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This self-massage program will leave your legs fresh and ready for the next ride.
By Selene Yeager
But who can afford a daily massage? You can--if you do it yourself, says Rich Poley, a Boulder, Colorado, Ironman triathlete and author of Self- Massage for Athletes. "The key is knowing the right techniques and being able to relax," he says. "I recommend an easy leg massage every day--especially after riding--to flush your legs and release tight spots. It will relieve pain and improve function day to day." Do this.
WARM UP YOUR LEGS Sit in a relaxed position and, with light to moderate pressure, glide the palms of your hands over your legs, starting with your calves and shins and working up to your quads and hamstrings. Repeat 10 times on each leg, increasing the intensity toward the end, so you're pressing in with the heel of your hand and rubbing in a circular motion toward your core.
RELEASE TENSION Firmly press your elbow into your thigh and run it along your quad muscles, paying attention to sensitive spots, which Poley calls trigger points. When you find one, press down in a circular motion as deeply as you can tolerate to release tension and pain. "Work any one trigger point for no more than 30 seconds," advises Poley. "Then back off and repeat once or twice." It may take more than one session to completely release it. Cross your ankle over your opposite knee and work on your calf in a similar fashion.
ROLL OUT TENSION In a circular motion, roll a firm rubber ball along your hamstring from your knee to your butt. Place the ball under your glute and sink your weight into it, again rolling in small circles, paying special attention to trigger points.
DO KARATE CHOPS Using the sides or heels of your hands, briskly and firmly drum your way up your leg to release any remaining muscle tension.
FLUSH IT OUT Lie on your back with your legs propped against a wall. Using the same gliding stroke as in the your heart. Stay in that position for a few minutes.
Selene Yeager, is a USA Cycling certified coach and author of Every Woman's Guide to Cycling. Read her blog at BICYCLING.com/fitchick.