Lower back pain is a common problem for cyclists. Some things, including poor bike fit and limited fitness or conditioning, can cause it.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent back pain. In addition, incorporating massage therapy and foam rollers into your routine can loosen tight muscles.
Plan Your Route
While stretching may not solve back pain, it can help ease discomfort and improve flexibility. Try stretching for at least 5 minutes after every ride, and make it a habit. Likewise, it would help if you tried to stretch and move your body as much as possible while at work by walking instead of taking the elevator or escalator, incorporating light exercise, or even going for a short walk in your lunch break.
Often, back problems stem from poor posture or a bike that doesn’t fit correctly. Having an expert look at your bicycle and riding positioning is important to ensure you have the best setup for your body.
Additionally, when avoiding lower back pain from riding a bike, consider adding more suspension if you’re using a road bike. This will help absorb the vibration and shock from rough terrain, which is jarring to your spine and muscles and can cause back pain. If your back hurts, visiting a physiotherapist or chiropractor for treatment as soon as possible is a good idea. They’ll strengthen your core and teach you safe exercises to prevent back pain and injury in the future.
Build Up Your Endurance
If you want to be able to ride for longer distances, you need to build your endurance. This will make it easier for you to go further and can help prevent lower back pain. Ideally, it would help if you gradually increase your distance, ensuring you can sustain the pace over long rides.
Another important thing to remember is that you should do off-bike strength training and conditioning. This will strengthen your core and back muscles, which can help prevent the rounded posture leading to lower back pain.
Another thing that can help is keeping your mind occupied during your ride. Some good ways to do this include playing quiz games with your riding group, shouting out capital cities of the world or letters of the alphabet, or even just chatting with other riders during your ride.
It is also a good idea to check your bike fit regularly. Small tweaks, like changing the height of your seat or stem, can make a big difference. This will eliminate a lot of the spine flexion often caused by poorly fitted bikes and can help avoid lower back pain.
Stretch Your Legs
Lower back pain often starts in the hips and legs, says Costello. Luckily, stretching can often help. “This is one of the best exercises to keep the lower back in good shape and prevent sprains,” she says.
Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs fully extended in front of you. Then, bend your left leg so your heel is right next to your right knee. Turn your torso toward the left and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
This yoga pose gently stretches your hips and back to improve spinal mobility, and it’s great for strengthening the muscles that support your spine. Plus, it’s a great stretch for your piriformis muscle—a small muscle in the buttocks and hips that can contribute to lower back pain.
Sit on the floor with your knees flexed and your upper body slumped forward. Then, move your legs to straighten them out before you and bring your right knee to your chest. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg.
Every cell in the human body requires adequate hydration for proper functioning. This includes cells inside spinal discs responsible for supporting the spine. If a person becomes dehydrated, the spinal discs shrink, which puts stress on the spine and can cause back pain.
If you are experiencing back pain after a long bike ride, it could be a sign of a serious problem. A chiropractor can diagnose the problem and recommend treatments that will help relieve pain and prevent future episodes.
A healthy spine and good posture can reduce your risk of lower back pain. You can also minimize the risk of back pain by staying hydrated, such as drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day. Try setting a goal for how much water you want to drink daily, and write it down to keep yourself accountable. Also, try to eat water-rich foods, such as vegetables and fruit. These foods can help you reach your hydration goals and prevent back pain.
Don’t Overdo It
If you experience lower back pain, a tingling sensation in your legs, or numbness, consult your doctor to determine if it is due to muscle strain, a spinal problem, or another condition. A doctor may prescribe rest, a physical therapy plan, or medication for pain relief.
Over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen help control back pain by decreasing inflammation and swelling and easing muscle spasms. Over-the-counter acetaminophen can also ease pain from the numbness, tingling, or tenderness in your legs or feet.
Some people are afraid to move when they have backaches, but staying active can help your muscles recover from fatigue and prevent back pain if you have ruled out serious back injuries. Ask your doctor about exercises that strengthen your core muscles to help support your spine. Also, try yoga or tai chi to improve posture and flexibility. These exercises can also reduce stress and promote relaxation. A healthy diet is also important because too much weight can increase pressure on the spine and joints.