The Swanny

Coppi3.low
Coppi gets the treatment from his blind soigneur, Biagio Cavanna (Photo: Olympya/Olycom)

Behind every great rider, there’s a great soigneur. The right hand man, the go-to guy, who tends every whim of his rider, feeding, watering, mending and massaging. Behind the humble Velominatus Regularus, however, there’s a string of injuries, tight muscles, bad posture and aching guns. We are our own soigneurs, and if you’re like me, that’s not a great thing.

Heading towards a half century on the earth and most of that on two wheels, you’d think an old dog would pick up plenty of tricks along the way. Basics like stretching and self-massage, drinking plenty of water, and not as much beer are learned early, but virtually ignored totally. I never stretch; no matter how many times I’ve been advised to, I just seem to lack whatever disciplinary gene that encourages me to put aside half an hour after a ride or whenever I feel tight (ie always) to roll around on the floor and pull a few limbs into strange positions. After particularly long or hard rides, I might give the hammys a cursory tweak in the shower or rub the legs a bit once out. I have one of those trigger-point rollers, but it hardly sees out from under the bed. It feels good and no doubt helps, but it’s just way too easy to flop on the couch with a beer and zone out on the idiot box.

As I increasingly find it harder to get out of bed, or walk up the stairs (there’s about a hundred to my house) it seems the only time I’m comfortable is when I’m on the bike. As soon as I dismount, I’m like a foal with a hunchback trying to take its first steps. But it’s about time to get real and help prolong an injury-free riding life. I see guys my age or even younger nursing injuries and think maybe I’m just lucky, and surely my time will come if I continue my lax routine. The same care that goes into my bikes needs to go into myself. Stretching every day, maybe some core exercises, self massage after rides, might even try some yoga.

And my own swanny.

My friend Josh, a recently graduated massage therapist, has offered to try and ‘sort me out’ with a round of treatments over the next month or so. When he asked what area needed work, I replied ‘everywhere’. As he’s been gently reminding me for years that I need to stretch, he knows what sort of state I’m in and what I put myself through on the bike. It’ll be interesting to see what regular massage can do for a regular Cyclist, even if it’s once a week rather than the everyday luxury of the Pro. And if nothing else, I hear there are some pretty good looking women at the yoga place…

I’ll keep you posted over the next few weeks as to my progress. What sort of self-soigneur techniques do you all employ, if any?

 

 

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87 Replies to “The Swanny”

  1. @brett – now that I am one year beyond six decades stretching is a must. However, like you, if I headed out on a short ride, the couch beckons.  If I am out for two or more hours then I return to roll around on the floor as you suggest. Pull the left knee up and over to the right side as far as possible, then the right knee to the left side.  Wait for a couple of vertabae to pop. Legs up over the head and try to touch toes to floor followed by reaching the toes to the ceiling.  A few stretches to touch the toes and hold it followed by standing up and pulling out the quads. Then, look for some glue to put the pieces back together.  The trigger point roller for the quads is fantastic – as my lacrosse coach used to say, “it hurts so good!”  The lab and the chihuahua seem to enjoy the spectacle.  Doesn’t take long, but the routine makes a huge difference when I sit down later with the odd glass of wine.

  2. wear compression gear, try and keep the legs up, and this : “if  you’re standing, sit. if you’re sitting, lay down.”

  3. We should strive to take some good care of ourselves. Bretto I’m just like you; Even when I was young and running middle distance in HS and was forced to stretch, I never really limbered up. Wired wrong for it I suppose. 

    That said, I do self-soigneur at least a couple times a week. Usually in the shower………..

  4. @scaler911

    That said, I do self-soigneur at least a couple times a week. Usually in the shower………..

    Is there crying involved?

  5. This is my last year in the 50-54  Masters.  Self massage is a must after every hard training ride or race.  If I am racing the compression tights go on before I get in the car for the post race drive home.  Those two disciplines make a tremendous difference in my recovery.  Better recovery, more hard rides.  Not a bad thing.

