ONE PERK of being a pro cyclist is having a team soigneur—a staffer in charge of food prep, laundry, and that all-important performance enhancer, massage. A rubdown gets muscles ready for riding and helps them recover afterward, says former pro soigneur Stan Barrett, now practicing in Oakland, California.
Luckily, you can reap many of the benefits even if you don't have a masseur on call.
Try Barrett's DIY routine:
Sit on a towel, or on the edge of a bed or chair. With your hands on the sides of your thighs, make quick up-and-down motions, loosening your upper-leg muscles as if you were brushing crumbs off your hands. Work your way down your leg, loosening your quadriceps, hamstring, and calf.
Switch legs after one minute.
Apply a few drops of massage oil—or olive oil in a pinch—to your upper thigh. Use your fingers to slowly knead your quads and hamstrings, moving upward from your knee. After a minute or two, reverse direction while applying more pressure.
Repeat the process on your other thigh and your lower legs.
Time It Right
Deep massage can irritate nerve endings, causing soreness, so avoid it the night before an event. Because your body diverts blood from the muscles to the stomach during digestion, Barrett recommends finishing massage work before mealtime.
But stay hydrated: Fluids help flush toxins from tired muscles.
Credit: Bicycling Magazine