If you have spent any amount of time hunched over a bike, you have experienced back pain. It’s just part of the game. And while it does happen, there are things that you can do to minimize your pain – and lessen the chances of it emerging into something that keeps you off the bike. Below are the best exercises to help you combat cycling-related back pain.
A recent study found that stretching is just as effective as yoga at reducing back pain. Stretching of any kind, whether static (you hold the pose) or dynamic (you move through a complete range of motion), can help improve flexibility and decrease back-pain risk and symptoms.
Half Lunge: Stand with feet staggered, left leg in front. Bend front knee about 90 degrees and lower back knee a few inches from floor. Press right hip forward, feeling a stretch along front of hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Two recently published studies found that people who practiced yoga had less pain and more mobility than those who simply followed a self-care book on back-pain relief. Yoga combines stretching with strength and balance poses, which help shore up weak muscles and release tight ones. It’s also a stress reliever; tension can lead to a tight back.
Child’s Pose: Sit on heels, knees hip-distance apart. Exhale and lower torso between thighs. Reach arms forward. Hold for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Physical therapists have long advocated doing traditional resistance training (using body weight only, bands, dumbbells, or machines) to improve strength and regain function, especially for everyday activities. It stabilizes and strengthens your entire body. Back pain can occur when muscles are not prepared for a certain movement, whether that’s lifting a heavy box or carrying a child – or even from cycling.
Body Squat: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Bend knees, shifting hips back as if sitting into a chair, and lift arms. Hold for 1 count; return to start. Do 10 to 15 reps.
A small Canadian study found that patients with nonspecific lower-back pain who did a Pilates workout for 4½ hours a week reported significantly less pain and disability 1 year after starting the program than those who simply followed a doctor’s care. Pilates strengthens the core muscles that support the spine, decreasing your risk of injury. It also boosts flexibility, making it easier to move without pain.
Pelvic Tilt: Lie face up on floor, knees bent, ankles under knees. Exhaling, gently tilt hips up slightly, keeping butt on floor and flattening spine. Hold for a few seconds, then inhale and return to neutral (starting) position. Do 5 to 10 reps.