  6. Ice baths aid recovery amazingly. Sore muscles today. Ice bath. No sore muscles tomorrow. Alternating between hot and cold water in the shower works to a lesser extent. But for the days when you have gone all out- ice bath.

  7. What girl said for extreme efforts. Ice bath, toque on and two sweaters, and iPod or something to keep my mind off the desire to leap out of the water.

    Daily post ride:

    External hip rotation stretches are required to keep my back from going wonky – funny how all that stuff works together or fails together. Start with a foot on the bed, drop the knee out, lean forward and work that for a bit. Throw the heel into the middle of the bed, stretch a hamstring for a bit, then rotate 90° and work the groin for a bit, then rotate another 90° and stretch the hip capsule while flexing the glute. Switch legs, repeat. Then, standing toe touches with opposite hand, feet shoulder width apart. Left hand to right foot, hold ten seconds, and so on. Also strengthens lower back for sustained psycho aero assaults. Then stand and throw a foot up behind and stretch the quad, then the other.

    Midride:

    Niggling wee pains in the knee respond well to massage of whatever part of the calf feels oddly painful to the touch. ‘Release and continue riding’ as it were. Knuckles to the IT band while coasting if hip discomfort is becoming evident are effective. 20 to 30 seconds, grind them in and work up and down.

    Plenty others I do on occasion, or not at all.

  8. @brett ask your friend to work on your deep gluteals – it is the most exquisite agony imaginable! I’ve been going to a chiropractor for the last 9 months – amazing difference to stability on the bike, can now spin like EPOman, but , yeah, similarly finding the time to stretch is forever delayed no matter how much I know I should. First conversation with chiro went along the lines of “How long have you had back pain?” , “OHHHH, 20-25 years maybe, that’s just normal, right?”

  9. During a long ride I usually stop about every 40km or so and stretch my legs for a minute. Just a quick stretch of quads, calves, and hamstrings can make these old legs feel a lot stronger and makes a world of difference. This is, of course, much easier to do when riding solo as opposed to with a group but well worth the stop IMO.

  10. The Stretching and yoga part I am pretty good at, but paying money for a massage, I can’t wrap my head around it. I am way to poor for that. Ice bath, Hell no I suffer enough on the bike.

  11. That’s why I’ve sent my VMH to massage therapy school.  She’ll be licensed in a few months.  In the meantime, I’m her practice body.

  12. Regular stretching, foam roller for the ITB and occasional visits to the same Josh.

    As a long-term sufferer of lower back pain, to the extent that my glutes had basically “turned off”, I can’t recommend massage from a skilled practitioner highly enough. After a few visits to Josh, my glutes were firing again and I was back to my climbing speed of a few years ago. Admittedly that still isn’t exceptionally fast, but it’s better than the embarrassingly slow pace I was dropping to. Then there is the improved sleep, no more leg pain when driving long distances, etc…

    If you can find a local massage therapist, please give it a go. If they happen to also have strong cycling knowledge, even better.

  13. This is going to sound weird but lying on your bed, on your back, with your lower legs hanging off the edge is brilliant. Tilts the pelvis in the opposite way it’s been positioned while you were riding, lightly stretches the quads and hip flexors, and takes a bit of the pressure off the lower back.

  14. Stretching and visits to physio/massage are like flossing and visits to the dentist.

    You know you should do the preventative measures every day but you don’t.

    This makes it less likely you make the appointment because if you just ignore it there’s no problem anyone can tell you about.

    Finally it gets to the stage you can’t ignore and you have to endure the extra pain, expense and guilt caused by your willful ignorance and inattention, but you go away full of the best intentions to invest the few moments per day it will take.

    And repeat.

  15. I a am a firm believer in yoga. I do 3 to 4 1 hour sessions a week. I love yoga for many reasons, one of them being that it makes me a much  better cyclist.  I could go on ad infinitum but that would be boring.  Gorgeous women in tight yoga clothes bending into provocative poses all around doesn’t hurt.

    Just so happens my favorite yoga teachers know I’m a cyclist and will tailor design a class  to soothe the worst  that 100 plus k can dish out.  As Velominati we take the utmost care of our machines . The consequences of not doing so can be grave. Pun intended.  IMO we must take the same immaculate care of our  bodies. Really, what  good are  our steeds if  we can not ride them .  If you don’t do yoga you are missing out.

