4 foam roller exercises to ease tight muscles
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
The foam roller is an excellent tool for cyclists, though it can feel quite uncomfortable at first so you need to persevere. Try the following foam roller exercises to improve your flexibility and help your muscles recover after a long ride. Many find post ride stretching beneficial too. Note you should never use a foam roller your lower back. The spine of the upper back is protected by the shoulder blades and muscles. There are no such structures in the lower back to safeguard your spine from the pressure.
Cyclists are notoriously susceptible to tightness. So the first exercise works deep into the gluteal and piriformis muscles,Sit on the roller with your hands behind you on the floor. Bring your right ankle across the left thigh. Move sideways onto your right gluteal muscle and roll forwards and backwards. You should feel some mild discomfort in the muscle group you are stretching.
2. Iliotibial band (ITB)
Extending down the outer edges of your thighs from hip to knee, the iliotibial band (ITB), usually tightens with time in the saddle.
Lie on your side with your outer thigh (just below the hip joint) against the roller, support your upper body with one hand and one forearm at 90 degrees to your body. Support the lower back and keep the body aligned by drawing in the abs. It is common for cyclists to find this uncomfortable at first due to the inherent tightness of the ITB, however it is very effective and an area that pro cyclists pay extra attention to.
Sorry in advance but this is another exercise that may feel quite painful at first. Lie in the plank position but with your thighs on the foam roller and your forearms on the floor to massage the quads. To work on the hamstrings you can repeat the movement on the back of the thighs; gradually work from the top area near the glutes down towards the back of the knees.
Riding your bike forces your feet, shins and calf muscles into a fixed in position, so it is important that you regularly stretch and massaging these often neglected areas. To perform this exercise, kneel with your shins on the roller with your hands on the ground in front of you and move forwards towards the ankles and backwards towards the knees. This will relieve pressure from shin splints. For the back of the legs, you can turn over and cross your lower legs to roll on your calf muscles, again using your arms for support.
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