Enthusiastic recreational riders and competitive athletes can make early season training errors. Namely, taking on too much physical activity too quickly. Going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury.
Injury is among one of the most challenging experiences you can face as a cyclist. When you’re injured, you almost certainly can’t ride in the way to which you’ve become accustomed–and you’re often not able to ride at all. Obviously, the first rule of thumb is to avoid injury in the first place! But when an injury or a crash happens, how can you recover from an injury faster?
In the same way that you have goals when you are training and competing, you should have goals set for your rehabilitation. Instead of focusing on what you are missing from not training, focus on what you have to do to heal faster.
Focus on nutrition. You are what you eat. If injury is preventing you from sticking to your cycling training plan, consider watching what you eat! Not to avoid gaining weight, but to improve your recovery time. The post, What Can I Eat to Recover from Injury? illustrates the role of omega-3 fats, protein, glucose, and herbal supplements in injury prevention and recovery. What you eat can affect your mindset, motivation, and outlook.
Focus on strengthening your weakness. Substitute your ride time for other supportive activities. Consider heading to the gym to lift weight and do core workouts. Or, maybe focusing on stretching and yoga would be most beneficial. According to the post, Yoga for Cyclist, cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength. If you are new to yoga, you may want to experiment with different types of yoga to see which works best for you. Yoga offers many varieties and styles from the slow pace of Hatha yoga, to the fast vigorous pace of Ashtanga yoga. All styles can be beneficial but the most applicable for cyclists are styles that focus on continuous movement. Styles such as Ashtanga, Power, and Kundalini are steady flowing, work through a full range of movements and build great muscle endurance.
Focus on your bike. Can the Right Bike Parts Make a Difference in Injury Prevention? In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit. Whether you’ve just sustained an injury or you are in recovery, consider the benefits of a professional bike fit. Having the right bike parts and bike fit impacts comfort but also technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries.
Focus on Data. Data, as in metrics, biofeedback, and a training log offer keen insights into your recovery. The post, 5 Ways to Use Data to Recover from Injury, suggests different ways to track soreness, mood, fatigue, motivation, sleep hours, and sleep quality as key metrics in your recovery program.
Ultimately, training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load. If you push too far, injury and crashes happen. While many riders understand that recovery is key to getting back on the bike, oftentimes they fail to take their recovery as seriously as they do their training. Heal faster. Focus on overall recovery, stretching, hydrating, and resting. Soon, you’ll be back on the bike in no time with added gains towards overall sports performance.