Dealing with Lower Back Pain via Cycling

cycling, cycling injuries, cycling back pain,

Can you see an opening? by Jeffrey Davis via flickr. Licensed under creative commons.

Whether you cycle for fun, exercise, or competitively, the problem of lower back pain can manifest itself and make you avoid your favourite sport. Cycling provides many benefits for those who like to ‘saddle up’, but back problems can arise from a number of issues.

Understanding how to avoid lower back pain as much as possible. As well as how to deal with it effectively will help you to get the most out of cycling while remaining pain free. Keep in mind, too, that younger riders can be just as subject to this pain as older ones. No one is immune from problems with the lower back.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain 

Obviously pain in the region of the lower back is a definite signal that something is going wrong, but problems in this area can also manifest themselves in a number of other ways. The damage can be confined to the muscles, but it can also involve the spine and the sciatic nerve.

  • The lower back area can actually be sensitive and tender when you touch it.
  • Pain can radiate around through the groin and even to the thigh (a good hint that the trouble originates in the lower back will be that there is no pain below the knee).
  • Severe spasms in the muscles of the lower back can occur.
  • The pain may actually be so bad that you are unable to stand or walk normally, let alone ride your bicycle.
  • Weakness in the legs, along with pain, could indicate that the sciatic nerve is involved.

The Right Bicycle

Not surprisingly, the cause of lower back pain for many bicyclists will turn out to be the bicycle itself. When it comes to choosing a bicycle, one size does not fit all. Regardless of why you are purchasing a bicycle, whether for fun or competition, it’s very important to get one that fits your body correctly. The best option is to have the professionals at a bike shop help you choose a bike that will work best for you.

  • Your height will determine the size of the bicycle you will be using.
  • The configuration of the seat plays a large role in how your body sits and helps determine your posture while riding. Bad posture increases the chance of lower back pain.
  • Handlebars come in different configurations such as drop bars for those who are interested in racing and flat or riser bars for ‘regular’ or cross-country riding.

If you ride a bicycle that is not suitable for your body and which causes incorrect posture, you could be putting yourself at risk for developing pain in your lower back.

How Cycling Can Strain Your Lower Back

In addition to making sure that your bike is a good fit for your body, there are some other factors to consider as regards lower back pain.

  • Core body strength is critical when cycling. In order to prepare your body for pain-free cycling, you should exercise regularly before getting seriously involved in cycling to build up your back and abdominal muscles.
  • As with most sports and exercise, it’s wise to start slowly and build up your strength gradually. This gives your muscles time to adjust to the new routine and lessens the chance that you will strain your back.
  • Climbing can result in pushing the bike’s gears too hard and subsequently causing you to have a posture that will cause unneeded strain on your lower back.

Treating Lower Back Pain

 When you begin to experience pain in your lower back, pain that does not respond well to rest and the application of ice and/or heat, the first thing to do is to visit your healthcare provider. The problem could simply be muscle strain, but the spine itself should also be checked for damage, such as a ruptured disc.

Fortunately, it has been shown that massage therapy is effective in dealing with the lower back pain that many cyclists experience. Your massage therapist will determine which technique to employ to provide the maximum benefit and relief, and might use remedial massage or deep tissue massage to help restore your back’s health. Massage will help not only to relax tight and knotted muscles, but also brings more blood supply to the injured area, accelerating the healing process.

Massage therapy provides proven, positive results for those suffering from lower back pain, and will help to get you back on the road again.