    Yes  we can , and do ride without yoga, but it provides such an amazing opportunity to be comfortable on and off  the bike.

    I don’t mean to preach but for me it’s very simple.  When I don’t do yoga and ride my bike regularly, I wake up every day feeling just that much older. When I do yoga and ride regularly,  I wake  up each day feeling a little younger.  And at a few months away from 45  I have had enough of this feeling old shit.

  16. I find regular visits to my Physio help a lot. helps that they’re in my building at work. After a back injury from avoiding running over my mate’s face and the self inflicted pain from TTing, the Physio’s work and helped my lower back big time. I’ve also gained knowledge about posture for gym work.

    I’ve now got a fistful of stretches and strengthening exercises targeted for my issues.

    Also did a Pilates course with them that helps, although some of the conversations go “release the tension”. Me “I am”. Physio “really?”

    a Physio that works with Chris Hoy also told me I’m one of most inflexible people who has come across for a while.

    Good news is that my daughter has just started her Physio course at Uni.

  17. I need to be careful wording this…….

    Before/after long rides I use one of those electronic personal massage machines.  Makes it much easier to self-soigneur but on balance probably best not used in the shower.  Really helps my recovery and pre-ride prep.

    Probably best used at home as I was in a hostel during a 2 stage mtb marathon some years ago.  Lying on my back “working my inner thigh” – from the guffaws outside all they could see through the window was two legs in the air and this thing “working” in between……..

  18. I worked my way through Tom Danielson’s “Core Advantage… “. Now I do one of his routines or a variation 2-3 times a week. No more back pain for me, I feel stronger on the bike, more conscious of my posture and generally more “solid”. Good for riding, good for life off the bike.

  19. Pro physio does wonders but… com’on, stretch quads, hamstrings and itb EVERY time you get off the bike takes no more than 5 mins. Be realistic: you want to stretch a little bit, your goal is not becoming a rhythmic gymnastic Olympic games participant…Gymnastic

  20. @ChrisO Classic… that’s precisely accurate. More than a few times I’ve sent txt to my massage therapist with, “any chance… ?” I’ve always felt best to leave generous tip as find I get responses to my txts and ultimately help fixing whatever it is needing fixed. And she keeps recommending some work pre race/ride ?? Cheers

  21. No stretches before or after here, same as when I played soccer. My inner buddhist says try the yoga but dunno… I read about an army experiment where they sent out two groups on some physical exercise, one did all the stretches and prep, the other nothing. There was no difference in injuries or performance, or fatigue in either group.

    If it works for you do it, if not join us in the bar watching the Giro.

  22. @Coyotetree

    I a am a firm believer in yoga. I do 3 to 4 1 hour sessions a week. I love yoga for many reasons, one of them being that it makes me a much better cyclist. I could go on ad infinitum but that would be boring. Gorgeous women in tight yoga clothes bending into provocative poses all around doesn’t hurt.

    Just so happens my favorite yoga teachers know I’m a cyclist and will tailor design a class to soothe the worst that 100 plus k can dish out. As Velominati we take the utmost care of our machines . The consequences of not doing so can be grave. Pun intended. IMO we must take the same immaculate care of our bodies. Really, what good are our steeds if we can not ride them . If you don’t do yoga you are missing out.

    Yes we can , and do ride without yoga, but it provides such an amazing opportunity to be comfortable on and off the bike.

    I don’t mean to preach but for me it’s very simple. When I don’t do yoga and ride my bike regularly, I wake up every day feeling just that much older. When I do yoga and ride regularly, I wake up each day feeling a little younger. And at a few months away from 45 I have had enough of this feeling old shit.

    Young girls in tight yoga pants is just an added benefit.

  23. @cyclebrarian

     

    How is it that you support each other in thinking like this?

     

    If you want to be self-respecting members of the human race, not just the patriarchal society, you have to be able to transcend objectifying women – no matter how slight the degree, it’s still objectification. We don’t like this in itself, and we don’t like where it leads.

