No matter what level you are at, the two biggest challenges you are likely to face on the Haute Route are (a) managing your energy during each stage and (b) recovery between stages. Every year, a substantial proportion of the riders take the first and second days too hard, and compound the error by neglecting their recovery. The inevitable result is that a flattering position high up on the leader board after Stage 1 and Stage 2 steadily erodes away to be considerably less impressive by the end of the week.
The following can all contribute to quicker, more complete recovery:
- Continuing to pedal very easily for 15 minutes after the finish (especially a summit finish);
- Eating and drinking the right foods immediately after the finish;
- Immersing your legs in the coldest water available;
- As much rest as possible, with your legs raised;
- Properly fitted compression socks:
- Sports massage;
- And last but not least, electrostimulation.
Originally developed for medical use, electrostimulation has been used by professional sportsmen and women for over twenty years. The advent of affordable, portable devices such as the Compex Runner and Compex Wireless has put it within the reach of amateurs and it is now widely used by all types of endurance athletes, and especially cyclists. Compex have been an official partner of the Haute Route since Year 1, and long queues build up during the week at their post-race tent. This wouldn’t happen if the device was not effective!
Cyclists use electrostimulation for four main purposes:
- Warming up
- Developing muscle strength
- Reducing pain or soreness
We’ll focus here on recovery. Using a Compex device is very simple and can be learned in a matter of minutes. Take your shower and change first. If you are also planning a massage, plan to do this after your electrostimulation session, not before. If you have a pair of compression socks, put them on and then find a comfortable seat or bed where you can stretch your legs out. Fix the electrodes and connect them to the device. Select the Post-race recovery programme, adjust the intensity of each channel and lie back and relax for 25 minutes. That’s all there is to it!
HOW DOES IT WORK
The device sends tiny electrical impulses through your muscles to make them contract in the desired way. In the first few minutes the contractions are designed to accelerate the blood flow, thus flushing out the toxins. Next, the programme acts to reduce any remaining muscle soreness, and finally it results in complete relaxation of the muscles.
It is a strange experience to feel your muscles twitching involuntarily, but you soon get used to it. You can comfortably read a book, use a laptop or a tablet, carry out a conversation or do anything else that doesn’t require you to move around. In Recovery mode, you can almost forget that the programme is running (this is certainly not the case on the strength-development programme!)
You should not expect miracles but the muscles definitely feel less sore, less stiff and well on the way to recovery after a session. Recovery after electrostimulation with a Compex device feels both quicker and more complete than without.
Alpine Cols will have a number of Compex devices available during the Haute Route for clients to use each day.
You can also buy one in advance through our on-line shop.