Tips: Biking and Back Pain

Biker back painHey,
I am an avid biker and cycle almost everyday. But lately I have been getting terrible back pain. Could improper posture while riding cause this? And if so how should I sit?
— Biker Chick

I think biking is a great form of exercise and transportation, but not if it is killing your back. I think the issue could be three fold. To see what I think you can do to reduce your pain, just read more.

The first thing to check is your bike fit. I am wondering if you adjusted your bike in any way recently because slight adjustments can create serious changes in your body mechanics. Raising the seat too high could cause some serious back pain. Adjust the seat of the bike so when pedaling your knee is just shy of being totally straight on the down stroke. Have someone look at you from behind while you ride to make sure you are not rocking your pelvis side to side as you ride. For more tips read How to Fit a Bike. You can also have your bike adjusted professionally at most bike stores.

Another culprit of back pain could be your posture. Like sitting and standing, you shouldn’t slouch when you are riding. Don’t round your back, but keep the spine long and straight. Tip forward from your pelvis to reach your handlebars rather than bending at your waist. Your shoulder blades should not be up by your ears either.

Your back might also be weak and the ligaments lining the spine could be aching from being in an overstretched, rounded position. While biking, it is good to put a little tension back into the stretched ligaments by occasionally exaggerating arching your back. While riding, I often hyperextend my spine by doing the arching half of the popular yoga warmup cat and cow. Off your bike you should do back strengthening and core exercises. Nothing feels better than doing some back extension moves on an exercise ball after getting off a bike, or post spin class. I also have found that the Superman exercise, which requires no equipment, can really help to strengthen weak backs and alleviate back pain. It is important to stretch your legs — quads, hamstrings and calves — after riding. Try this piriformis stretch when you are out riding, it can help reduce back pain as well.

Hope my answer helps you get back in the saddle again.



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