Although cycling is an excellent cardiovascular workout, it can be hard on the back if done long distances. However, many back problems can be prevented with simple strategies on and off the bike.
Studies have shown that cycling fatigue can alter the dynamics of muscle movement patterns and lead to back pain. Switching body positions frequently and improving core strength is essential to prevent this, and in this article, you will learn how to avoid back pain while riding a bike.
Stretch Your Legs
Stretching is a crucial part of any workout and is necessary for cyclists. Since cycling is a repetitive activity, it can lead to tightness in several muscle groups. Stretching helps increase flexibility, improve posture, and tells the body it’s time to rest. But it’s important to remember two things: never stretch before and only do static stretching after your ride. Static stretching has been shown to decrease performance by causing the muscles to contract prematurely, increasing your chances of injury. Instead, do dynamic exercises like walking lunges or plyometrics before riding to get the blood flowing and the muscles warm up.
This exercise is excellent for the quadriceps and hip flexors, which can become tight in cyclists. Stand with your right foot against a wall or couch, and flex your left leg so that it’s up against the wall. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Many cyclists spend much time hunched over the handlebars, leading to tight shoulders and neck muscles. This simple stretch can help relieve that tension and ease neck pain.
Keep Your Back Straight
When you are cycling, it is essential to maintain a neutral spine. This doesn’t mean that your back has to be completely straight like you would stand up at a desk, but that your spine is in a reasonably straight line from your hips to your shoulders. This can be difficult, especially when you are leaning forward as you ride, such as when riding in the drops on a road bike. This is when your core muscles work the hardest to keep you from slouching or hunching over while you ride.
Muscle fatigue is another important factor that can cause back pain in cyclists. If you are tired, your hamstring and calf muscles will tighten and alter the movement pattern of your core muscles. This can put stress on your lower back.
A solid core can significantly reduce the risk of back pain from cycling. Try to incorporate exercises that involve your back, pelvis, hips, and abdomen. This will help to strengthen these muscle groups and improve their coordination. One example of a great core exercise is the plank. This is done by lying on a padded surface with your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs so that your toes and hands bear your body’s weight, and hold for 30 seconds.
Strengthen Your Core
Weak core muscles can contribute to back pain while cycling. Whether you cycle professionally or for fun, having a solid core is essential. The core muscles include the abs, lower back, and obliques. These muscles help stabilize the spine, prevent injury, and transfer power from the legs to the upper body.
A strong core can also improve your cycling posture and reduce strain on your back and shoulders. Try plank, mountain climbers, and glute bridges to strengthen your body. You can also perform a few crunches at the end of your workout to tone the core muscles.
Your body works hard to keep you in the proper position when riding. If you have a weak heart, your back muscles may need to work harder to compensate, which can cause them to fatigue quickly and lead to back pain. A stronger core can help you stay in the aero position longer and boost your power over rough terrain and long rides.
If you’re doing all the right things fitness-wise and still experiencing back pain, it could be due to your bike setup. Find a bike that fits you well, and ensure your seat is at the correct height. Consider adding more suspension to your bike to help absorb the impact from rough roads and other terrain.
Take a Break
While cycling is a great exercise, it can be hard on your back. It’s essential to take a break from the bike occasionally to help prevent back pain and fatigue. Stretching and resting after your rides are also necessary to help avoid back pain.
A proper bike fit is also essential. A poor fit can cause many problems, including lower back pain. This can be caused by a saddle that’s too low or high, an excessive reach, or a leg length discrepancy. Getting a professional bike fit can help you find the best position for your body.