Cycling Health Benefits
The Tour de France has inspired millions of bicycle riders of all ages and from around the world to get fit and have fun through cycling. Whether you are a novice bike rider or an experienced cyclist, it will not take you long to discover the numerous health benefits associated with bicycling. Likewise, learning how to cycle safely and how to prevent back pain and injury while you ride will go a long way in enhancing your cycling experience.
Since riding a bike is easy on the joints, it is one of the easiest forms of exercising. It provides a terrific cardiovascular workout for your heart, builds muscles in your legs, quads, hips and core, and ultimately increases spinal stabilization. In fact, even people suffering from conditions such as osteoarthritis, joint pain, and hip and knee replacements are able to cycle and keep pace with other cyclists. Finally, riding a bike is simply good old-fashioned fun and a great way to spend some quality time outdoors or enjoy the company of fellow cyclists.
Causes of Cycling and Back Pain
However, the sport of bicycling has also been associated with upper and lower back pain. According to sports doctors, the three primary causes contributing to cycling back pain are: bike fit (riding a bike which is not properly fit to your body); core muscle strength (which you can improve through Pilates and certain types of yoga, as well as through back-strengthening exercises); back post or riding style (the degree to which you are hunched over while cycling).
Additional causes for bike riding back pain include overly taut hamstrings, poor posture on and off your bike, lack of flexibility, and cycling on rough terrain (which can jar and compress the spine, causing back pain). Finally, musculoskeletal conditions such as misalignment of your spine or leg length disappointments can also give rise to back pain during cycling.
Expert Tips on How to Prevent Cycling Back Pain
- Have an experienced professional (ie from your local bike store) help adjust your bicycle to properly fit your body
- For better back posture while cycling, keep your chest up, distributing weight to your arms; occasional shift positions and gently lower and lift your head to loose the neck muscles
- Be sure to both push and pull with your legs while cycling
- Invest in bike accessories such as shock-absorbing seats, shock-absorbing seat and handlebar covers, shock absorbers on the wheels, and gloves
- Combine back-strengthening exercises and yoga with your cycling routine to prevent injury and to provide the ultimate workout