There's little debate that a post-ride massage can speed recovery and improve performance the next time you head out on the bike. But it's a luxury that most cyclists outside of the professional circuit don't have the time, money or resources to take advantage of on a regular basis.
You'll probably never have a personal soigneur to pamper you like pro cyclists in the Tour de France. But what if there was a way to get the same recovery benefits of a massage after every ride for a one-time purchase of $30?
The answer to this secret is a piece of Styrofoam called a foam roller. With the right technique and a little bit of practice, you can use it to stretch your muscles, increase circulation and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
It can also help to prevent injuries.
"Most soft tissue injuries are a result of shortened muscle fibers that form adhesions within muscles. A foam roller can help regain lost range of motion, reduce pain and restore function by lengthening muscle fibers that have been shortened by muscular adhesions," says Michael Kleinert, Acupuncturist and Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
Try these foam roller exercises for the mid and lower back, quadriceps, IT band, gluteal muscles and hamstrings to prevent injury and recover quicker for your next ride.
Mid and Lower Back
To release muscle tension in the mid and lower back, lie down and place the foam roller on your mid back. Place your hands behind your head and keep your feet flat on the ground. Contract your abs and gluteus. Let the foam roller move from the mid back to the shoulder blades.
For the lower back, shift your weight and rotate to one side of your paraspinal muscles. Support your weight with your elbow and move the foam roller from the mid back to the top of the gluteus slowly. Repeat on the other side. Complete two repetitions of 30 seconds.