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I just did a long bike ride (75 miles) and my legs are starting to hurt alot (tightening up, soreness, etc). The ride was about 10 hours ago and this was more than i have ridden in the past.

What is the best way to recover from a long bike ride (stretching?, eating certain foods?, other ideas?) to minimize pain and soreness.

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Stretch, eat (protein!), sleep. –  DForck42 Oct 22 '12 at 14:51
    
If you do stretch, please make sure that you get on your bike and warm up all your muscles. The very last thing you want to do is static stretching without a warm up on muscles that are already damaged. –  JohnP Oct 22 '12 at 20:17
    
Aspirin seems to be worthless, see sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/aspirin.html –  FredrikD Oct 23 '12 at 11:58
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Immediately after (like within 30 minutes or sooner) dump a bunch of protein into your system. I like chocolate milk, but anything with protein and carbs and fluid is good. This helps your body recover faster as it starts off will all the raw materials it needs.

If you can handle it, a cold bath (ice cold is optimum, but very hard to take) can help reduce any immediate swelling.

Advil is quite good for muscle pain, once you have had some time to rehydrate, since it can reduce kidney function.

Other than that, suck it up. :) Alas, this is the side affect of building muscle. It hurts. I wish there was a magic bullet to fix it.

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Upvoted, but a couple of caveats: For endurance, what you want to replace is carbohydrates. The ideal mix (As proven in studies of endurance athletes) is milk, which has a 3:1 carb to protein ratio. (Which has also proven to be "ideal" for endurance athletes). Ice baths have mixed results in studies on recovery. If you do climb into an ice bath, be sure to protect/wrap the bony and sensitive/personal parts, as it's easy to make it too cold for them and cause damage. But for the most part, yes, time is going to be the biggest thing. –  JohnP Oct 22 '12 at 20:14
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You can find a lot of great information online - search for "recovery nutrition".

There are two areas that are important:

First, you need to rehydrate, unless you are one of those rare people who actually drinks enough to stay hydrated on the ride.

Second, you need to replace your carbohydrate stores. There is a "golden window" after the end of exercise (about an hour or so) in which you will absorb carbohydrates more quickly. It can also be useful to get some protein at the same time. The research says that it doesn't matter whether you use real food to do this, or whether you use a recovery drink. My experience - and in these sort of things, people vary - is that recovery drinks work much better than real food. I like Endurox R4, though chocolate milk can be a cheap substitute if a) you tolerate lactose well and b) you can find a chocolate milk with sucrose rather than high fructose corn syrup.

Getting this right made the biggest difference in how much my legs hurt after long rides. It also helps control hunger after the ride, which is useful if you are trying to lose weight.

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