     

    On one level, I love this forum. On this level, though, it’s supremely depressing. A bunch of nice-sounding, intelligent, articulate guys, still indicating that they ‘can’t stop themselves’ objectifying. You have to be able to stop yourselves. Until you can find it in yourselves to recognise objectification and quit normalising it (and maybe it does feel as normal to you to quip about ‘young women’ as a ‘benefit’ as it feels abnormal to us), women won’t feel comfortable in the world, even on your cycling website.

  24. @yogacyclist

    @cyclebrarian

    How is it that you support each other in thinking like this?

    If you want to be self-respecting members of the human race, not just the patriarchal society, you have to be able to transcend objectifying women – no matter how slight the degree, it’s still objectification. We don’t like this in itself, and we don’t like where it leads.

    On one level, I love this forum. On this level, though, it’s supremely depressing. A bunch of nice-sounding, intelligent, articulate guys, still indicating that they ‘can’t stop themselves’ objectifying. You have to be able to stop yourselves. Until you can find it in yourselves to recognise objectification and quit normalising it (and maybe it does feel as normal to you to quip about ‘young women’ as a ‘benefit’ as it feels abnormal to us), women won’t feel comfortable in the world, even on your cycling website.

    I guess you don’t notice attractive women, huh? Lighten the fuck up.

  25. @yogacyclist

    @cyclebrarian

    How is it that you support each other in thinking like this?

    If you want to be self-respecting members of the human race, not just the patriarchal society, you have to be able to transcend objectifying women – no matter how slight the degree, it’s still objectification. We don’t like this in itself, and we don’t like where it leads.

    On one level, I love this forum. On this level, though, it’s supremely depressing. A bunch of nice-sounding, intelligent, articulate guys, still indicating that they ‘can’t stop themselves’ objectifying. You have to be able to stop yourselves. Until you can find it in yourselves to recognise objectification and quit normalising it (and maybe it does feel as normal to you to quip about ‘young women’ as a ‘benefit’ as it feels abnormal to us), women won’t feel comfortable in the world, even on your cycling website.

    +1

  26. @yogacyclist

    @cyclebrarian

    Have you made the mistake of assuming I’m a man?

    Would you have replied differently if you’d known I was female?

    I guess you don’t notice attractive men, huh? Lighten the fuck up.

  27. FWIW:

    I’m all for not objectifying women in any regard, but giving someone shit for enjoying the presence of fit athletes of the opposite sex is ridiculous.

  28. …and middle-aged geeks joking about how they enjoy yoga for the women half their age in tight clothing, and then telling women what they should and shouldn’t be offended by while ganging up and swearing at them from behind computer screens is not ridiculous?

    Fuck this, I need a break from the internet and a long bike ride.  G’night.

  29. @andrew

    …and middle-aged geeks joking about how they enjoy yoga for the women half their age in tight clothing, and then telling women what they should and shouldn’t be offended by while ganging up and swearing at them from behind computer screens is not ridiculous?

    Fuck this, I need a break from the internet and a long bike ride. G’night.

    What if… you appreciate women… love swearing from time to time… and spend a good deal of time on a cycling blog ??? These post(s) very well may be perfect for this forum.

  30. @yogacyclist

    @cyclebrarian

    How is it that you support each other in thinking like this?

    If you want to be self-respecting members of the human race, not just the patriarchal society, you have to be able to transcend objectifying women – no matter how slight the degree, it’s still objectification. We don’t like this in itself, and we don’t like where it leads.

    On one level, I love this forum. On this level, though, it’s supremely depressing. A bunch of nice-sounding, intelligent, articulate guys, still indicating that they ‘can’t stop themselves’ objectifying. You have to be able to stop yourselves. Until you can find it in yourselves to recognise objectification and quit normalising it (and maybe it does feel as normal to you to quip about ‘young women’ as a ‘benefit’ as it feels abnormal to us), women won’t feel comfortable in the world, even on your cycling website.

    Well said. Unfortunately the road is long.

