Stretching and Foam Rolling for Cyclists
Stretching and soft-tissue therapy are essential components of a complete exercise program. Incorporating them into your fitness routine will increase performance, reduce injury, improve range of motion and benefit overall physical fitness.
Static stretching is a slow and constant stretch, with the end position held for 20 to 30 seconds. A static stretch includes the relaxation and elongating of the stretched muscle.
Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that actively moves a joint through the full range of motion. It closely duplicates movements required for a sport or activity.
One of the most commonly used modalities in stretching routines is the foam roller, which mimic a therapist’s myofascial release techniques and has been shown to increase range of motion, reduce soreness, improve tissue recovery and decrease the overall effects of stress placed on the body. Rollers come in several different lengths, densities and surface structures.
When to Use
Foam rolling should be done before dynamic or static stretching exercises to increase body temperature and improve the tissue’s ability to lengthen during a stretch.
How to Use
When using the foam roller before exercise, roll eight to 10 times at a moderate pace along the muscle and follow with dynamic stretching. When using post-exercise, slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that targeted area for 20 to 30 seconds until discomfort is reduced. If discomfort becomes intolerable, back off the area.
The most common troubled areas cyclists experience are the iliotibial bands (IT bands), hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip adductors, calves and the back. These areas are very susceptible to tightness, which can lead to injury. With rigorous training programs and competitions it is vital that these areas are addressed to decrease the chances of injury and potentially increase performance.
Individuals who have been medically diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms related to osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, varicose veins or pregnancy, or who are unsure about their condition, should consult a physician before beginning to apply soft-tissue therapy.
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