One thing about cycling is that apart from the odd scrap with the asphalt from a fall or crash, it is a relatively injury free sport. However one type of injury that is dominant is the lower back pain. Now the sheer fact that cycling exerts force on the lower and upper part of the body, one might think leg and arm muscle injuries would be common but not so. The lower handlebars and higher saddle are necessary to get the aerodynamics right when a cyclist wants more speed but this is the primary cause of lower back pain in riders. Today I want to talk about the myths and facts of back injuries in cycling. Believe it or not back injuries mostly happen at night when you sleep. Poor sleeping positions particularly those who sleep on their stomachs. By doing so you force the spine to curve for hours on end. So it is not entirely the bike to blame.
With that said , improving standing posture can also help and I included below the correct way to stand and sit so as not to put a strain on the lower part of the back. It is important for riders to improve the strength of the back by doing a variety of exercises. These include the Woodpecker exercise which works out the lower back , arms and hamstrings in one fell swoop as shown below
Another simple exercise I like to do to help with the lower back is the rotational stretches. You lie on your back, shoulders on the mat with bent knees. You roll both knees to the one side, left to right right to left. Hold the position for 10 seconds before moving to either side.
Now we can focus on the bike. How do you structure your bike so as to minimize chances of a long term lower back problem? One simple test is to position the handlebars in such a manner as to not stretch to reach them. They should be positioned near to your abdomen such that your arms are bent. The back should be upright at an angle more than 45 degrees. A test for the saddle is that it should be positioned in such a manner that when the pedal is at the bottom, the knee should have a slight bend not a 45 degree angle bend or less. Some riders prefer to have a saddle which is slightly bent forward to prevent saddle sores. Well that comes at a price , the price is lower back pain. You may want to have a straight horizontal saddle whilst making sure it is fixed in place and doesn’t shake about.