Cycling and low back pain

One of the biggest issues for both road cyclists and mountain bikers is low back pain. This can be debilitating if not dealt with promptly and properly. Often times it’s not an issue, or as much of an issue, when riding on relatively flat terrain, or at lower intensities. But as a cyclist ramps up in those areas any problems are exacerbated.

There are two main causes for back pain in cyclsits: 1) Poor bike fit, and, 2) Muscular imbalance. I’ll leave bike fit up to the professionals who deal with that (such as Lorri Lown at  The second, muscular imbalance, is  what I’ll offer some thoughts on here.

In the cycling position, a cyclist is always bent forward at the hips. Bio-mechanically this requires more work from your hip flexor muscles (the Psoas especially), and doesn’t allow your hip extensor muscles (the Gluteus Maximus, aka ‘Butt’) to work as much. The flexors get shorter and tighter, the extensors get weaker. This puts a tremendous force imbalance across your low back that can have devastating effects. Couple this with working at a desk job where you’re sitting in a chair on your Gluteus Maximus for hours at a time, with your hips flexors in a short position and this only compounds the effects.

Bent forward at the hips wreaks havoc on the low back.

To be continued….