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Avoid back pain caused by cycling

25 June, 2013 0 comments

Avoid back pain for cyclists


How to avoid back pain caused by cycling

Ahh, back pain. It’s the most common discomfort felt by cyclists, with about a third having suffered from it during their rides. Beyond that, the majority of people are believed to have lower back pains at one point during their lives. Curse of being a human and inevitable if you’ve decided to make cycling a serious part of your life? Rather not. You see, cycling which brings about little injury – unless you fall – usually causes problems of overuse. That is, if you do something wrong for a long while, your body will undoubtedly protest. But that also implies that there are ways to prevent overuse injuries, including the common back pain. Read on for some suggestions to never have to suffer from back pain again!

But first, a word of caution – Not every back pain experienced during or after cycling has a simple root cause that can be eliminated by making a few adjustments in your training and lifestyle. If you experience sudden or very sharp pain, a sensation of pins-and-needles or numbness together with the pain, or have experienced pain during a long period of time, it is best to consult a doctor with the issue. That way you can determine or rule out any medical conditions that might be causing you to suffer.

Now, in case you don’t need a trip to the doctor’s office yet, here are tips to prevent back pain from cycling!

  1. Make your bike fit for you – If you’re still in the process of choosing a bike to buy, or are thinking of getting a new bike one of these days, your choice will also be relevant for the health of your back. Picking a bicycle that suits your height and build assures that you use a more proper posture when you cycle, naturally, and that no unnecessary tensions are created. Therefore, it is good to ask for help at the bike store to get one that is suited for you. Additionally, when you adjust your bike at home, don’t lower the handlebars too much – when sitting on your bike and resting your hands on them, your body should be lowered by 40-60 degrees. Your saddle should never tilt backwards, and its height should be just right – when you sit on your bike, you should be able to rest your foot on the pedal at its lower position with your leg bent ever so slightly.
  2. Use the right posture on the bike – If you constantly use bad form while cycling, this can lead to tensions and pain building up. To avoid this from happening, make sure you keep you back flat or slightly arched like a bridge, never allow it to arch the other way around. Additionally, distribute some but not too much of your weight onto your arms that rest on the handlebars. By taking note of your posture during workouts, good form will become automatic.
  3. Note your posture while off the bike – More often than not, back pain that emerges during or after cycling is not caused just by the way you ride your bike, but because tensions have been building up throughout the day, and your back has finally had enough. Therefore, a pain-free back starts when you’re off your bike. Make sure your posture at work is the best possible, and move around and stretch every once in a while. Additionally, special posture exercises, Pilates, and Yoga can help to improve your everyday form. This way, your back won’t be at the edge and prone to pain when you mount your bike.
  4. Don’t forget to stretch – To release tensions from your back, make sure you stretch before and after workouts. It is not only back-specific exercises that help to keep your back pain-free, but stretching other body parts worked through cycling – like your glutes and hips - also helps. Therefore, a thorough stretching regimen is best. When you’re cycling, standing up from the saddle for a while stretches your back a bit, which can delay the creation of excess tension.
  5. Train your core – A strong core helps to maintain stability as you cycle, thus keeping your form more fixed, and your back less prone to pain. Make sure to train both your abdominals and back muscles to achieve good core strength.
  6. Avoid heavy backpacks – Wearing a backpack on your bike can cause unnecessary stress on your back and shoulders, so if you often have a load to carry, it might be smart to invest in bicycle bags that are attached to the sides of your bike. Or if you use your bike for grocery shopping, you might want to opt for a basket at the front instead!

Bottom line

Prevention is always easier than treatment. Thus – and especially if you’re prone to back pain – you should take the necessary measures to never have to suffer from back pains during and after bike rides (again). Do you have more tips for avoiding back pain? Share them in the comments!


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