Do you feel stiff in the morning? Is your back tight during work or play? Do your legs feel like tree stumps when pedaling up a long climb? Maybe you have an old, nagging injury that keeps bothering you? Well, there is one piece of equipment all cyclists should use on a daily basis to save you from these problems, and even prevent future injuries! It is inexpensive, it is simple to use, and easy to store.
Sounds too good to be true, huh?
The foam roller is your new best friend. You may hear people calling it names, such as the “pain stick” or the “hurt locker” but this tool will relax your muscle adhesions, knots, and trigger points if used correctly and consistently.
When used on your legs (quads, IT bands, calves, glutes, etc) it acts as a self-myofascial release—similar to a deep tissue massage—which loosens up tight fascia that binds our muscles together. Tight leg and hip-flexor muscles are major causes of back pain, so breaking up adhesions will result in more flexibility and less pain.
To use the roller, simply start at the top of a muscle and slowly roll down until you find a tender spot. Stay on that spot for about 30 seconds, keep breathing, and the tenderness should decrease. Move down to the next spot, but avoid rolling back and forth, as it may aggravate the adhesions even farther. If the tender spot did not decrease significantly, you may return to it for another 30 seconds, but do not attack that same spot more than twice in one session!
There are many types of foam rollers and most range from $15-$45 in stores or online. Look for one that has a high-density Styrofoam rather than the real squishy ones which tend to wear down quicker, therefore are not as effective.