Why Does Cycling Cause Back and Neck Pain?

Cycling Causes Back and Neck Pain

As a center for Beverly Hills spine surgery and restoration, we work with many athletes and active adults who experience some level of back or neck pain. Of these active adults, many are avid cyclists, or are individuals who enjoying going on a ride a couple times a month for light exercise.

Cycling can be a great way to stay fit because it doesn’t put much stress on the back like other aerobic activities such as running and jogging. It can also be good for people with certain back-related conditions like lumbar spinal stenosis due to the comfortable forward leaning position associated with riding. So, with all these great benefits, why does cycling sometimes cause back and neck pain?

  1. Lack of Conditioning of Back Muscles

    While cycling can be gentle on the back, it doesn’t really provide all that much conditioning of the back muscles. This can be a problem for individuals using cycling as their primary source of exercise.

  2. Added Strain on the Lower Back

    The posture required for cycling can place added strain on the lower back. This added strain may result in temporary pain following a ride or it can aggravate existing back conditions. Adjusting the seat may help with this problem.

  3. Neck and Upper Back Strain

    Different types of bars (especially aerodynamic bars) can also place unnecessary and extra strain on neck and upper back muscles and joints while cycling. This can be remedied by either using a different type of cycle or adjusting the handlebars.

  4. Rough Terrain and Steep Hills

    Climbing steep hills or going over bumpy terrains where sudden jolts are possible can strain back muscles or result in lower back pain from the impact. Switching to a stationary bike or sticking to primarily flat surfaces can remedy this situation.

Cyclists of any skill level can do certain exercises, with doctor approval, to strengthen back muscles. Maintaining proper form, making an effort to lift and lower the head while biking and using shock absorbing accessories are just a few other things that cyclists can do to minimize back and neck pain while still enjoying the many health benefits of cycling.

To learn more about your specific level of neck or back pain and to see if cycling could be the source of such pain, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and schedule an appointment with Medical Director Doctor Hyun Bae or one of his spinal specialists. Simply call 310-828-7757 – we’re always here to help.