Use These Tips to Prevent Back Pain From Cycling

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on July 25, 2012

Follow These Tips & Avoid Cycling Health Risks

Have your bike professionally fitted to avoid neck & lower back pain from cycling.The Tour de France just finished with an exciting ending as Bradley Wiggins is the first British rider to win the tour. Cycling has become a favorite activity across the globe. It transcends ages and skill levels as well as provides the rider with an incredible workout not leaving them sore the next day. Cycling is easy on your joints and provides a great cardiovascular workout for your heart. People with osteoarthritis, joint pain, and even hip and knee replacements are able to cycle and keep a good pace with other cyclists. Additionally, cycling builds muscles in your legs, quads, hips and core which result in increased spinal stabilization. On top of all of the health benefits, cycling is fun!

As you age, it is important to find activities that you can participate in without feeling pain that can improve your overall quality of life by increasing the capacity of your heart. There are many cycling tours and events to challenge yourself and keep you motivated.

A Professionally Fitted Bike Will Reduce Cycling Health Risks

It is important to purchase a bike that is professionally fitted in order to prevent neck and back pain. A few tips for setting up your bike include the following:

  • Seat height should be set to a 25 degree knee angle
  • Seat level should be parallel to the ground
  • Your shoulder should be at slightly less than 90 degree angle with an easy bend at the elbows in order to comfortably reach to the handlebars
  • Your hip angle should be neutral to the above positions thereby allowing you to keep the natural curve in your low back (lordosis).

Ride on! Biking is a great activity which will give you an excellent workout while allowing you to enjoy the fresh air.  Just make sure you follow the tips mentioned here to prevent back pain from cycling.

3 thoughts on “Use These Tips to Prevent Back Pain From Cycling

  1. I don’t agree with these recommended settings. I did triathlons for a few years and toured through parts of Canada. The down tube on a bike frame is angled so seats are positioned too far back of the perpendicular position they should be in directly over the pedals for for maximum torque. On most bikes you need to reverse the seat clamp on the stem and bring the seat as far forward as possible.
    Secondly, the seat should not be parallel to the ground since this puts pressure on the prostrate even with a grooved seat. This is critical because constant irritation of the prostrate will increase your chances of prostrate cancer. Tilt the seat forward about 5-10 degrees. You will find there will be an adjustment period where your shoulders will fatigue because this distributes the weight over the handlebars. If this persists raise your handlebars, don’t go back to putting all your weight on the seat.

    • Our recommended prescription for bike fitting is based on recreational riding and not triathlon specific bikes.

      A forward tilt on the saddle transfers your weight through onto your hands and shoulders causing hand numbness and neck pain. A backwards tilt on the saddle increases the flexion at the lumbar spine and the pressure on the groin; therefore a level perpendicular saddle is key to preventing pain.

      Furthermore, there is no scientific link between cycling and prostate cancer. Cycling is a form of exercise which will reduce your risk of cancer along with eating a well-balanced diet.

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