you experience back pains from riding there are several things that may be
causing the pain. Following are the main culprits:
Have your bike fit for you. Even if you had the bike fit at a
reputable bike shop it is not unusual to have to return to the shop
for more adjustments. Let the shop know exactly what type of pain
you are experiencing. Bike shops are not all the same and have
differing expertise when it comes to bike fit. If you feel that you
are not getting the right fit at one shop ask around and find out which
shops are known for their bike fits.
For more info on bike fit go to the Bike
Bike Technique / Positioning
A good bike position is just like a good sitting or standing position
- don't slouch! When you are on your bike straighten that back; pull
back those shoulders and straighten your neck. Also focus on tilting your
pelvis forward (rather than bending at the waist) to reach the handlebars.
Pace your training
If you are a new rider you may be overdoing it in the early
season. Make note of what kind of time/distance are you riding
before you have pain? It takes your body takes time to settle into a
training regimen. If you've pushed yourself a little too far, too
soon, you may start experiencing lower back pain. Try to gradually
increase your training regimen and listen to your body if it says you're
pushing too hard
Are you stretching before and after riding? Stretching should be a
part of your training regimen. Be sure to stretch all the hip muscles,
front, back and sides, as well as quads - thigh and inner thigh thigh,
calf muscles, chest and neck. Get into the habit of doing added
stretches at pit stops. The Hamstrings (back of the legs) get
really tight from riding and they have to be stretched out to their normal
length. If your Hamstrings tighten up they pull on the lower back
causing back pain. Remember to hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds and
Abdominals & Back Strength
How is your back strength? Your legs do perform most of the work
when cycling but they are dependent on your trunk muscles for
stabilization and transmission of power. Add back strengthening exercises
to your training program and don't forget abdominal work - your abs are
essentially the front of your back. As a cyclist, you don't need a “six pack”',
but you do need strong abs. Here are a few exercises that will
strengthen your back and abs. These
muscles should be developed throughout training. 2-3 sessions per week using these exercises will maintain trunk strength.
- Crunch time
The crunch works the abdominal muscles. While lying on your back on a carpeted floor or soft mat, hold your hands at the back of your head. Half of your hands should be on the base of your skull and the other half should be on the upper part of your
neck but do not use your hands to help you perform the crunch. Your legs should be bent so that your feet are on the floor and approximately 10-12 inches away from your butt.
The range of motion for this exercise is very small. Crunch in an upward and forward manner until your shoulder blades are off the floor. A variation of this can be done with the feet off of the floor.
If the crunch is too difficult, or you have not worked your trunk muscles for a while, keep your hands on the floor at your sides as you perform your crunches. This reduces the resistance your trunk muscles are acting against. As your trunk gets stronger, start doing crunches
with your hands on your neck.
Remember to keep the motion slow and controlled. Do not bend your neck as you crunch. To prevent over-flexing the neck, imagine softball under your chin.
The lower back can be strengthened by the Superman exercise.
While lying on the floor face down, extend your arms straight in front of you. Imagine your lower back is a
pivot and raise your upper body slightly while keeping the lower
body on the floor. The movement is continuous; there is no pause at the top. The
range of motion for this exercise is extremely small. This motion
is also slow and controlled so you recruit as many muscle fibers
as possible in the lower back.
- Take sides
The side bend is a useful exercise for strengthening the
obliques. While standing with your feet shoulder width apart, grasp a light
weight in one hand. Keeping your upper body rigid, slowly bend toward the side
holding the weight. You should feel the muscles on the opposite side of the body stretch and then contract as you return to the
This exercise is best done in front of a mirror so you can maintain
good form. Be careful not to drop the shoulder down as you bend to the side with the weight.
If you go to gym, have
one of the staff members show you which machines and weight exercises can help
strengthen your back and abs. If you are not into weights try to get into a
healthy back class or try Yoga as an alternative. Yoga does a lot to
increase back strength and flexibility. Know the type of yoga the teacher
is teaching and make sure you work at your level.
If all of this doesn't solve your problem, ask your physician for a
referral to a physical therapist who specializes in musculoskeletal
problems. It shouldn't take more than one-two sessions for you to
learn management strategies for your back.
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