Percussive Therapy for Cyclists
Cycling is one of the most exciting and physically demanding sports on the planet. As physically demanding as cycling can be, it can be just as pleasurable. Its characteristic pronounced movement which is the consistent leg cycling of the pedals for propulsion makes of one of the best exercises for the lower body muscles, particularly for office workers who barely use their legs for much of the day.
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike”
– John F. Kennedy
Cycling offers numerous health benefits ranging from improved posture, flexibility, coordination, and mental health to increased cardiovascular health. The major muscles involved in cycling are the hamstrings, the calves, the glute muscles, the hip muscle, and of course the quadriceps muscle, which is indispensable to cycling. These muscles work hand in hand in the pedaling and propelling the cyclist, doing much of the work.
Benefits of Percussive Therapy for Cyclists
THE QUADRICEPS: The quadriceps are one of the strongest muscles and are the largest muscle masses in the body. Quadriceps can be classified as long fiber muscles that naturally exhibit great power, adaptability, and strength; indispensable for cyclists. The quadriceps muscles work in synergy to ensure proper posture while cycling, which is linked to flexibility and injury-free state of the quadriceps, as they are responsible for the possibility of bending and straightening or extension of the legs through the knee joint.
Massage guns are important to the quads being the most engaged joints in cycling, because of their heavy engagement, they can often get strained or experience muscle contusion (a muscle injury that is characterized by a bruise or rupture in the blood vessels of the muscles and muscle tear as they are worked). These injuries are often resultant effects of overtraining, having inappropriate rest after long hours of cycling, using an unsuitable cycling plan and mechanism, engagement of unrecovered muscles. A massage gun can save cyclists from all these injuries and more, as it also offers several benefits to other parts of the body. An unhealthy quadricep poses a major limitation and setback to a cyclist.
By applying a massage gun to the front of the thighs, it relieves the muscle pain, simultaneously reducing the tension and stiffness built up in the quadriceps by gently pounding the quadriceps area, sending rapid pulses that travel deep into the four quadricep muscles in the thigh. Inadequate blood flow is increased and toxins are moved out with the gun’s action. Applying the massage gun on the quadriceps consistently increases the resilience of the quads hence reducing the propensity to experience these injuries. The massage gun is priceless to the quads.
THE HAMSTRINGS: The hamstring, located at the back of the quad, connects the knee bone to the hip bone, and plays a pivotal role in enabling the bending of the knee at the knee joints while cycling. The hamstrings also play a major role in enabling the bending at the hips joints to give the cyclist a forward-leaning posture and efficient drive, serve as stress and shock absorber, during pedaling.
Massage guns help to prevent muscle stiffness or soreness particularly when a cyclist is cycling against the wind or cyclist up a hill or slope, during this time, much of the weight is on the hamstrings and can easily result in pulling a hamstring, or delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) afterward. The hamstring is also known for its tenderness and high incidence of injuries. This is often due to its alternating function with the strongest muscles (quads) while cycling. While it is not as large or as strong as the quads, percussive therapy can always keep it in good shape, before and after cycling.
CALF MUSCLES: The calf muscles are located at the back of the leg and make up the muscular bulge at the back of the leg. Calves are known for their pivotal role in bending or flexing of the ankle at the ankle joints and the knee joint. The Gastrocnemius together with the soleus muscle make up the calf muscle and they are most engaged when pedaling down at a 4 o ' clock pedal angle. One common observed occurrence with the calf muscles after strenuous cycling is its increased rigidity and tension, associated with muscle knots.
Gently gliding the massage gun across the gastrocnemius (simultaneously affecting the soleus muscle lying directly underneath the gastrocnemius), specifically liberates the muscle fiber strands, beating off every accumulation and debris. Use the round ball head to soften the calf muscles, as this reduces the chances of muscle cramps. It also increases the blood flow in the leg by enabling pooled blood in the leg veins (varicose vein) to return to the heart for re-oxygenation.
THE GLUTE: The gluteal muscles especially the gluteal maximus is also involved in the pedaling action of the leg, acting as some form of shock absorber when cycling. The glute maximus is the major muscle of the glutes that participate in cycling. The glute muscles also exhibit stiffness/tightness and soreness which could be disturbing and discomforting for the cyclist.
The pulses created by the gentle strokes of the massage gun relieves the pain while releasing the stiffness and muscle cramp, pounding the muscle fibers to freedom and relaxation, the bullet head is very efficient in this regard. This action of the massage gun is so relieving and comforting as its healing effect is experienced in no time.
There are other muscles involved in cycling such as the deltoid muscles, the biceps and triceps, the Achilles, but a good percussive therapy routine just about offers the same result – a healthy muscle.
Since the majority of the muscles involved in cycling are large muscles, using the round ball head is a good way to start. Adjust the neck of the massage gun to a position that can conveniently target that part of the body and avoid resting the massage gun on any part of your body before switching it on. Then turn on the massage gun, holding it firmly, but not too grippy. Go ahead and use the massage gun on your muscles. The flat head or bullet head attachment can be used later on, as the need may arise. Apply and target areas you feel the discomfort the most, but avoid using the gun directly on open bruises or injuries, nerves, or bones.
Indeed, riding a bike is a pleasurable exercise for all-round fitness, but injuries, sprains, spasms, or other disturbances to your muscles can make the cycling city less more of a pleasure, massage guns are the police that ensures these don’t happen.
“Good morale in cycling comes from good legs.”
– Sean Yates, British Cycling Hall of Famer