Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Using Hot and Cold Showers
To get the best effect from hot and cold showers, aim for 20-60 second intervals of hot and cold water. In the cold interval, the colder, the better and for the hot part, you want the temperature hot without scalding the skin. I usually go back to a comfortable showering temperature to warm back up. For best results, you want to go through the cycle of hot and cold 3-4 times (6-8 total temperature changes), always finishing on hot so that your core temperature doesn't drop too low.
The order of your recovery after a workout/race should be as follows: Warm down, then put on some warm clothing, then do some stretching. Within about 30 minutes have some carbohydrates such as fruit, muesli bars etc. and also begin your re hydration with water and a sports drink if you want. Your hot and cold showers should be done after all of these things to create the best recovery effect.
Hot and Cold showers can also be used as a great pick-me-up if you are feeling flat before a ride or race. It's a much better wake up than your morning coffee!
Include hot and cold showers into your recovery routine and you will be recovering faster and better in no time!
Photo by Dan Shirley. gallery
Monday, June 16, 2008
- Wear a helmet! If you are currently riding without one, you are an accident waiting to happen. prevent cracking your scull and inducing brain damage by strapping one on every time you ride, even if your just out the front of the house.
- The cheapest and best injury prevention mechanism you can get is stretching. Better muscle flexibility greatly reduces the risk of a muscle tear/strain and is going to improve your body's performance at the same time. Try to include a couple of flexibility sessions each week.
- Get a bike fit done. Prevent chronic injuries by getting your local bike shop to conduct a bike fit where they will set you up in your prime riding position.
- Ensure your bike is in a trail-worthy state. There's nothing worse than landing a jump with your rear wheel crumpling under you because half of your spokes were broken or having your rims rip out of your tyre casing on a high speed corner because your tyres were too flat. Regularly check the condition of your wheels, tyre tread/tyre pressure and brakes/brake pads to prevent a serious stack.
- Prevent serious eye damage from flying debris and UV radiation by wearing sunglasses; preferably ones with a UV filter.
- Don't ride outside of your abilities. There is a fine line between pushing your limits to improve your riding and riding outside of your abilities. If you are feeling out-of-control at any stage of a ride, it's time to stop and settle for a bit.
Preventative Maintenance For Your Bike
- Wash your bike. You can greatly reduce the wear and increase the life of your moving parts by keeping it clean. When washing, always be careful to not use high-pressure water as it can force past the water seals, causing damage. With that said, most modern mountain bikes these days have good seals that can handle low pressure water. More tips on washing your bike here.
- Replace your chain on a regular basis. Prevent having to do an expensive drive train overhaul by replacing your chain on a regular basis. Buy a chain wear gauge to monitor the wear on your chain as the standard life for a chain is about 6 months (this will obviously vary between riding conditions and ride frequency).
- Prevent flat tyres by ensuring that they are in good condition and they have adequate pressure. You may also look into a tubeless tyre system as the sealant inside prevents punctures while the lack of tubes eliminate pinch flats.
- Learn how to true your wheels as this will enable you to easily prevent breaking spokes and maintain a durable, responsive wheel.
- After a dusty or muddy ride, ensure you clean yourself thoroughly to prevent any illnesses or infections. Pay close attention to any cuts you may have received on the trail and be sure to use disinfectant.
- Eat a nutritious and balanced diet to prevent any metabolic brake downs and to keep you at your physical best.
- Get plenty of sleep to keep your concentration and body in proper working order. Normal adults should be aiming for at least 8-10 hours per night while normal adolescents should be sleeping at least 9-11 hours. If you train a lot, you aren't considered a "normal" person and will need to tack on another couple of hours to the recommended.
As you can see, there are a number of measures that can be taken in preventing bad things in and out of the single track. The more you ride, the greater your risk of having a problem so I'd recommend that you start looking at some of these points ASAP!
Image courtesy of Alex Dalmau