Bike Tips: Your lower back

Ride your bike without a backache !

Have you ever had lower back discomfort while pedaling on your bike ?


Several factors influence the comfort of your back while riding. First, choosing the type of bike will have an influence on the curvature of your back when you are in riding position. If you are riding a hybrid bike (by definition with a straight and high handlebar), your back will be straighter than with a road bike.  The handlebars on this type of bike are curved and stand lower than on an hybrid bike, giving you a flexed and therefore more aerodynamic position. The lower the position of your hands on the handlebars with regards to your saddle height, the more mobility you need in your lower back to accommodate this position. To make it more comfortable, here are some modifications that can be useful:

  • Positioning Tip: Adjust your saddle with a neutral inclination or slightly forward tilt (without having the sensation of slipping off it). This position reduces the lumbar flexion necessary for a good aerodynamic position. Also make sure your saddle is at the right height. To achieve this, your leg should be straight or slightly bent when your heel is flat on the pedal.
  • Mechanical Advice: Equip yourself with a saddle of the right width. Ideally your saddle should be of an equal width or up to 20 mm wider than the width between your two ischial tuberosities (the “sit bones”). A good sitting position limits the movement of your pelvis to the sides and improves the stability of your back.
  • Technical Tip: Try to have as little swing as possible in your pelvis and body while pedaling. This may be improved through exercises to improve trunk and pelvis stability and coordination.

Even with an optimal fit, it may still be possible that you experience discomfort in your low back. At this time, there are several things your physiotherapist will need to assess to be able to support or correct your aerodynamic position, including the mobility and stability of your back.


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