  31. Turn around and walk away from the computer…

    Turn around and walk away from the computer…

    Turn around and walk away from the computer…

  32. I’m as stiff as they come, tried stretching a few years back, just made me sore and miserable.

    Don’t get back pain, but do lots of weights to keep muscles strong and posture good.  My PT warned me that cyclists are prone to back weakness, so I am happy to sacrifice speed on hills for overall body strength.

    Sorry, but I like hot chicks too.  Admiration is not objectification, necessarily.

    ……..steps away from computer, goes and picks up kettlebell, nearly forgot I had a work-out plan today…

  33. Keep it classy people. We pride ourselves on at least making a concerted effort to honor and respect that women are making strides in cycling. Every single person who is a member of this community deserves respect. That’s especially true for women. They have steeper hills to climb and don’t need your fat ass sucking their wheels. Keep your yoga pants comments under wraps. If you can’t show respect at least practice the masturbation principle. Would you want some wanker on the other side of the world making comments about your wife or daughter and her yoga pants? If yes, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. If no, then keep a lid on it and be a fucking gentleman. Understood?

  34. @yogacyclist

    @cyclebrarian

    How is it that you support each other in thinking like this?

    If you want to be self-respecting members of the human race, not just the patriarchal society, you have to be able to transcend objectifying women – no matter how slight the degree, it’s still objectification. We don’t like this in itself, and we don’t like where it leads.

    On one level, I love this forum. On this level, though, it’s supremely depressing. A bunch of nice-sounding, intelligent, articulate guys, still indicating that they ‘can’t stop themselves’ objectifying. You have to be able to stop yourselves. Until you can find it in yourselves to recognise objectification and quit normalising it (and maybe it does feel as normal to you to quip about ‘young women’ as a ‘benefit’ as it feels abnormal to us), women won’t feel comfortable in the world, even on your cycling website.

    Plus one badge to you.

    @cyclebrarian@Weldertron

    I’m sure you meant well, but as @Marko said, chill the fuck out and keep it classy. We have been fighting a long hard fight to help support Women’s Cycling and help make women feel at home in what is a totally male-dominated sport, and this sort of chatter should be kept off this site, which is built on respect and passion.

    What you should have done is welcome her to the community like we do most other newcomers.

  35. @minion

    This is going to sound weird but lying on your bed, on your back, with your lower legs hanging off the edge is brilliant. Tilts the pelvis in the opposite way it’s been positioned while you were riding, lightly stretches the quads and hip flexors, and takes a bit of the pressure off the lower back.

    When I do that, my legs bump into the opposite wall. Which raises the question: how short are you or how big is your room?

  36. Ok, I may not have read any of the previous posts… Am I the only one who has found the best way to get rid of leg soreness is to ride the bike? That’s what recovery rides are for, no?

    Also, can’t do yoga, risk of farting in public is too high for my self esteem to handle, and the post ride massage (typically after the charity rides) just give me wicked cramps. Nope, just gonna do a nice spin for les vieilles jambes.

  37. @ChrissyOne

    Turn around and walk away from the computer…

    Turn around and walk away from the computer…

    Turn around and walk away from the computer…

    Yes

  38. Ok, if the line in my article is offensive, then I apologise. Saying “I hear there’s some pretty good looking women at the yoga place” is merely a statement of fact. No different from one of our female community members (or Scaler) saying “Gee that Tommeke has some nice legs” as far as I can see. No-one’s out to objectify anyone, I’m sure.

    Back to our regular programming…

  39. Not recommending this to anyone, but as an ex-physio, professional dancer (another life) and martial arts teacher, I find tai chi a good balance to the bike. tc includes stretches and emphasises core strength. Haven’t done any yoga, but perhaps similar.  That said, we should be stretching (I don’t, but respect warmup and cool down phases in a ride) and seeking proper treatment for injuries.

    Also, have to comment, but having worked with and taught women in different professional settings, an understanding we are there for the same goals, support and respect each other’s abilities works best. Takes some maturity. Not uptight, but not voyeuristic.

