After a long day of cycling or running, you are likely to experience tired or tight muscles and tendons. One of the best DIY ways to release tension in these areas is to practice foam roller exercises to massage deep down and really work out the lactic acid and knots that may be interfering with your muscle recovery.
What Type Of Roller Is Right For Me?
Shopping for a foam roller really boils down to two questions: How often will you use it? How much money do you want to spend? If you plan to just roll out your muscles only when you’re desperate, it wouldn’t make sense to splurge on an expensive roller. You can purchase rollers that are adequate for what you need at a fair price ($15-$25). If you plan to use a roller daily and want top-notch results, we recommend springing for the pricier rollers that are designed to target muscles specifically to aid recovery. The roller pictured above is The GRID by Trigger Point Performance Therapy and costs about $40. They have the same style roller in multiple colors, sizes and in bundles with instructional videos. You may want to shop around at your local bike shop or sporting goods store that carries different rollers so you can test out the density and style that best suits your needs.
How To Get Started:
Once you have decided what type of roller is right for you, now you get to learn how to do some foam roller exercises! This is where the love/hate relationship begins. For sore, knotted or tired muscles, rolling them out brings a rush of relaxation and relief (the love) at the cost of temporary pain (the hate.) FYI – we’re not talking “real pain” here, just “holy crap – that muscle is tiiiiight” kind of pain… Like that feeling when you’re getting a knot worked out of your shoulders and it hurts-so-good. That’s what you should be feeling. If you feel “real” or sharp pain, you may have torn muscles or another injury and you should consult a physician or athletic trainer asap.
3 Foam Roller Exercises To Try:
If everything is good to go and you feel comfortable to begin rolling, check out these 3 foam roller exercises to try:
- IT Band: Position yourself in a side-plank with both hands on the ground. Place foam roller under thigh closest to the ground. Bend the leg that’s not touching the roller at about 90° with foot flat on the ground so that it is supporting part of your weight. Shift your weight so that the roller glides up and down your IT band for about 30 seconds. Repeat and then switch sides.
- Hamstrings: Sit with your legs extended in front of you and the foam roller underneath your thighs. Cross your legs so that one thigh is pressing on the roller. Place your hands on the ground behind your bottom to provide support. Lift your butt up off the ground and gently move so that roller glides up and down your hamstring for 30 seconds. Repeat and then switch sides.
- Lower back: Sit with the foam roller under your bottom. Place feet flat on the ground with a bend in your knees and hands behind your head (like you’re doing a crunch). Slowly shift your weight so that the roller is in place at the small of your back. With abs engaged, gently rock your knees so that the roller is massaging your lower back. Massage for two reps of 30 seconds each.
Once you get the feel of using your roller, you can branch out and simply roll however feels good. There are also plenty of YouTube videos with instructions on targeting certain areas with your roller that you can check out. Just remember to start slow, listen to your body and repeat often for optimal results.