This page contains foam roller exercises ideal for cyclists. You can download these exercises at the bottom of the page.
Why: The quads are worked hard by cyclists and quite often get quite knotted, so you can pin-point these areas using the massage roller.
How: in a plank position, start with the roller just above the knee and move your body backwards so the roller moves slowly up towards the hips. Move quickly back the other way.
Progression: Change the effective area of massage by rotating your legs to massage the inside, outside and centre of the quads.
This is essentially a dynamic plank so you are getting a core work out here too!
Why: The shin can become tight merely due to the tightness of the quad muscles that they attach too. So it’s good practice to massage the shins as well as the quads.
How: In a plank position, start with the roller at the bottom of the shin and slowly move yourself backwards so the roller moves up the front of the shin, move quickly back the other way.
Progression 1: You can roll the inside of this muscle and/or the outside of the muscle by changing the rotation of your leg.
Progression 2: lift a leg.
Progression 3: You can progress it further to make it a harder core exercise by starting in a plank position with the roller at the top of your shins, keep your shoulders where they are and raise your bum to the ceiling into a pike position so the roller ends up at the bottom of your shins. Move into the pike position quickly, and move slowly out of it.
Why: The hamstrings are worked hard by cyclists and they shorten due to the fact that they are never extended to full length during the pedal stroke. Rolling them can help with this shortening.
How: Start with the roller just above the back of the knee, move your body so that the roller moves slowly towards the buttocks. Move back quickly the other way.
Progression: lift one leg to increase the pressure of the roller on the rolled leg.
Why: The IT band gets very tight on cyclists and can cause knee and hip problems if it isn’t released regularly. It’s a difficult muscle to stretch so the foam roller is ideal for this as it essentially stretches the muscle.
How: Start on your side propped up by your elbow, directly under your shoulder with the roller just above the knee. Slowly move your body so that the roller moves up to the hip. Move quickly back the other way.
Progression 1: lift the foot of the leg you are rolling off the floor.
Progression 2: lift the top left onto the leg you are rolling into a side plank.
Why: The Piriformis is another muscle that gets tight on cyclists.
How: Sit on the roller on the side of one of your buttocks. Move around until you find the point that is tight.
Progression 1: deepen the massage by lifting your feet.
Progression 2: use a hard tennis ball or golf ball to get right into the muscle.
Why: The calves get really tight and shorten in cyclists as it doesn’t get stretched during the pedal stroke.
How: Start at just above the ankle and move your body slowly so that the roller moves up to just below the back of the knee, roll quickly back down. Pay particular attention to the belly of the muscle, the widest part of the muscle. Progression: Lift a leg to increase the pressure in the roller.
Why: The lower back can be painful in cyclists as it is held in an extended position over long periods of time on the bike.
How: Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor, knees bent and feet hip width apart. Start with the roller just above the buttocks and move your body so the roller moves slowly to mid back. Move quickly back the other way.
Why: The upper back does get tight but is frequently ignored. It is especially tight in time triallists and it is important that the muscles between the shoulder blades are loose so that the rider can get into an aerodynamic position on the aero-bars comfortably.
How: Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor, knees bent and feet hip width apart. Start from the middle of the shoulder blades and roll slowly to mid-back. Roll quickly back the other way. Careful not to pull your head up so as to protect your neck.