I’m sure you’ve witnessed many athletes doing static stretching before the start of their event. Don’t do this. You are actually reducing the contraction force of the muscle when you do this before your workout or event. Save stretching for after the event or workout. Instead, use foam rolling – myofascial release – to get you ready for the demands of your workout or event.
I like to use the following sequence to target major muscle groups of legs and torso:
1. Hip Flexors
6. Latissimis dorsi
Tools you’ll need. You’ll need foam roller with a density that you can tolerate. This might be rather “soft” (compresses easily) at first but with practice you’ll likely need a roller with greater density to achieve the same amount of myofascial release. A foam roller ball or softball, lacrosse ball or baseball also work well in some applications.
What to do. For each muscle group in the list above find the spot that has the most tension (you’ll know when you’ve found it). Keep the pressure on this point for enough time to get it to release but don’t spend minutes on it. It often helps to make small adjustments with the roller around the hotspot (millimeter movements). Do your best to keep all muscles relaxed as you work on the spot. The release will feel like tension leaving the area – I envision it being like melting butter. Do this on the worst spots and then move on. You’ll probably find that you always have tension in the same places; this makes it easier to attack the areas once you are tuned into where they are. Some rolling instructions will have you roll back and forth over a muscle group (like your quads). I don’t find this effective. Also be careful rolling your legs in a direction that moves blood away from your heart as this can damage the valves in your leg veins.
Do this on a regular basis – daily if possible. Combine with the activation exercises we discussed a few weeks ago before workouts and events for good preparation. Next time we’ll discuss post workout/event stretching.
We are Coach Al and Trish. Our goal is to share good nutrition and help support healthy lifestyles while keeping it real and simple because we all have busy lives. Nothing fancy, just real food for real life and cycling encouragement for a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Please leave a comment or question! Happy eating and cycling!