This guide uses a combination of exercises from Texan firm TP-Therapy, and their pioneering TriggerPoint range of rollers and massage balls. The exercises are designed to relieve aches and pains, and increase mobility in key muscle groups used by cyclists and runners.
A foam roller can be a key part of your recovery routine, and TriggerPoint rollers are specifically adapted to offer effective compression on key muscles, and provide a simple means to massage sore and worn-out tissue. The aim is to provide you with a do-it-yourself massaging tool, which can be used at home or at events, without any specialist training.
Try a few of the simple exercises below for just a few minutes each day, and you could see a significant improvement in mobility and performance, and a reduced chance of injury during exercise.
Calf Muscles (Lower Leg)
The calf muscle takes a lot of impact whilst running, and a lot of strain whilst cycling. It pays to keep the muscle group loose and relaxed. Here's a simple massaging exercise to relieve tension in the muscle by applying gentle pressure.
- Place the TriggerPoint Grid Roller underneath your left ankle. Cross your right leg over your left, and relax your feet to help release the muscle. Lift your body with your hands and gently roll the Grid from your ankle to the back of your knee: Roll back and forth x4 for each leg. Then, roll the leg inside to outside x4 (cross-friction).
- As a variation, try lifting your body off the ground with the roller underneath your ankle, then rotate your lower foot 2x clockwise and 2x anti-clockwise. Repeat several times on each ankle.
Your quads are your primary muscle group for cycling and running; one of the largest muscles in your body, they are instrumental to performance. Much like the calf muscle, a gentle application of pressure can help to relieve tension and soreness:
- Place the Quad roller underneath your right thigh, bend your left leg at 90 degrees and extend out to the side. Balance on your elbows with your arms outstretched. Roll yourself slowly up and down the Grid. If you feel an area of tension or pain, pause over it for 20 seconds to allow the roller to compress this area. Then roll forward and backwards x4. Replicate with the roller underneath your other thigh.
- Variation: Place the Quad roller underneath your right thigh, bend your left leg at 90 degrees and extend out to the side. Bend your right leg at the knee, so that it forces your right quad into the roller. Repeat the bend x4 for each leg. This can add extra pressure to sore spots.
The IT Band runs from your hips to your knee, and is a problem area for many cyclists (if you do encounter a problem then you should have your position on the bike looked at). However, you can increase the blood supply to the area and give some relief through this foam roller exercise:
- Lay with the roller under your left hip, bend your right leg and place your right foot firmly on the floor. Use your right foot to roll your body up and down the Grid. Again, if you feel an area of soreness, pause over this for 20 seconds to relieve the tension. Repeat the roll four times. Replicate with the roller underneath your right thigh.
The spine is crucial to any exercise, and a bad back will significantly impair your performance. This simple exercise can help to increase mobility through aiding spinal rotation.
- Lie on your back with the Grid just above the lumbar curve. Place your feet firmly flat on the floor and cradle your head in your hands. Roll the Grid forwards and backwards. Repeat x4 for each area of the spine (upper, middle, lower).
- Variation: In each area of the spine create cross friction by moving side to side. This will help to gently massage the muscle. Repeat x4 in each area.
The Piriformis muscle is in the gluteal area of the body, it is part of the lateral rotating group of muscles that surround the hips, and therefore flexibility and strength is key to sports like cycling and running where hip rotation is a key part of the movement. The below exercise can be done with the TriggerPoint Massage ball or the Grid roller, and helps to apply pressure to the Piriformis, and can help relieve tension.
- Sit on the side of one of your buttocks, with the opposite leg bent at 45 degrees. Balance on your elbow and fore-arm and roll the piriformis area of your glute. Using The Grid, you can't directly get into the Piriformis, as it runs beneath the glute max, so use the massage ball for deeper massage. If there If there is a point of soreness, pause over this for 20 seconds so that you can apply additional pressure. Repeat the roll forward/backwards x4. Apply cross friction massage x4.
- As a variation, position the roller or massage ball on the Piriformis muscle, and lift your leg to increase the pressure on the area. Rotate the leg to gently roll the massage ball around the muscle.