Pearson Physio Blog

Self-massage techniques for cyclists

IMG_0921Being such a repetitive uni-directional activity, cyclists are prone to developing tightness and imbalance in certain muscles groups. Here are some do-it-yourself techniques to try to relieve some common tightness encountered by cyclists, or between visits to your friendly Physio or Sports masseur.

1) Knee pain – Iliotibial band – foam roller

Lying on your side propped up on your elbow, get at ITB stiffness by rolling the side of your thigh over the foam roller. It is best to avoid rolling directly over the bump on the side of your knee (femoral condyle) and hip (greater trochanter). You can also turn on to your front to do your quads.

2) Buttock or leg pain – Piriformis – hockey ball

Sitting or lying slightly on your side on the floor with your hip flexed, use a hard ball to find the deep tender point in the middle of your buttock, hold the position for about a minute. A trigger point will often refer pain down the back of your leg and performing this technique will relieve that tension. The muscle is quite deep, so a soft ball that deforms may not be as effective.

3) Back pain – Quadratus lumborum – tennis ball

Lie on your back on a tennis ball placed just beside your spine about halfway between your ribcage and pelvis – hold the position for 30-60 seconds. This will release tension in the back muscle that lies deep between your rib cage and pelvis, next to your spine, which can often refer pain to your hip area.

4) Neck pain – Levator scapulae & rhomboids – handlebars

The neck and upper back muscles can tighten up after a long spell on the bike but they are hard to get to, so pick up a spare set of handlebars, and use one of the drops to apply pressure to the muscles on the inside of your shoulder blade and base of your neck.

5) Calf tightness – Calves – hands

Use your fingers and thumb to apply slow firm pressure in an upwards direction along the length of your calves. Feel for “knots” especially in the meaty parts of your calf in the inside and outside (gastrocs) and work into those.

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