Cycling Without Back Pain
by Scott Swanson DC CCEP
As many as 60% of recreational bicyclists consult medical professionals for neck and lower back pain treatment. Want to be one of the 40% who don't? Below are a few easy tips to keep you pain free.
First, bike choice and fit is important — the number one thing you can do right is to buy a bike that properly fits you. Improper bike fit, technique, or training patterns may cause or exacerbate injuries, and can lead to various dysfunctions, impaired performance, and pain. If you plan on riding 5 days per week, are competing in the Amgen tour, stand 5 foot 2 inches tall and you buy a bike off craiglist made for someone 5'9" you are going to have problems.
Prevent back pain and biking injuries:
- Select the best bike for your purpose. Causual bike riders should consider a mountain bike with higher, straight handle bars (to allow more upright posture) and bigger tires (for more shock absorption) versus a racing-style bike.
- Adjust the bike properly to fit your body. Use the assistance of an experienced professional at a bike shop if possible.
- Use proper form when biking. Be sure to distribute weight to your arms and keep your chest up; shift positions periodically, gently lifting and lowering the head to loosen your neck.
- Remember to push and pull with the legs while biking. The pulling component should be equally as important as the pushing portion.
- Use shock absorbing bike accessories including seats and seat covers, handlebar covers, gloves, and shock absorbers on the wheels (front shocks or full suspension shocks depending on the type of riding and the terrain).
Be sure to do some back strengthening exercises in conjunction with your biking routine to provide strength and conditioning for your back. Chiropractors or sports medicine providers can easily teach common back and neck stretches and core-strengthening exercises.
If you experience prolonged neck, lower back pain or numbness or radiating pain into your arms or legs, consult a health professional. If you are interested in a consultation or have a question I can be reached at (415) 566-7134, drscottswanson at gmail.com, www.parksidechiro.com.