Fitness: Adventure Bike Fitness

A long day in the saddle can get your muscles working more than you might imagine, so it’s important to give them some aftercare in the form of foam rolling. Mark Ansell explains more.

A long day in the saddle can get your muscles working more than you might imagine, so it’s important to give them some aftercare in the form of foam rolling. Mark Ansell explains more.

This issue we are going to look at some biker pain relief. Those hours in the saddle can cause soreness even if you are using the bi-monthly guide here to condition yourself to adventure bike riding. There has been a recent development in fitness, whereby you can use a simple piece of kit to cause what is termed ‘myofascial release’. It sounds technical, but essentially what you are doing is relieving soreness of muscles by targeting the myofascia that surrounds muscle tissue. Other reported benefits include increased flexibility, improved circulation and lower levels of muscular stress. 

In order to perform these exercises, you will need to add to your small amount of fitness kit. The best item will be a foam roller. These are available on a well-known internet auction site for less than ten pounds. When you are on the road you can use a tennis ball for similar effects, as this will take up minimal room in your panniers. 

Foam rollers can be used on many areas of the human body and the exercises included here have been selected for common bike riding ailments. On a personal note, I suffer with intermittent sciatica and have used myofascial release after a long ride out to great soothing effect. As a footnote to this introduction, it is important to remember that there may be some discomfort whilst performing these exercises and it is recommended that you use this neuromuscular feedback to manage this. It will be worth it! 

Roll out 

Upper back foam rolling. This exercise will help release tension in the upper back that can be brought on by being seated in the saddle for many hours. Lay with your back on the floor with your feet also on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees. Place the foam roller on your shoulders with your hands behind your head. Raise your backside and, keeping your body straight, roll over the roller until you reach the base of your ribcage. Repeat this 15 times with each repetition lasting about five seconds. Do two sets of this exercise.

Quadricep foam rolling 

The legs can take quite a battering, especially if you are up on the pegs when traversing those tricky trails. This exercise releases tension in the front of the upper leg – the quads. Lay on your front in a similar position to the plank exercise – elbows on the floor with the roller at the top of your thigh. Roll forward using your arms until the roller is just above the kneecap (patella). Do not roll onto the kneecap, as this can cause discomfort. Repeat 10 times, again with around five seconds for each repetition. Repeat twice. 

Glute/sciatica foam roller 

This is the exercise that I use for the backside muscles and that horrible feeling of the irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sit on the floor and place the roller under the backside. Lean back, supporting yourself with your arms, then bring one ankle up to rest on the opposite knee. You will immediately feel a stretch on the glute area (around your butt). Roll forwards and backwards over the backside – complete 15 reps over five seconds per rep. Repeat on the other side. Be aware, if you do suffer with sciatica, you will need to focus another set specifically on the side that is irritated.