As a leader in advanced spine surgery in Beverly Hills, we work with athletes of all levels, from professionals to weekend warriors, struggling to find relief from back pain. While riding a bike is a wonderful way to get exercise, and it is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by nearly every member of the family, the posture maintained during long or frequent rides can often lead to back and neck pain. Being mindful of a few guidelines can help cyclists reap the benefits of riding without putting undue strain on the spinal column.
Strengthen the Core
Biking is a great cardiovascular activity, but it does little or nothing to strengthen the abdomen and back, and underused core muscles can lead to a poorly supported spinal column and subsequent back pain. People who cycle regularly can benefit from enhancing their routine with exercises that fortify the muscles that support the spine. Performing different variations of crunches and planks are a good start to reinforcing the core.
Ride the Right Bike
Many riders experience back pain because the equipment they are using is either too large or too small. People should be properly fitted to a bike by an experienced sales professional. Most specialty shops train their staff to find and fit appropriate bicycles for their customers.
Get Adequate Rest
One recent study found that as cyclists’ legs became tired, the riders were more prone to experiencing lower back pain. It was noted that leg fatigue led the athletes to rely more on their backs for support, putting their spinal columns and back muscles at risk for injury. Individuals with less training should avoid long routes, and reasonable rest periods should be taken between rides so that the muscles have time to recover and rebuild themselves.
Avoid Excessive Flexion
Cyclists who remain in an extremely bent posture while riding frequently experience lower back pain. The excessive flexion of the lumbar spine causes a reduction in activity in the multifidus muscles, which play a key role in stabilizing the spine. As the muscles weaken, they are prone to injury and pain, and the lumbar vertebrae are less able to remain at a natural curve. Adapting one’s riding style by decreasing the angle of flexion can help riders avoid lower back problems.
For cyclists of all levels, these tips can help provide relief or eliminate discomfort while riding. However, if your back pain isn’t responding to conservative treatment methods, it might be time to consider other options. To find out about other possible treatments, including minimally invasive spine surgery and spinal fusion alternatives, schedule a consultation with The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration by calling (310) 828-7757.