Many riders know their bikes need to be cared for to stay in proper working order; however, taking care of the engine of your bike—your body—is equally important. Our bodies deserve to be treated with the same level of care and respect that we show our bikes. A great way to do this is using self-massage to both warm up and cool down before and after a ride. We teamed up with fitness expert Lionel Araya to discuss some key areas cyclists need to focus on, as well as some of the best tools for the job. Let’s hear what Lionel has to say about self-care for cyclists.
Lionel Araya is a Los Angeles-based fitness coach and movement specialist who is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). He has been working with athletes of all ages and levels for more than 25 years, including mountain bikers, cyclists and runners, and tennis, soccer and basketball players. Lionel enjoys utilizing mindfulness techniques tailored for his clients that enable them to reach their optimum potential in fitness and life.
Lionel’s Thoughts on Muscle Recovery
“From my viewpoint, the most important part of a bike ride is the warm-up and cool-down. Unfortunately, they tend to be the portions of training that most people neglect. The warm-up not only prepares muscle tissue and prevents injury, it’s also a great way to stimulate the central nervous system and prep your mindset for a good ride. One good warm-up or cool-down routine involves a myofascial-release technique known as “foam rolling.” “Fascia” refers to the vast web of connective tissue that supports the muscles, nervous system and more. Repetitive movements can create wear and tear in the body, as well as tightness, scarring and inflammation. Foam rolling is a great way to increase pliability in problem areas and to release tension and develop flexibility.”
Sit on the roller with your hands behind you. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Gently lean your body to your left side and roll your weight forward and back. This movement is a great release for your lower back, glutes and hips.
ILIOTIBIAL BAND (AKA OUTSIDE OF QUADRICEPS)
Lying on your right side, place the roller just above your hip. Place your right elbow down and left hand in front for support. Keep the right leg straight and the left leg bent, crossing over the right. Hold your body parallel to the ground and use your hands and elbows to shift your body up in small increments until the roller reaches the top of your knee. Then reverse it.
Starting on the left side, place the roller just below the right hips. Your elbows should be on the floor with your body in a plank position and the right knee should be bent. Gradually push the roller in small increments up and down until you reach the top of your knee. Reverse back to your hip.
Start on the right side by placing the roller perpendicular underneath your right leg just above the back of the knee. The hands support from behind while you push your hips up and forward, rolling back and forth in small increments until you reach your butt. Reverse back down to the knee.
MID/UPPER BACK AND SHOULDERS
Start with the left side and place the roller under your mid back, then lift your hips off the floor. Next, lean towards your left side, and gently roll up and down your back in small increments.
PECS/MID BACK PASSIVE RELEASE
Place the roller in line with your spine. Extend your arms to the side and gently lean your body left to right while breathing. This will help open up your chest and pecs and relieve the tightness that comes from being in a hunched position during a long bike ride.
A great alternative to the simple foam roller is a massage gun. There are many options on the market, with one of the most popular brands being Theragun. While a massage gun is faster and easier to use, Theragun’s models range in price from $200–$600. If you’re willing to experiment with lesser-known brands, you may find massage guns at a more affordable price.