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Cycling With An Achy Back?

17 August 2022
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It is common for cyclists to complain about having a sore or achy back. Commonly this can be easily avoided and is due to people rushing out on their bike or not getting the bike fitted to them correctly. Because bikes are not a one size fits all, you can get fitted for your bike cheaply and easily and it can make a big difference to back pain.

But apart from poor bike fit what are some other reasons for people getting back pain cycling?

  • The seat is too high so your knee has a less than 25% bend at the end of the stroke. This will force you to rock your pelvis from side to side to get enough power at bottom of your pedal stroke.
  • The handlebars are too far forward causing you to overstretch which will increase tension in your lower back.
  • Flexing the lower back and causing core abdominal muscles to be in a poor position and so won’t work effectively. This means you won’t be in a stable position when you’re cycling.
  • Using BIG gears. You should aim for a cadence of around 90 RPM. If you are getting lower than this then it will put extra stress on your back. 
  • Being tight! For example tight hamstrings can reduce your movement so will pull on your pelvis and rotate your spine into a more rounded position. 
  • Weak core muscles.
  • If you are riding on bumpy ground. This increases jarring and compression to the spine while you cycle and can cause your back to get aggravated.
  • Length of cycling done weekly. Cyclists who ride an average of 160 km or more per week are significantly more likely to report back pain than those who rode less km per week.

It is not just your lower back that can be affected, sometimes your neck and upper back can be achy or painful. Especially if you extend your neck for long periods causing irritation in your neck

You can also hurt your neck and upper back by bending your neck too far upwards. This will increase the strain in your neck and you could also hurt it going over unexpected bumps.

But overall we would recommend 3 main things to do:

  • Check your bike fit.
  • See if you are cycling at around 90 RPM as a low cadence puts more strain on your back so may need to be increased.
  • Strengthen your core and back muscles. Your core can protect your back if you cycle often or for long periods so is a key area to work on.

If you suffer from back pain when cycling and would like a full functional assessment or to see where you can strengthen up your body feel free to contact the clinic today on 0578678904 or book now.

Yours in Health

Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois



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