    Back to the Giro …

  40. @Rom

    I find regular visits to my Physio help a lot. helps that they’re in my building at work. After a back injury from avoiding running over my mate’s face and the self inflicted pain from TTing, the Physio’s work and helped my lower back big time. I’ve also gained knowledge about posture for gym work.

    I’ve now got a fistful of stretches and strengthening exercises targeted for my issues.

    Also did a Pilates course with them that helps, although some of the conversations go “release the tension”. Me “I am”. Physio “really?”

    a Physio that works with Chris Hoy also told me I’m one of most inflexible people who has come across for a while.

    Good news is that my daughter has just started her Physio course at Uni.

    Sounds like we’ve got a few things in common.

    I injured my lower back during a 6hr mtn bike race a few years back which threatened my road riding. Went to physi0 to get straightened out (my therapist happens to be a member of our local club as well) and then took on Pilates as a way to strengthen my core and prevent future back problems. Worked a charm and I’m convinced it helps my climbing as well. I call it my carbon fibre core (to match my carbon bike–a little self-affirmation talk…). I do basic stretches everyday and while on the bike (no rule against this?) plus foam roller sessions after rides. My hip flexors are always tight (typical for cyclist apparently) so I work on that. As I progress from “sit up and beg” to “slam that stem” I stretch to get a more aero position. Sounds like there’s a number of “MAMILs” on this site in the same boat. It’s amazing that even at our age we can get better–and younger–every year. And, oh yeah, my daughter is starting grad school in PT next year. (I’ve hinted to her that there’s goldmine of potential clients with us over 50 dudes suddenly becoming athletes after spending a few decades on the couch.)

  41. Cycling + middle age + sitting at a desk all week as I am sure many of us do sure is rough in the core and posture. I’ve started doing some Pilates in a mat and roller.  It helps a good deal; the challenge I face is to do it more often.

  42. Looking forward to the Reverence article on Hitachi Magic Wands

    hitachi magic wand boxThese really hit the spot…………………

  43. @brett

    Ok, if the line in my article is offensive, then I apologise. Saying “I hear there’s some pretty good looking women at the yoga place” is merely a statement of fact. No different from one of our female community members (or Scaler) saying “Gee that Tommeke has some nice legs” as far as I can see. No-one’s out to objectify anyone, I’m sure.

    Back to our regular programming.

    The original article might have passed without a ripple, but some of the subsequent comments were a bit pervy and the response to being challenged was unacceptable.

    Having said that, I can’t quite agree with the above Brett. A statement of fact would be “There are women in the yoga class” or “Tom Boonen has powerful legs”.

    Another factual statement would be “There are so many black people here” but would we say that? (My parents do, and it is cringeworthy.)

    My filter for this sort of thing is to ask why it needs to be stated? Is it relevant?

    As an example – if someone is talking about a piece of bad driving while out cycling and  they say “This woman cut me up” are they saying that to draw on the inference that women are bad drivers? Would they say “This Indian cut me up”.

    The neutral alternative is to say “This driver cut me up”. Their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else is probably irrelevant.

    It doesn’t mean we can never look upon Assos girl or Liz Hatch in these pages again. I hope it doesn’t anyway.

    There is, to my mind, a difference between commenting and admiring someone or something which is clearly intended to be looked on as beautiful and sexy, compared to taking the same view of people in a context where it is not relevant like in a work or social environment. I hope that makes sense.

  44. @frank

    @minion

    This is going to sound weird but lying on your bed, on your back, with your lower legs hanging off the edge is brilliant. Tilts the pelvis in the opposite way it’s been positioned while you were riding, lightly stretches the quads and hip flexors, and takes a bit of the pressure off the lower back.

    When I do that, my legs bump into the opposite wall. Which raises the question: how short are you or how big is your room?

    Maaaate, I’m a strapping six footer with long wavy brown hair and eyes like limpid pools of moonlight. If you don’t have space on the bed, you can (kinda) do the same thing by lying on your back on the ground and using a phone book, or a foam block about that size, under yer ass. (Try it, you’ll see) You’ll need to give it at least 30 seconds, and try and relax your abs. Take the phone book away after about 30 seconds and see what difference it makes. It’s stretching without any effort.

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