At The Spine & Joint Centre, our chiropractic clinic in Ealing, our chiropractors often recommend cycling to patients. We do so because cycling is a low impact form of exercise which provides many incredible health benefits.
Included amongst those benefits are stronger muscles and bones, better joint mobility, improved posture, and decreased body fat levels.
Unfortunately, it can be hard for patients to start cycling if they experience intermittent back pain. Their pain may make it difficult to get on a bike or they may find that riding exacerbates their pain.
To help you enjoy the benefits of cycling, this guide will share several tips which make it easier to ride with back pain. If you have any questions, please contact our chiropractic clinic in Ealing by calling 020 8900 9004.
Perform Stretches Before Riding
Warming up prepares your body for physical activity by boosting cardiovascular activity, which increases blood flow to the muscles. It also elevates your body’s core temperature, which loosens the body’s joints and improves their flexibility.
Stretching is a particularly useful way to warm up if you suffer from back pain, as you can target the parts of the body that often cause pain. This great article from Livestrong shares 10 stretches which will prepare your body for biking. You can also visit a chiropractor at our chiropractic clinic in Ealing to learn a few stretches which reduce the likelihood of back pain occurring.
Use The Right Bike
The type of bike you ride will determine your riding position. So, if you purchase a road bike which is designed for racing, it may have a frame geometry which forces the rider into an aggressive, aerodynamic position.
While this is great for riding at high speeds, it may be painful if you have lower back issues. You might be better off choosing a bike which provides a relaxed riding position that is less taxing on the back.
The size of your bike is also an important factor. Many of the keen cyclists who visit our chiropractors in Ealing with lower back issues have a bike that is either too large or too small. To ensure you buy a bike that is the appropriate size, talk to an experienced bike shop owner.
Have a Bike Fit Performed
A bike fit is the process of adjusting a bike so it is ideally setup for your body. It makes riding your bike more comfortable and efficient. Some of the components which may be adjusted during a bike fit include the handlebars, seat, and pedals. Once your bike has been adjusted, you will be less likely to strain any joints or muscles while riding, which should protect your back from injury.
Improve Your Core Strength
Your core muscles help you maintain your balance while sitting on a bike and are engaged whenever you change direction. There is some evidence to suggest that having a strong core will also protect your back from injury.
Research published in 2015 in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation suggests that bikers with less-developed lumbar multifidus spinae and transverse abdominals had less lower back endurance. In other words, a strong core can give your back the strength it needs to avoid injury.
There are many ways to strengthen your core muscles. Check out this great article from Medical News Today or speak with our chiropractor in Ealing to learn more.
Gradually Increase Your Time On The Bike
Cycling is an exciting pastime which can be very addictive. However, if you suffer from back pain, you should limit the duration of your rides until your back can tolerate long journeys. Slowly increase the duration of your workouts, adding 5 or 10 minutes to the length of your ride each week. If you are unsure about how long you can safely ride, talk to a doctor or chiropractor.
Be Mindful Of Your Riding Posture
Riding posture refers to how you position your body while on a bike. Here are a few tips for maintaining good riding posture:
- Head forward
Keep your neck relaxed and head looking forward.
- Relaxed shoulders
Avoid tensing the shoulders or pulling them up towards your ears. Instead, keep them relaxed and in a natural position. Having your shoulders relaxed will make it easier to turn your head to check for traffic.
- Bent elbows
Your elbows should also remain relaxed. Keep them partially bent, so they can absorb shocks from potholes or bumps on the road more easily. Keep your elbows tucked in, instead of out to the sides.
- Straight wrists
Keep a straight line from the wrists through to the forearms. Avoid bending your wrists excessively, as it can cause strain.
- Keep a neutral spine
A neutral spine maintains its natural S-curve. Avoid jutting out any part of your spine as it may become strained, leading to back pain. While in this position, your back muscles should be relaxed and there with a straight line between the hips and shoulders.
- Core engaged
Having your core muscles engaged will help you avoid a slouched position, which may place excessive load on your back and lead to back pain.
- Knee over pedal
Avoid injuries to your knees or ankles by keeping them in a straight line with the pedal.
Cycling is a wonderful form of exercise. If you are suffering from back pain or discomfort, our chiropractors at The Spine & Joint Centre are here to help you. To book an appointment with one of our team call our clinic on 020 8900 9004.