Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Self Massage Isn't a Bad Thing...

When the weather outside isn’t frightful and inside is as delightful as glass sandwiches, it is time to get outside on the bike. To get away from the family unit, blazing computer screen or boring chores is what it means to be a cyclist. If the good weather extends into two to three weekends then why not keep riding? Why not push it until your muscles ache? Why not enjoy the beauty of this land? The answer is you have too. Your mind won’t let you rest until you break the 120-mile mark. However, in order to play this much you’ll need to concentrate on recovery. You’ll need to prepare your legs each day for the long haul over the pavement or trail. This means massage and lots of it!

If you’re like me then you don’t have time for professionals. Furthermore, the cost of going to a professional masseuse may be outside of your income stream. To counter the cost/time issue I suggest a daily dose performed by you, yourself and you.

To many the idea of self massage seems very simple. Many of us do this on a daily basis if we stub our toe, slightly burn ourselves or punish the dog a little too hard. Do you get it? If we hurt ourselves we grab hold of the area and hold it tightly. This is akin to massage, believe it or not. We are increasing the blood flow, soothing the nerves and comforting our injured hand that we used to get the dog of the couch. Think of this as an instinctual response. Now, consider expanding your instincts to include a mindful routine of self massage.

You might want to begin your massage with your legs, obviously. However, as part of your routine you should consider other areas that will produce a relaxation effect. Your goal is to decrease soreness and to increase blood flow. Let’s begin…

Note: all of these massage techniques can be accomplished by hand. However, those cool massage toys you see at Rite Aid, well, they really work!

I start with the feet. I sit on a chair, cross one leg over the other, take out the oils and begin by pressing and turning my thumb on the ball of my foot (ahhh, the lovely feel of feet). Next I move to my Achilles tendon. I grab the tendon between my index finger and my thumb and gently rub. Once I feel good on the uber tendon, I move up to my calves. I don’t spend as much time as I should massaging my calves, but what time I do spend works well, I believe. As you might have guessed, I head up to my quads. I really beat the hell out of them. I use my whole hand needing every portion of my quads and hamstrings. I press, stretch, push, pull and kneed them until I see veins popping out.

After a good session of massage I typically try to sit still for at least 20 minutes. I think it is good to relax, close your eyes and think of happy recovery bugs crawling into your muscles. OK, that is a little weird, but it works

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