Cycling and Back Pain


Cycling is a great way to get out and get some exercise. Unfortunately for many avid cyclists, back pain and mountain biking go hand in hand. Some cyclists experience either constant or sporadic back pain while cycling. However, there is no reason for you to endure chronic back pain while riding and, what’s more, riding for extended periods of time with back pain could ultimately result in more serious injury. Some trainers might tell you “no pain, no gain” but this is not the kind of pain that they’re talking about.

One of the most common causes of back pain while mountain biking is a badly fitted bike. This leads to bad biking posture and, ultimately, back pain. When you first get on your bike, do you experience any mild irritations? If, say, the handlebars feel like a little bit of a stretch (but you can ignore it!) when you first get on, you’ll end up putting an unnecessary amount of pressure on your upper arms and shoulders after you’ve been cycling for a good hour. It can’t be overstressed that both short distance and long distance mountain bikers need to take the time to properly adjust their bikes in order to avoid back pain or possible injuries.

When you first get on your bike, check for hyperextension. If the frame is too large and you find yourself straining your neck and arms at any time during a few test pedals, you could end up experiencing back pain further down the line. Drop handle bars are another common cause of hyperextension since they put more weight on a rider’s arms and shoulders.

One quick fix for cycling back pain is to raise or lower the handlebars. Tweak the handlebar height until you feel no need to stretch (hyperextend) your neck or shoulders at any point while riding. Some people recommend tilting the seat slightly forward, giving the cyclist more support and a better trajectory when beginning the cycling motion.

Another possible cause for back pain while mountain biking is stress. Complaints of cycling neck and back pain are all more common at the start of any given cycling season when riders are pushing themselves for the first time in a long time. If you haven’t spent any time in the saddle for a couple months, you’ll probably find that you experience lower back pain, especially after you try to be ambitious and really push yourself. Trainers recommend only increasing mileage and ride length approximately 10% per week in order to ease into a cycling routine if you haven’t been on a mountain bike for two months or more.

Here are some ideas to help lower your blood cholesterol:

1. Keep your saturated fat intake low. Saturated fat is found in all animal foods, especially fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, coconut or palm oils, and "partially hydrogenated" oils

2. Use unsaturated fats in small amounts. These fats include mono unsaturated fats (ca nola and Olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower, sunflower, corn oils and many margarines).

3. Limit dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams daily. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods and dairy products and is especially high in egg yolks and organ meats like liver. Refer to the food label to find the amount of cholesterol per serving.

4. Cook with flavor - not fat. Leave out the fat by trimming visible fat from meat and remove skin from poultry. Steam, microwave, poach or broil foods without butter or sauces. Saute foods in non stick cook ware, or use a light coating of vegetable oil spray. Chill soups and stews and then remove the fat that congeals on top.

Stock up on flavorful spices and seasonings such as fresh herbs, garlic, fresh ginger, chilies, lime or lemon juice, mustard and flavored vinegars. Poach fish or skinless poultry in broth, dry wine or herbs. Try salsa to spice up lean fish, chicken or vegetables. Use herbs or butter-flavored granules on pasta or vegetables instead of butter or rich sauces.

5. Try low-fat recipe make overs. Use nonfat yogurt or fat-free mayonnaise to make salad dressings and sauces. Substitute two egg whites for a whole egg. Use ground turkey breast instead of high-fat ground beef. Thicken soups and sauces with pureed vegetables or rice instead of cream. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches. Use non-fat plain yogurt on chicken before breading.

6. Get a boost from exercise. Becoming more physically active is one of the few things you can do the raise "good" HDL cholesterol levels. An active lifestyle also help to control your weight and gives you more energy. Try brisk walking, biking or swimming.

7. Control your weight. If you're overweight, even modest weight loss (as little as five pounds) helps to lower your blood cholesterol. To lose weight safely and keep it off, make long-term changes in your daily eating and exercise habits.

8. Take medications, if prescribed. Along with changes in diet and exercise, your doctor may prescribe medications to control your blood cholesterol. Be sure to continue with a low fat diet and exercise regularly.

9. Stop smoking. Quitting will boost your "good" HDL cholesterol and is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease.