Foam Roller Recovery
Our favorite moves
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a pro racer with top-notch equipment and a personal masseuse to cater to your body’s every need? So do we. It would be amazing to come home from a long ride, toss off the shoes, boil some pasta and go for a deep-tissue massage. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality. But, what we do have access to is our handy-dandy foam roller, which can nearly do the same job at home without having to bust out the massage table.
Recovery is key: Most riders love to spend as much time in the saddle as possible, but with tight and sore muscles, it can be hard to recover in time for your next epic ride. We found that doing a few basic foam-roller moves kept our muscles loose and ready to go.
WHAT IS A FOAM ROLLER?
A foam roller is a high-density foam tube that is about 6 inches in diameter and anywhere from 12 to 36 inches long. The scientific name for foam rolling is self-myofascial release (SMR), which is basically just a fancy way of saying self-given deep-tissue massage. A person using a foam roller uses his or her body weight to press certain muscles against the roller, and then moves back and forth slightly to release adhesions and scar tissue caused by working out. This helps to speed up the healing and recovery process. Foam rolling can be a bit painful, but it’s a good kind of pain that many cyclists have come to enjoy.
HOW TO BUY A FOAM ROLLER
Rollers come in all shapes and sizes and densities. A roller with a hard inner core will last longer, but the outer density is more of a personal preference. Many riders who have more developed muscles will be able to handle a denser roller, but don’t be afraid to start off with a softer roller and work your way up. We recommend a roller that ranges from 18 to 25 inches, because it will be easier to trans- port to races or use around the house. Be prepared to spend anywhere from $20 to $40 at your local sporting goods store or online.
For all workouts, spend 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each area and break down each muscle group into two or three sec- tions in order to focus on tight spots and prevent big movements. Roll slowly and pause on tighter areas to help break apart adhesions and scar tissue. Plan to do these exercises a few times a week, and be careful not to exceed the recommended time limit.
1. Quadriceps: Start in a push-up position with the foam roller under your quadriceps. Lift your feet off the ground by bending your elbows and supporting your upper body. Make sure to keep a straight back and try pointing your toes right or left to locate tight spots. To add pressure, cross one leg behind the other and roll out one leg at a time.
2. Adductors: Stay in the same push-up position, but this time lift your right knee up and your left leg straight out behind you. Place the roller at a diagonal underneath the inner part of your upper leg. Make sure to roll both sides, and keep in mind that this one can be painful, so support your body weight according to the pressure you want.
3. Calves: Move to a seated position and place the roller under your calves with your arms out behind you, lifting your body off the ground. Roll slowly and, if more pressure is needed, roll one calf at a time by throwing one leg over the other.
4. Hamstring: Stay in the same position and move the roller higher up your legs behind your hamstrings. As with your calves, go slowly and adjust pressure accordingly.
5. Glutes: Sit down on the roller with your arms out behind you. Lie back and roll out your entire gluteus. Spending time on these large muscles might also help to alleviate lower back pain.
6. Lats/upper back: Lie on your back with the foam roller across your shoulder blades and roll back and forth. Avoid rolling past your shoulders onto your neck and don’t go too far down your back. After squaring up with the roller, try lying on your side with your arm stretched out to target your lats. Change sides and repeat.
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