A common complaint from a cyclist is their back and neck pain. Since cycling is an activity that requires you to maintain a position where your back is flexed for long periods of time and puts strain on the back and neck it’s not a surprise.
If riding a bike is causing you neck and back pain, consider it a warning sign that the position you ride in or the bike itself is creating the pain. There is good news, with a few adjustments to your form and bike the problem can be corrected.
Whether you enjoy a casual bike ride or have dream of cycling in the Tour de France, there are steps you can take and avoid a stiff and sore back and back when cycling. Here are tips from Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Solomon Kamson.
Sitting in an awkward position while cycling for a long period of time is the main cause for back and neck muscle soreness and stiffness.
If you experience back and neck pain, it’s commonly due to being improperly positioned on your bike. With most road bikes, your head is tipped upward, which aggravates the neck, creates pinched nerves and can lead to spinal stenosis.
It’s important to check your form.
- Elongate your torso
- Lift your chest slightly while cycling
- Tighten your stomach towards your lower back
- Stretch your neck during your ride
- Draw your shoulder blades down
Be sure you have a helmet that is fitted properly. A helmet that isn’t adjusted can cause discomfort and stiffness to your neck.
The Right Bike Fit
Like stated above about having the properly fitted helmet, you also need a properly fitted bike. This helps with avoiding injuries in the long run and makes you a more efficient and better cyclist.
When purchasing a new bike, the fit is important. Be sure you try as many bikes as possible and purchase one that you feel most comfortable with. After purchasing, you will want to get the handlebar height, seat height, and pedal alignment adjusted to fit your body.
If you have a bike you have been riding for years, it’s important to have it adjusted if you feel any discomfort after cycling. Most bike shops will make small adjustments to ensure the bike is fitted for your body and help out your cycling.
Having tight hamstrings is common for cyclists because of the position. However, what you may not know is that tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain. When hamstrings are tight, they can pull down on your pelvis which causes a posterior pelvic tilt and results in an increased flexion on the lumbar vertebrae.
Before jumping on and off your bike to ride, you will want to make a habit of stretching your hamstrings. You will also stretch better when you are warmed up, so take the time to stop and stretch your hamstrings during your ride.
There are other places that can also lead to lower back pain, like your quadriceps, hip flexors and piriformis, so be sure you take to also stretch these muscles. Including stretching as part of your routine will increase your flexibility and help prevent neck and back pain.
A Strong Core
When you are pedaling, your core stabilizes your pelvis, which provides a foundation for your legs to push against. With a stronger core, the faster you will be able to cycle. On the other hand, if your core is weak, you will find your lower back compensating which leads to lower back pain and injury.
You can rely less on your lower back by strengthening your core. This also makes it more tolerable on a bike for long miles and hours.
If you feel soreness after a bike ride, you can treat your neck and back with ice or heat. The areas that feel swollen or warm are best treated with ice.
Be sure that you do a complete stretching routine after your cycling each and every time. A good neck stretch is touching your ear to each shoulder and chin to your chest slowly as you feel the muscles loosen up.
If you continue to feel neck and back pain after making these adjustments and there isn’t any improvement after a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
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