By Alexandra Borrelly Lebrun
Racing began many weeks ago and the race season is now in full swing. With very close racing week after week, your recovery is very important. Now is the perfect time to learn to do your own massage. It is not always possible to have someone else do the massage for you when you are alone at a race venue, but it can make all the difference to your performance, particularly if you have two races in two weeks.
The first step is to stretch every muscle. This is perhaps best done away from your training session, in the evening. To stretch correctly you must relax, breath deeply and move slowly. Put some calming music on and take your time.
After 20/30 minutes you can start your self-massage. Begin at your feet and work your way up your body. First your ankles, calves, and the big muscle group at the front of your legs called the quadriceps. These are the muscles you use to push hard on the bike so spend the most time here. You can add in your arms, shoulders and neck if you need to.
You don’t need any special massage oil to do the massage, if you have nothing else, Olive oil will do! I would recommend using vegetable oil with some added essential oils. The two oils are very different.
The vegetable oil forms the base to make the massage easy so your hands glide over your skin. You can also use Arnica oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil or Calophyllum oil as alternatives.
There are a lot of different essential oils. They are always concentrated, and each has a different purpose. They can be incredibly powerful and whilst some offer great benefits, some can be dangerous.
Before you begin, here are some tips to use them correctly
• To ensure you have a good oil check the name. The Latin name is the real name.
• Do not use on children, the dose can be different.
• The maximum amount of essential oil to be mixed with vegetable oil is 20%
• Perform a test area on a small area of skin each time you use an essential oil to ensure you are not allergic.
Here are my favorite oils to use for massage:
“Laurel” Latin name: Laurus nobilis
This is a big muscle relaxant so is great for sore muscles
“Eucalyptus” Latin name: Eucalyptus Citriodorata
This has anti-inflammatory properties so again is good for sore muscles and tendons too. There are many different types of Eucalyptus so ensure you purchase the correct one. Only the “citriodorata” will help with inflammation.
There are many recipes for massage oils containing Gaultheria Procumbes because it can help reduce pain, but it is not one of my favorites. It is rich in natural camphor which prevents recovery. So, although your pain is reduced, your muscles don’t recover properly.
To complete the massage oil, I like to use an active oil. For example, an oil from the tree Cypress. Latin name Cupressus Sempervirens. This is perfect to compliment muscle recovery and if you struggle with the heat during the summer you can use it by itself.
Here is how to make your own mix for a faster recovery
80ml of Arnica oil (or other vegetal oil)
10ml essential oil of Laurus nobilis
5ml essential oil of Eucalyptus citriodorata
5ml essential oil of Cupressus sempervirens
Now go for it!
Alexandra Borrelly Lebrun is a pharmacist and has studied sports nutrition and natural medicine. She works at Organicoach, where they create optimized nutrition plans for athletes of all levels.