Understanding back painBicycling is a type of aerobic exercise that can help with overall health. Done regularly it can improve the heart and lungs’ performance. Other areas of the body like the spine along with the musculoskeletal system, also benefit. For some, it is an even better form of exercise than jogging or aerobics, as it can be less jolting on the body and spine. Back pain during cycling is rare except when individuals try to push the intensity level beyond their normal workout. If there is back pain from an unknown cause it should be looked into by a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor before beginning a regular bicycling regimen. There are certain spinal conditions where bicycling can benefit. Individuals that bike ride with conditions like degenerative disc disease and lumbar spinal stenosis can experience relief in the back and legs, as it’s an exercise in which flexes the back. But there are spinal instability conditions like spondylolisthesis, that create forward flexion and can worsen back and leg pain. Therefore it is essential to attain a diagnosis before committing to regular bicycling.
Talk to a DoctorBefore starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor to find out if you are healthy enough for this type of therapeutic workout. Those with present back pain issues also need to be cleared by their doctors. But more than likely if they are already following a treatment plan, their doctor would have them doing some form of stretching/exercise as part of their plan, and they just need to find out if riding a bicycle is OK. Once cleared, even with chronic mild back pain an individual can initiate bicycling into their regimen.
Reasonable workoutIn addition to safety basics individuals need to:
- Wear a helmet
- Wear highly-visible clothing
- Get their bike serviced for optimal performance
- Add reflectors
- Add lighting
- Have a workout/training plan
Pay attention to form/mechanicsWhen it comes to biking technique, there is no particular form that is ideal or the best. Always try to be in a position where the spine is comfortable. This type of bicycling is low-impact and should be fluid in motion. Poor posture, jerking motions of the spine, neck, or not using the proper equipment can cause poor mechanics and increase the risk of injury.
Indoor bicyclingCycling indoors could be safer for individuals that do not have access to safe bicycling areas or are older. Options include spin class or stationary bike. Both are set in a controlled environment with accidents being a rare occurrence. Outdoor biking happens on the road, bike path, sidewalk, or terrain where there is potential for an accident. With the machine or class, individuals can:
- Choose the workout type
- Fitness level
- Workout duration
- Heart rate
- Promotes cardiorespiratory health
- Is low impact
- Promotes blood flow
- Strengthens the body’s core
- Increases range of motion to the joints
- Improves spinal health