Best Foam Rolling Routine for Mountain Bikers

July 12, 2016 8:51 pm / Category: Get You There


This post has an accompanying article, “This Soft-Tissue Maintenance Routine Will Keep You On Your Bike Longer.” Click here to read it now on the Over the Hump blog.

As mountain bikers, we put our bodies through the ringer. Introducing a soft-tissue mobilization technique like foam rolling can help you avoid limiting aches and pains so you can stay on the bike longer, train harder, and reduce your recovery time.

Recovery and maintenance programs aren’t always convenient, but I personally make it a point to implement them in my training to ensure I get to join the riding group every weekend and race stronger at Over the Hump. The daily grind takes a big toll on our bodies and will cause imbalances, whether it’s from poor posture at your desk, lack of cross training or focusing too much on strength training. This is why it’s critical for all MTB riders to actively pursue some form of mobility maintenance routine to keep their bodies balanced and their seat on the trails.

Best Foam Rolling Routines for Mountain Bikers

When you feel sore after you train hard or go for a long ride, it’s because your muscles are literally tearing apart to restructure fiber alignment for greater tolerance to that stress. This microfiber tearing will cause a formation of more cross-links so that you become stronger (Good!) However, if you don’t then work on those specific tissues after training—say, with a foam roller—they’ll become glued down in a mal-aligned direction, and you’ll lose mobility (Bad.)

The foam roller is one of my favorite tools for working out your muscle and tissue on a routine basis; it’s cheap, easy, and you can do it yourself. Ideally, you should spend time working out the tissues that are tight for five to 10 minutes daily, or until you feel about a 50% reduction in pain. After a long ride, you should also spend a little extra time focusing on the areas you worked hard.

Here are the muscles I specifically attack with the foam roller after every mountain bike ride:

  1. Calf muscles
  2. Quadriceps
  3. Groin
  4. Tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Helps work the IT band and hip flexor complex)
  5. Gluteals/piriformis
  6. Latissimus dorsi
  7. Thoracic Spine extension. Great for avoiding the dreaded Rounded Shoulder posture.


* PRO TIP: When foam rolling, focus on going across the tissue fibers (i.e. laterally rather than up and down.) This lateral rolling will emphasis on “going against the grain” and most mimics a manual therapy technique called cross friction. This will restructure the muscle fiber alignment and keeps things sliding-and-gliding freely.

By incorporating the foam roller into your daily routine, you can reduce your risk of injuries, improve recovery time and overall athleticismbest of all, it will help you feel less old! So be specific, be consistent, and respect mobility with cross friction-based foam rolling.

This post has an accompanying article, “This Soft-Tissue Maintenance Routine Will Keep You On Your Bike Longer.” Click here to read it now on the Over the Hump blog.

DustinDustin Hancock, DPT graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology/nutrition. He went on to receive his doctorate in physical therapy in 2011 from University of St. Augustine, and began his career at Rausch Physical Therapy and Sports Performance in 2012. As a snowboarder and mountain bike enthusiast, Dustin specializes in treating extreme sport athletes. As a physical therapist, Dustin says he looks forward to being a companion every step of the way on his patient’s path to recovery.

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