As the new generation and travelers become more health-conscious and struggling with more exhaustive exercise routines, people are pursuing cycling as a regular hobby. Whether it is to get to work, get in shape or get to the grocery store, cycling provides a wide range of practical uses. Along with numerous health and environmental benefits.
Riding a bike is not, however, all rainbows and sunshine. No matter what your age, level of fitness or experience, pedaling for a long time can lead to ankle, neck, thigh and knee pain, usually attributed to improper gear or bad posture. Poor form and function can also put your back at risk, increasing compression to the spine and straining your lower back muscles. If you have noticed pain developing in your back after cycling, here are some simple tips to keep you on the saddle and off the doctor’s table.
Improper form and function can also put your back at risk, increasing compression to the spine and straining your lower back muscles.
What Causes Back Pain While Cycling?
Most new cyclists or people foreign to the sport believe that cycling is all about the legs. Although leg muscles play a major role in propelling the bicycle forward, cycling is more like a full upper body workout. For example, when you push down on the pedal, the arm on the opposite side of your body will also be pulling the handlebar up. During this process, the ascending leg (i.e., the leg-pulling upward) causes the hip flexor muscles to engage, which are connected to the lumbar spine. As your lower back muscles grow strained and fatigued, they become inflamed or injured, leading to the development of the pain, so many cyclists have grown accustomed to.
According to a study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine, nearly 80% of recreational cyclists had reported back or neck problems in the last year alone. That is twice as much as people who reported knee problems (41.7%) and far above those who reported wrist and hand pain (31.1%). As you can see, back pain and cycling seem to go hand in hand. The good news is, there are simple tips you can follow to keep your back healthy no matter how much you ride. Aside from giving your body ample time to recover, here are some of the most common reasons why cyclists get back pain and how you can prevent it.
Adjust Seat Position
Ensuring your bike fits properly is one of the most important steps to staying healthy on a bike. When it comes to back pain, one of the main culprits is your seat position. If your seat is too high or too far back, your cycling posture will be compromised, and excessive strain will be put on your lower back. Adjust the seat of your bike so that your knee is just shy of being straight on your downstroke.
If your seat is too high or too far back, your cycling posture will be compromised, and excessive strain will be put on your lower back.
Also, be sure to place your seat is in a position that allows your upper arms to hang at a 10 degree angle forward from your body, and the forearms about 45 degrees from horizontal. In case you have any hesitations or concerns about the bike’s security, go through a proper inspection by a skilled mechanic, and ask him to review all the required changes.
Lower Your Gear on Hills
One of the primary causes of lower back pain during cycling is overexerting your muscles on hills. Often, cyclists do not put their bike in a low enough gear when attacking a hill. This puts extra stress on your hip flexor muscles and lumbar spine, increasing the chance of injury and inflammation. Furthermore, when people are in high gear, they tend to stand more while pedaling, a position that affects the angle of your back concerning your bike and increases stress on your back. Also, when climbing hills, make sure low gear is in action to ride comfortably enough and evade any speculations of back pain.
Strengthen Your Core
Core strength is very important in preventing back pain in all walks of life, as it helps take the pressure and strain off your lower back. This is especially true for cyclists, as a large amount of force is transferred through these muscles during each pedal stroke. If you suffer from back pain, try to strengthen the muscles that support your spine, and you should be able to ride longer and harder without injury.
Practice Stretching & Yoga
Lack of flexibility is another known issue affecting lower back pain, caused mainly by leg length discrepancies that force the body to overcompensate while cycling. Without a proper range of motion, you will not be able to use your glutes for force when cycling, and instead, put too much weight on your arms, causing tightness across your neck and lower back. Over time, this will increase the risk of developing chronic problems such as soreness in your lower back, which will impact not only your riding but also your day-to-day activities and lifestyle.
Yoga, undoubtedly, is an exceptional way to improve flexibility and posture with short as well as long-term interests. Among various recovery and prevention procedures, yoga also supports core muscles and prevent injuries. Yes, poses do differ based on the type of pain, level of your fitness, and accessible abilities. Of-course, stretching, and a perfect sleeping position will help you cure back pain.
Endeavor Chiropractic Help
Tension and imbalances that build up as a result of cycling can cause immense back pain in cyclists. Although many people typically reach for painkillers for immediate relief, this will only treat the symptoms and not the root cause of the pain. Chiropractic care is a natural and non-invasive treatment that corrects the imbalances of the body and relieves tension placed on the joints, nerves, and muscles. Through a series of spinal adjustments and manipulation, a chiropractor will be able to reduce your back pain and treat the underlying causes of pain caused by cycling.
The best possible thing you can do is to locate best practices to initiate easy driving. Whether it’s making sure your bike fits properly, strengthening the muscles that support your spine, or adjusting your riding style, reducing the stress placed on the muscles in your back will reduce the chances of developing chronic pain. Make sure to report your concerns regarding form and position on the bike to your local bike shop professional and visit a chiropractic therapist for effective back pain treatment and prevention.