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Cycling and Lower Back Pain: Sheddon Physios Guide for Bike Riders in Oakville & Burlington (Updated)


Common Issues of Back Pain in Young Cyclists

Cycling and Lower Back Pain: Sheddon Physios Guide for Bike Riders in Oakville & Burlington (Updated)

In the vibrant cycling community of Burlington, Ontario, the thrill of pedalling through scenic routes can sometimes be accompanied by an unwelcome companion: lower back pain. While often overlooked, this issue is a common concern among young cyclists. In this article, we will delve into the various causes of lower back pain in riders and provide insights and solutions, emphasizing the role of proper bike fitting, core muscle stability, and riding style. For residents of Burlington seeking to overcome this challenge, Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics in Oakville and Burlington stands as a trusted ally on the path to recovery.

The Mechanical Nature of Lower Back Pain

For cyclists who experience lower back pain without any underlying medical conditions or a history of back issues, mechanical factors are often the primary culprits. In fact, the resounding answer to this concern can be summed up in three words: bike fit, bike fit, and bike fit.

From the perspective of our experienced team at Sheddon Physiotherapy, it’s evident that many riders in Burlington are cruising on bicycles that are not ideally sized for their bodies. Inadequate flexibility and a lack of core strength further exacerbate the problem. To embark on a journey towards pain-free cycling, investing time in ensuring that your bike is properly fitted to your physique is paramount. Additionally, if back pain persists, it may be a sign of anatomical factors such as leg length discrepancies or spinal misalignments, making consultation with a therapist a wise decision.

The Influence of Posture on Spinal Health

The posture adopted by cyclists, whether on or off the bike, plays a significant role in spinal health. In the daily routines of many young cyclists in Burlington, including working at desks or dining at tables, the tendency to hunch forward is common and can contribute to poor spinal health. This issue often stems from both poor posture and previous injuries. When one side of the body is favoured due to injury or posture issues, it places excessive strain on the lower back, leading to an imbalance in the spine.

Moreover, lack of flexibility, particularly tight hamstrings, is another contributing factor to lower back pain. In addition, leg length discrepancies (LLD) are prevalent, with most individuals having a difference of three to six millimetres between their legs. While authorities on bike fit typically address LLDs exceeding six millimetres, it’s essential to seek guidance from a reputable source with experience in managing LLDs. Overcorrection can inadvertently lead to knee pain, which could sideline your cycling adventures.

Riding Style Matters

The way you ride can significantly impact lower back pain. Cyclists who consistently use larger gears, especially during climbs, may experience discomfort. The angle of your back concerning the bike can either increase or alleviate the strain on your lower back.

To illustrate this, imagine lifting a 25-pound object with your back flexed at a 90-degree angle (similar to the time trial position); it would require 140 pounds of force. However, if you flex your back at a 45-degree angle (about halfway), the force decreases to 120 pounds. Consider modifying your riding position by occasionally standing up and changing the angle of your back, particularly during extended rides or climbs.

Core Strength: The Foundation of a Pain-Free Ride

Core strength is undeniably crucial in preventing lower back pain. Any effective back rehabilitation program should incorporate exercises that target core stability. Beyond just the visible abdominal and back muscles, core strength encompasses a multitude of muscles, both large and small, working together to provide stability. Burlington residents can explore options like Pilates or specific forms of yoga to enhance their core strength through dedicated training.

Offseason Strategies: Cycling Toward Better Health

Cyclists, use the offseason as an opportunity to prioritize your overall health. By doing so, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries, enhance your overall fitness, and pave the way for a successful, injury-free cycling season. Here are some of our key strategies to guide you during this crucial period:

  1. Strength Training: Incorporate strength training exercises, particularly targeting the core, back, and leg muscles. This helps improve stability and support for your spine and joints.
  2. Flexibility and Mobility: Maintain or improve your flexibility with regular stretching and mobility exercises, especially for the hips, hamstrings, and lower back.
  3. Cross-Training: Engage in alternative activities such as strength training to work on different muscle groups and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
  4. Injury Rehabilitation: If you have any existing injuries or discomfort, use the offseason to focus on rehabilitation and recovery. Consult with a physical therapist if necessary.
  5. Set Goals: Use the offseason to set clear, achievable goals for the next cycling season, such as improving your endurance, power, or technique.
  6. Monitoring Progress: Keep a training journal or use fitness apps to track your progress and maintain motivation throughout the winter months.

By investing in your off-road fitness, you’ll be better prepared for the next cycling season, reducing the risk of injuries and ensuring a healthier, pain-free ride.

Conclusion: The Keys to Pain-Free Cycling in Oakville and Burlington

In summary, addressing lower back pain among cyclists in Oakville and Burlington revolves around three pivotal factors: proper bike fit, core muscle stability, and riding style. Recognizing the importance of these elements is the first step toward a more comfortable and enjoyable cycling experience.

For Oakville and Burlington residents seeking assistance in improving their strength and flexibility, Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics are here to help. Our experienced team can tailor rehabilitation programs to meet your specific needs, ensuring a smoother ride on the road to recovery.

Cycling comfort and spinal health are within reach for Burlington residents. With the right guidance and dedication, you can enjoy your rides to the fullest, savouring the beauty of Burlington’s picturesque routes without the hindrance of lower back pain. To learn more about how Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic can help you, please contact us at 905-332-1070.

For more info, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics in Oakville at 905-849-4576 and Burlington at 905-332-1070.

In Oakville, we are located less than 10 min from Sheridan College Oakville and 4 min East from Oakville & Milton Humane Society.

The Burlington physio clinic is located only 8 min north-east of LaSalle Park and 10 min north of Burlington Golf & Country Club, on Plains Rd East.

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