Cycling’s low-impact nature makes it the perfect sport for people prone to injury. People recovering from other injuries or older folks with sensitive bones choose it for this reason specifically. You could be 90 years old and still safely exercise by bicycling! But, like all sports, cycling involves repetitive motion, which can result in different types of overuse injuries. Lower back pain from cycling is one of the most common of them all.
How to fix lower back pain from cycling
Lower back pain can affect riders of any age, but newbies to the cycling community perhaps have the highest risk. This is because the greatest contributor to lower back pain from cycling is a poor bike fit. Proper bike fit ensures that riders are maintaining the healthiest posture possible, as well as moving knees and other joints on their proper track. Bad posture on a bike can occur just as easily as bad posture from sitting at a desk all day. Whether you’re hunching over a computer or a set of handles, your back is not going to like it.
When you’re picking out your bicycle, make sure you’re getting the right size for your body height. Employees at the bike shop should be able to help you with this. But, you’ll need to pay a little extra to have a professional fit your bike for you.
If you’re on a budget, you can keep in mind a few basics and try to fit it on your own. For instance, adjust your handlebars so that you can reach them comfortably from an upright position, and so that your elbows are slightly bent when you’re riding. Adjust your saddle so that your knee never extends far beyond your ankle. Ideally, your knee will be just above the ankle at the three o’clock position when pedalling. Bend your knee slightly when your pedal is all the way down. Check to see that these things are adjusted properly. However, if you’re experiencing regular lower back pain from cycling, it’s probably worth investing a little extra for a professional’s opinion.
Another big reason for lower back pain is lack of core strength. If the core doesn’t have the capacity to do its part in supporting the torso, then the lower back has to compensate. In all cases of lower back pain, a stronger core will help. Add yoga poses like plank or bridge, along with lower-back stretches, to your warmup routine.
Amateurs and overachievers alike might also suffer from lower back pain as a result of going too hard too soon. When you ride, you should always feel strong and confident. Never push yourself to exhaustion. If you continue riding to the point of fatigue in the leg muscles, your technique will suffer. This can lead not only to lower back injury, but to other issues like knee injuries as well. Avoid this by increasing your mileage a little at a time.
Lastly, pay attention to your riding style. Mashing your pedals at a high gear while heading uphill may seem hardcore, but it’s adding unnecessary pressure to your muscles. Shift down when necessary. And, remember to change positions. Nothing says you have to stay still as a statue while you’re pedalling! Move around a little, or take a break and stretch out your hard-working muscles.