Foam Rolling for Cyclists

Written By Tilda Loftin, Ride Fitâ„¢ Coaching Advisor and Co-Owner of Vital Effort Fitness

After a long bike ride or after a hard workout on your turbo trainer or spin bike your body can feel sore and tight. Regular stretching exercises might not release enough tension and you might feel like you can't recover fast enough. If this is the case, then foam rolling might be the solution for you! The foam roller can give you fast relief and help you get back on your feet quickly! I'm not going to lie, however, it's not the most comfortable thing to do but the results are amazing! As the old saying goes, "there's no gain without pain."

Foam rolling, also called Self Myofascial Release (SMR), is a self-massage technique that will help you increase your flexibility and restore optimal muscle function. By rolling slowly back and forth on the foam roller, creating pressure with your own bodyweight, you will increase the muscles blood circulation, break down scar tissue and stretch the muscle. All these things help you recover faster and perform better! It can also help you prevent and rehabilitate injuries because there will be less wear and tear on the muscle when it can move optimally (i.e., it's relaxed rather than tight).

Here are some key points to remember for foam roller exercises:

  • It's important that you have a good posture when you roll. Keep your body in alignment and keep your core strong. Support yourself with your arms and elbows tucked close to your body to avoid too much stress on your shoulders;
  • Roll slowly back and forth over the targeted muscle group for 1 - 2 minutes;
  • Spend extra time directly over tight knots or extra tight muscles;
  • Avoid rolling over the skeleton;
  • Use the foam roller at least 2 - 3 times per week.

In the video below I'll demonstrate seven simple foam rolling exercises that will aid any cyclist to recover quickly after a hard training session.

Here are a few helpful hints relating to the exercises you've just seen:

  • Iliotibial Band (IT Band): Lay on your side, start rolling just below the hip and roll slowly to a couple inches above the knee. Place the resting leg above the other leg. If this creates too much pressure, place your resting leg on the floor and push up gently to reduce some of the pressure;
  • Hamstrings: Place the roller just below your glutes and place your hands close behind you. Roll one hamstring at the time and bend the resting leg. Place the resting leg above the other leg if you need more pressure;
  • Calf: Place the roller under your knees and roll along your calves down to your ankles and up again. If you need more pressure, place one leg above the other and roll one calf at a time;
  • Quads: Start face down, place the roller just below the hips, roll between the hips and knees. To get some extra pressure roll one leg at a time, lean towards the right quad and let the left leg rest, and then visa-versa;
  • The Glutes: Sit on the roller, cross your left leg over the right leg, lean to your right side and roll the right glute. Make sure you cover the whole muscle - then switch legs;
  • Chest/Shoulder Stretch: Lay the foam roller along your spine and make sure your head is supported. Let your arms fall gently to the side and turn your palms up. Take a few deep breaths in and let the chest muscle relax and release;
  • Back: Place the foam roller perpendicular to your spine across your mid-back. Cross your arms and stabilize your head in a "neutral" position;
  • Engage your core and raise the hips until unsupported. Roll gently down on the thoracic wall and then back up towards the shoulder blades.
Tags: foam rolling, foam roller, Iliotibial Band, IT Band, Hamstrings, Calf, Quads, Glutes, indoor cycling, spinning, spin

Tilda Loftin
Tilda Loftin is a certified personal fitness trainer, certified massage therapist and co-owner of Vital Effort Fitness. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, is a spinning, core, water-aerobic andboot campp instructor, and specializes in triathlon/run coaching, personal fitness training, and pre/post natal training. Tilda is a four times ironman finisher, marathon finisher, Swedish Classic finisher (90k cross-country skiing, 300k cycling, 2 miles swim, 20 miles cross-country run) and qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.