How to reduce lower back pain from cycling

How to reduce lower back pain from cycling

There’s nothing worse than lower back pain. Whether it’s caused by an old injury, chronic pain, or lack of good posture, lower back pain can have serious consequences on your overall wellness.

Flare-ups of lower back pain are excruciating. They make sitting down as well as the act of participating in activities extremely painful. 

Most sports do not mix well with lower back pain, but one sport can actually intensify and further strain your pains - cycling. 

Due to the natural sitting position that cycling requires of its participants, the possibility of further pain or even new lower back problems is incredibly easy to produce. 

Luckily there are a few different ways to prevent lower back pain while cycling. 

1) Does Your Bike Fit You?

The most common way for cyclists to encourage back pain when they ride is to use a bike that does not fit. 

When your saddle is too high, your hips will move from side to side when you pedal.

To remedy this problem, make sure that you have a slight bend in the knee when your pedal stroke is at the very bottom of the stroke (six o’clock position).

If you are hitting the six o’clock position with a straight leg then that is a good way to know that your saddle is too high. 

Similarly, if you have too much bend in your knee then you will not get the most efficient pedal stroke and increase the amount of energy required to make a full pedal stroke, which can also hurt your lower back.

Another common bike fit problem that encourages back pain is reaching too far forward on your bike’s handlebars.

Bikes are not built in half sizes so it’s quite normal for people to in between bike sizes. If you find that you’re in between bike sizes, then it’s common practice to opt for the smaller bike. 

In addition, not all bikes will fit you. Depending on a bike’s geometry and your own body, there are many different bike models that won’t work for you. 

The best way to find a bike that works for you is to be fit for a bike by a cycling retail professional. They can help you decide what will feel the most comfortable depending on your cycling style and steer you away from bicycles that will cause future complications. 

2) Stretch. Stretch. And then stretch some more. 

The best way to avoid lower back pain when cycling is to make sure your body has been properly stretched before and after you being a cycling workout.

The majority of low back pain is created by muscular imbalances, which can be prevented by stretching. 

A couple of stretches you can try before you head out on the road or trail is: 

  1. 5 Second Shoulder Blade Squeeze
  2. Opposite Arm + Leg Reach

3) Core Power

Another great way to reduce bike pain from cycling is to spend time working on your core. Whether you’re a mountain biker, road cyclist, or city commuter, you create power on your bike and control your bike’s movements with your core muscles. 

The core muscles that you want to make sure are the strongest are part of the inner unit, these "muscles attach to the lowest vertebra (known as L5), namely the transverse abdominis (the deepest ab muscles that wrap horizontally around your midsection like a corset) and multifidus (the muscles running vertically along your spine)."

These muscles keep you stable in your saddle and keep you from developing bad posture while you ride. 

Some exercises that we recommend to develop your abdominal muscles for cycling are: 

  1. Reverse Curl 
  2. Single Leg Crunch 
  3. Power Bridge

4) Work Up To Longer Rides 

Finally, another common way that cyclists, specifically newer cyclists, develop lower back pain is by riding too many miles without enough proper training. 

Your body needs time to work up to being in the saddle for a long period of time not to mention your endurance. 

To work up to longer rides, it’s important that you cycle a few times a week. If you can’t get out on the road or trail all the time, then try working out on a stationary bicycle in a gym or your house.