Austrian physiotherapist Theresa Rindler has been traveling with the Canyon MTB Racing team for the last block of World Cup racing and training, and here, she's sharing some behind the scenes snapshots of life with the team, plus some secrets for cyclists with tight hips or shoulders, and talking about the importance of finding and developing self-care routines that feel right for you.
How did you get into physiotherapy and massage?
It was crazy. When I got to university, the first thing I wanted to study was economics. And it was crazy because I was there and it all was fine. I had an entry exam and passed it. But all of a sudden, I didn't want to go there. And I signed up at another university for Sport Science, because sport has been part of me for forever. I had a lot of fun in my sports and studies and I also did some practice, I saw what sport scientists do, but then I saw how physiotherapists were able to work with athletes. And then I decided to study physiotherapy afterwards. Now, I have my own practice where I see patients in Austria and I travel with team.
What made you decide to add in traveling with teams?
The day when I got the call about working with a team, I knew it was a chance to really combine my sports science knowledge with all the physiotherapy work, and I could travel the world with a team. It would be so cool. When I was done with my studies, I opened the practice, but I knew I wanted to stay flexible if an opportunity came up. I traveled with a Swiss mountain bike team last year, and in the wintertime, I travel with a cross country team. I was recommended to the team by a Swiss physiotherapist, and when I heard about the chance to work with Emily and Laurie, I was 'Yes, I want to do this.' The mood on this team is always super cool, the girls are fun to work with.
Is working with mountain bikers completely different than working with cross country skiers? Or is it pretty similar?
It's a little bit different.With mountain biking, I'm living with the team in apartments, and because we are a small team, I have to do a lot of more things than usually in the winter time with bigger ski teams. It's not just doing therapy or massage. It's also being the taxi, shopping for food, preparing the lunch, and the actual massage and physio. If we have a race, then we'll do maybe a quick massage. And if the girls have some injury, or they have back pain or something else, we do therapy sessions. It depends what they need. I love it. It's so cool.
What are some of the common tight spots for mountain bikers?
It's mostly the hip, the hip flexors. And I would say, after that it's the back and the shoulders, and of course, after intervals or racing, it's the legs overall.
If you could suggest that mountain bikers do a couple of stretches or physical therapy exercises by themselves every day, what would you recommend?
Most of riders have really strong hip flexors, and in comparison to that, really weak glutes. So I recommend they actually strengthen their glutes! Also, hip mobility is so important, because you are sitting on the bicycle and just moving your hip one way. But our hip is built to rotate!
Other than that, you cannot say that every rider needs to strengthen the front part of your legs or the back part because it depends on each person. So for example, Emily is using all of the front parts of her legs for cycling and I use a lot of the back leg muscles. And that can be influenced by your bike position, how your pelvis is tilted.
What about the tight chest and back? How do you get a cyclist to open up?
I would recommend everyone do yoga, or to do at least some kind of opening stretches. It doesn't have to be yoga. I hear people say, 'I'm not familiar with yoga, and I can't do it because I'm so stiff.' And I say all the time, you don't have to name it yoga, just do the stretches.
What about what about race day?
The best would be if you can develop small mobility routine before a race, just a few mobility exercises to get your body moving. You don't want to do too much on race day.
Is there a best type of massage for cyclists?
If a cyclist want to get a massage and it's race week, it's important to time it correctly. I need to know how many days are in between the massage and the race day. Because if you're doing a really deep massage one day before race day, your muscles will be sore from the massage and you won't have the power on the race day. The day before a race, I would just do a light, short massage.
You're doing all this massage all day: How do you keep your hands from getting super cramped up?
I always do cold showers in the evening for my hands, and then I have a refreshing oil that I put on them. I also use an alkaline powder that I make into a paste for my hands and forearms, and it raises the pH value of that skin tissue to be more alkaline.
How are you taking care of yourself throughout the day?
I really try to make sure that I get enough sleep, at least seven to eight hours a night. Then, I have a really nice book of poetry and I read that every morning for a few minutes. When there is time, I do some morning stretching for 15 minutes. And I plan my day. And I always want to find time for activity outside. I try to stay flexible since things change day to day and sometimes, you think you'll have time but you don't, so I'm thankful when there is time to go out. And even today, I wasn't in the mood for one hour bike ride, but I did go outside and pick some flowers. Being outside is such a big need for my own happiness and for my own balance. So there has to definitely be time spent outside. When we were in the Czech for racing, I woke up half an hour earlier and went outside for sunrise run. I was so balanced throughout the day.
After you're done with this race block with the team, will you be excited to get home and get back into your normal routines at home?
It's actually the nice part about doing the work with the team: I become so happy to get home and so much more appreciative of my own space and my own routines and everything. You get so used to it, and you kind of forget that. It's so nice to be in your own home. Since I'm traveling, I'm really focused on building a nice home base for me when I am there. So I notice my home base more and appreciate my space and routines.
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