Cycling can often lead to muscle tightness and discomfort, similar to how a bike chain might become clogged over time. This can restrict your movement and decrease your cycling power. Foam rolling offers a convenient solution for warming up, stretching, and providing myofascial release. This technique helps break down muscle and fascia adhesions and scar tissue, aiding in muscle soreness prevention and relief, explains Dr. Scott Levin, a sports medicine expert at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in New York. He emphasizes that foam rolling lets you target specific areas at your own pace, although it doesn’t entirely replace professional massage therapy.
Proper foam rolling not only acts as a simple self-massage method to ease muscle aches but also boosts circulation, enhances recovery, and prepares you better for subsequent workouts.
We’ve put together a series of effective foam rolling exercises specifically for cyclists. These exercises focus on crucial cycling muscles like the quadriceps, inner thighs, and back, which are often neglected. Each exercise, demonstrated by Charlee Atkins, a certified trainer and founder of Le Sweat, is designed to target these key areas. Don’t be surprised if you find some spots unexpectedly sensitive.
Here’s how to do it: Roll each body part over the foam roller 5-10 times. If you find a particularly tender spot, start rolling just below it, gradually move up to it, and then gently hold for a few seconds. Shift your weight around and then continue rolling until the area feels better. Remember to be gentle.
The sensation should be comfortably challenging, not excruciating. Avoid bruising yourself. You can follow the accompanying video or read on for more detailed instructions.
Calf Muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)
To start, sit down and cross your right ankle over your left, placing the foam roller under your left calf. Lift your hips and slowly roll your calf on the roller four times. Then, gently twist your left leg from side to side twice, with the roller positioned under the middle of your calf. Switch legs and repeat the process with your right calf.
Shin Muscles (Tibialis Anterior)
Begin in a tabletop position with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Place the roller under your left knee. Gently roll your shin on the roller four times, then shift your hips to the right and left twice for a deeper stretch. Don’t forget to switch to your right shin and repeat.
Thigh Muscles (Quadriceps)
Get into a forearm plank position, placing the roller across your left thigh, just above the knee. Roll up and down your quadriceps four times. Midway, pause and bend your left knee twice for added effect. Then, switch to the right thigh and do the same.
Inner Thigh Muscles (Adductors)
Starting again in a forearm plank, rotate your left leg outward and place the roller perpendicular to your thigh, just below the hip crease. Shift your weight to roll along the inner thigh four times. Then, draw your left knee toward your left shoulder twice. Switch to your right leg and repeat the exercise.
IT Band (Iliotibial Band)
Lie on your left side, positioning the roller along your outer left thigh. Cross your right leg over the left and support your upper body with your left forearm. Roll up and down the outer thigh four times, between the hip and knee, then bend your left knee twice. Switch sides and repeat the same steps for your right leg.
Hamstrings (Biceps Femoris)
Sit down and place the foam roller under your left glute. Roll back and forth over the upper part of your hamstring four times. Then, position the roller just below your glute and shift from left to right twice, applying cross friction. Perform the same steps for your right hamstring.
Deep Hip Muscles (Piriformis)
While sitting on the foam roller, shift your weight to your left side. Roll from your left glute to just below your hip bone four times. Then, pull your left knee towards your chest and extend it twice. Repeat these movements for your right hip.
Outer Hip Muscles (Tensor Fasciae Latae)
Lie on your left side with the foam roller under your left hip, feet spread apart, and right hand placed on your hip. Shift your weight slightly back and forth about an inch or two, four times. Switch to your right hip and do the same.
Lower Back (Thoracolumbar Fascia)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Position the foam roller under your lower back. Slowly let your knees fall to the left side, pause, then to the right side. Repeat this alternating motion twice more on each side.
Upper and Middle Back (Thoracic Spine)
Lie back with your knees bent, placing the foam roller under your mid-back. With your hands supporting your head, roll from your mid-back to the top of your shoulder blades four times. Then, pause and pivot by dropping your elbow towards your hip twice on each side.
Outer Upper Back (Latissimus Dorsi)
Lie on your right side with your right arm extended straight, thumb pointing upwards, and position the foam roller below your right underarm. Roll from just below the underarm to just above your waist (the bottom of your lat) and back up four times. Then, rotate your right palm upwards and sweep your arm forward and back. Repeat on the left side.
Back of the Arm (Triceps)
Face down, position the roller along the backside of your right arm, just above the elbow. Roll over your triceps four times, then pause and bend your right arm twice. Switch to the left arm and repeat the process.