Does Riding a Bike After Hockey Help ‘Flush’ Lactic Acid?


There is a generally accepted practice of flush rides following a hockey game. Flush rides are a 10 minute light pedal that is intended to improve recovery. Some hockey coaches and players will tell you that riding the bike after hockey helps get rid of lactic acid, but that is not the case since lactic acid dissociates very quickly in the muscle; it does not linger. Although they may be using the wrong term, anyone who has played hockey can appreciate the feeling they are describing, that heavy, fatigued feeling that may lead to sore and tight legs the next day.

Although riding the bike after hockey does nothing for the lactic acid concentration in the muscle, it will increase the blood flow to the legs. Anytime a muscle is exercised, more blood is sent to that area to both provide oxygen and remove waste products. This increased blood flow may help the legs recover from the hockey game by supplying the building blocks (proteins) necessary to repair and rebuild the muscle, by facilitating the removal of any damaged tissue and by replenishing the energy stores (carbohydrates) to the muscle.

Should all players be riding the bike after hockey? I am not 100% sure. If you feel it is beneficial then go for it. As long as you keep the intensity down, it will not hurt you. Remember there is a difference between a flush ride and a conditioning ride. If you only play seven minutes in a game, then you should probably be doing a conditioning ride and working up a bit of a sweat, but if you get some good ice time and truly need a flush ride, then you should keep light resistance on the bike and pedal at a nice steady tempo of approximately 80-100 rpms. Your legs should feel light as they spin along. If your legs are fatiguing or burning as you go through your ride, then you need to lighten the resistance. Remember, the goal is to assist recovery, not tax your legs more.

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