You’ve probably heard that massage is beneficial for cyclists but always thought it was just a luxury for the pros. Well, I decided to see for myself.
I ride about 50 – 100 miles a week, probably typical for your weekend warrior cycling enthusiast. I noticed that after ramping up my mileage and becoming more consistent, my leg muscles always felt tight, even when I stretched and did not ride on consecutive days. Basically, my legs never felt loose and supple. I felt this hampered my progress and it also just felt uncomfortable.
In addition, over the past few years, I’ve noticed some nagging lower back pain on rides over 20 miles. It was starting to get worse and I needed to address it.
Ngoc’s knowledge of the human body’s musculoskeletal system is truly amazing. She has introduced me to muscles I never knew I had. Ever heard of the multifidus or psoas? I hadn’t, but it turns out these are quite important for cyclists.
And make no mistake about it, these massages are not what you get at a luxury hotel or on a cruise ship. When working on tight muscles, sometimes it can feel a little painful. It’s not like that the entire session, but as Phil Gaimon of Team Garmin-Sharp once said, if there is no pain, you probably aren’t getting much out of it.
After about 10 sessions over 6 weeks, I’ve seen noticeable improvement. My legs don’t feel like “lead weights” anymore. I feel fresh each time I get on the bike. Yes, I’ve gone on a streak of setting new Strava PRs and I think the fresh legs have something to do with that. My back pain has significantly lessened. It is now limited to just the tougher climbing sections of the ride. So, there is still work to do and flexibility to gain, but I am definitely feeling better and better on the bike!
If you want a more scientific explanation of how massage benefits cyclists, check out this recent article in Bicycling Magazine.