A lot of cyclists complain of back pain, and when you think about it there is a good reason why. Low back pain is a chronic problem for a lot of riders, and often after getting off the bike there is a feeling of stiffness and an inability to stand up straight. Lower back pain during and after cycling is common, partly unavoidable, however not totally necessary.
In general there are a lot of causes of back pain, and are often related to the neuromuscular system. These are the nerves, muscles, bones and the joints. Considering the position you are in when cycling, there is no real surprise that back pain is a common complaint.
Cycling means you are in a position that stresses your lower back. Bent over and in severe flexion will caused prolonged stress on the muscles of the lower back. Although there are many different cases and types of back pain, most of the time it comes down to being in this position for a long period of time. Combine this with the fact that most people are sitting hunched over a desk for most of the day only to head out to do their daily exercise and sit once again hunched over in the bike. A double hit!
Another thing that we have talked a lot about on Laurens Fitness is the fact that the hip flexors can become over active and tight. When you are cycling these muscles have to work whilst being in a shortened state. Consider for a moment that your lower back pain from cycling may be coming from the fact you are in a seated position, your hip flexors in a shortened position, and they become very tight. Then, once you stand up and get off the bike, your hip flexors will be pulling on your lower back, and creating extra pressure even off the bike. Your hips play a vital part in back pain.
Ensure when you are off the bike you are doing as much stretching of the hips and hip flexor muscles as possible. try not to stretch your lower back, because it is basically in a stretched position the whole time, it doesn’t need more. Really long and hard hip flexor stretches will be very beneficial, as well as some deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy through the hip area. Here is a video explaining how to stretch your hip flexors.
Ensure that you have strong lower back muscles, and try to do a lot of extension work whilst you are off the bike.
Here are a list of must do stretches for people with back pain whilst cycling:
- Psoas Stretch
- Glute Stretch
- Piriformis Stretch
DO NOT stretch the lower back…you will simply be doing exactly what you do all day on the bike. The tightness you feel is a result of being overstretched and overactive. Stretch your hips and you will see a difference.
Make sure that you do some deep tissue work on these areas too, check out tennis ball therapy for lower body for a way that you can do it at home by yourself!
I’m not a cyclist, nor a specialist in this area, so I can’t advise you on proper technique. However, simply looking at the position you are in, I can tell you that you need to stretch your hips a lot…and you will find that you reduce your lower back pain cycling significantly.