
Warming Up, Stretching and General Preparation
When we are busy, proper warm-ups before athletic activity
are often overlooked. We tell ourselves that warming
up is boring, or that up until now we rarely or never
we don't seem to get injuries. Don't assume
that you will be able to warm up during the ride.
Avoiding warming up is dangerous. Any time large muscle
groups get cold, they shorten and tighten. A proper
warm up can
save you a lot of pain and down time due to injury.
And once an injury occurs it is more likely to recur.
Long sport events like a multiple-day bike rides require
a thorough warm-up in the morning, and after any
break in the action like lunch, rest periods, and before
starting the next few hours of riding.
Before the next day's ride, start with a 12-15
minute light jog just to get the blood moving. Then,
move on to
some dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching is controlled movement of a body
part done slowly and taken through the full range
really the best way to stretch before you start.
The benefits include: reduced muscle stiffness,
less viscous fluid in
muscles (that translates to better movement), increased
speed of contraction and relaxation of muscles,
use of oxygen in muscles.
After a hard day's ride is the time for static
stretching and cool down. The best way to do a static stretch
gradually assume a stretched position and hold
it for at least 20-30 seconds. The benefits include removal
products such as lactic acid, and less muscle
soreness the next day.
Proper Nutrition and Hydration
Eating intelligently is
very important preparation to intense physical activity.
This can help
Eat a full nutritional breakfast before a
race, but don't
overeat. Go for plenty of carbohydrates such
as bread, pasta, cereal, pretzels and fruit.
During the day eat an energy
bar or a banana for a little extra kick.
Either of these ought to digest quite easily.
Your body converts the carbohydrates you
eat into glycogen, which it uses to power
Your body will then have more energy to use
as you ride.
It is very important to drink lots of water.
If you are feeling thirsty, you are already
dehydrated. Check the
color of your
urine when you go to the bathroom to make
you're drinking enough. Clear or pale yellow
that you're well hydrated; dark urine means
you may be dehydrated.
Caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee
and tea are to be avoided!
When an injury occurs, the body
attempts to minimize the damage and begin
in inflamed tissue. This is the immune
system's response to an injury. Inflammation can interfere
with healing, so
treat the swelled area with ice. Ice treatments
are also an effective way to reduce pain.
Proper Heart Rates
When exercising, it's a good
idea to use a heart rate monitor and stay within your
To calculate your THR take 220 minus your
age. Take the total and work between 60-80
While I make a living
as a Massage Therapist to others, I implement
to my own sore muscles and painful joints
almost every day. I can't tell you
how much it helps. Massage brings nourishing
blood to strained muscles, takes away waste,
it's a great pain reducer.
I recommend using balms, liniments, and creams
such as Ben Gay brand cream, Ice brand gel,
liniments for a
quick and easy way to reduce muscle soreness.
Fatigue and Heat Illness
Our bodies can generate a tremendous amount
of internal heat. Vigorous exercise in
hot and humid
can help bring
it on. We normally cool ourselves by sweating
and radiating heat through the skin. If
cramps and heat exhaustion will not be
Heat cramps are severe cramps in the muscles
of the legs or most any muscle group that
exercise in extreme heat. Relocating to
a cool place, rest, and fluids
are the treatment for this.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness
that can occur when a person in a hot climate
fluids. Symptoms can include dehydration,
irritability, fatigue, weakness, and clammy
skin. Seek medical
When to Seek Medical Help
If you become easily winded or suffer undue
exhaustion where you did not before,
stop and take it easy.
Sharp pain can be a stress fracture,
if you touch the spot and can identify
hurts, don't ignore it because
it can lead to a complete break.
A fullness or tightness in your chest
can be a very important signal ˆ there
may be a heart attack in progress.
all, use common sense, proper warm-ups
and stretching. Enjoy!
I answer questions via my website
(wwww.andyhealth.com). Click on "Ask Andy". I can
also be reached on my cellphone (052)