With the Tour de Yorkshire in full swing and the weather improving, many of us fair weather cyclists are inspired to take to the saddle. And while it’s logical to suppose our legs take the brunt of the effort, it’s actually more likely that the strain will be felt from over-exerting your lower back. Even if you’ve been diligently cycling throughout the last few months, injury can still be caused by over-use.
Despite cycling being relatively low impact, there are aspects to look out for in order to keep your back protected.
- Your bike. Set it up correctly so the saddle and handlebars allow you to ride comfortably for what could be prolonged periods.
- Muscle fatigue. The more pedalling you do, the more tired your hamstrings and calves become and that leads to a change in how you move your muscles which in turn impacts on the lower back given the position cyclists ride in.
- Bending forward– especially if you use the drop handlebars – affects the extensor muscles which maintain spinal stability and posture
The answer? Keep your back strong. You can achieve this by regular targeted exercises like those detailed below (but only when your back’s stable enough to accomplish them efficiently and without causing damage!)
- Squats: Stand upright, aligning hips, ankles and shoulders. Rock back on your heels with your knees relaxed while tilting your hips back and keeping your chest straight. Stretch out your arms with your fingers touching and reach up over your head, pushing your hips back. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat, 2-3 times.
- Lunges: Stand with your legs together and step forward with one leg, keeping your hips aligned. Clasp your hands together in front of you and reach as far forward as you can, pushing your forward heel into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on each leg, 2-3 times.
- …and the plank! Lie on the floor and raise yourself onto your elbows and toes, with your feet in line with your hips. Make sure your hips aren’t dropping or raising up. Keep your head in the same line, with your face forward towards the floor. Hold for a minute.
While it’s common to blame your bike for pain after a cycle ride, don’t go rushing to buy a new one. It’s your back’s impaired control due to the act of cycling itself that can cause the problem. Give it the best starting position by making sure it’s in optimum condition.
Come and see us before you get on your bike and embark on the Tour de New Forest!