Are Road Bikes Bad For Your Back?

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I still recall my old memories of the first time I hopped on the sleek design and speedy road bike, my father bought it for me, and I took it for a spin in my country yard.

The first experience of rushing off the wind in my face, the sensation of gliding effortlessly across the pavement, and the thrill of adrenaline shoot in my body at lightning speed were all unforgettable.

But as I rode some longer distance, I started to feel something weirdo in my lower back. Was it just my imagination, or was it something that was caused by road bikes? I decided to delve into deeper, and through riding for longer periods on my road bike and my research, I found that:

No, road bikes don’t affect your back or its posture nor it causes any pain. However, if your cycling technique is poor, and has incorrect size, then there is a chance that it can toll your back. Furthermore, if you ride road bikes for a time and do them excessively on the first day, so many professional cyclists report that they experience Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), which accounts for about one-quarter of all injuries.

There are more surprising facts than this, and I have shared in this article, hopefully, it would help you to clear your doubt on a road bike. Keep Reading!

Is Road Bike Good For Your Back?

Is Road Bike Good For Your Back

Yes, road bikes can be good for your back when used correctly and with proper technique. Road biking is a low-impact form of exercise that can provide many benefits for overall health and fitness, including improving cardiovascular health, building endurance and strength, and reducing stress.

In terms of back health, road biking can help to strengthen the muscles in the back, core, and legs, which can improve posture and reduce the risk of injury. When cycling, it’s important to maintain a neutral spine and engage the core muscles to support the lower back and prevent excessive strain.

You Might Like to Read:- Why Are Road Bike Seats So Uncomfortable?

Can A Poorly Adjusted Road Bike Cause Discomfort In The Back?

Let’s examine some facts regarding the bike fit and setup which are crucial factors to maintain your back’s good health while pedaling on the road bike. As we discussed above a fact that road bike doesn’t affect the posture of your back rather the indirect factors might do it.

When riding a poorly sized or adjusted bike, you can cause strain in your back, shoulders, or neck, and if you are suffering from lower back pain before, then pedaling the road bike can worsen the condition even more.

You might be curious to know, what does it mean by proper bike fit? And why it is so important?

Spinal Alignment

Usually, when first cyclists ride on a road bike, they mostly ignore the importance of maintaining proper spinal alignment which helps you to avoid any unnecessary strain on the back. The point to be pondered here is that a bike which is too large or too small and doesn’t fit your size, can lead to a rounded or hunched posture, and can put excessive pressure on your lower back that you can’t bear.

Handlebar Height

Another part of road bike that can also impact your back’s health. And this one is handlebars of the road bike. The meaning of proper setup of road bike was the position of your handlebars. If the handlebars are too low, it can cause the rider to hunch over, which ultimately can strain your neck and shoulders, and if they are too high, it can put higher pressure on your lower back. Therefore, it is been said that find the road bike whose handlebars height are in the right position so it can maintain your posture and minimize any injury.

Saddle Position

The position of the saddle on a road bike can also impact back health. If the saddle is too far forward or too far back, it can cause the rider to lean too far forward or backward, which can strain the lower back. Finding the right saddle position can help to maintain proper spinal alignment and reduce the risk of back pain.

These were some important points regarding your road bike setup and fit if you ignore them, that might cause an unusual experience to your back.

How Cycling Techniques Can Impact Your Back Health?

How Cycling Techniques Can Impact Your Back Health?

As of now, we were discussing that road bikes or cycling cannot cause any discomfort in your back’s health if you are doing in a right way. But the cycling technique can have a significant impact on your back’s health, particularly in posture and positioning. How? Let me tell you!

When you hunch over the handlebars of your road bike, it will exert excessive pressure on your neck, shoulders or even in your lower back. Moreover, if you arches your lower back, it will put pressure on the lumber spine, leading to discomfort or pain in that particular area.

How can you avoid these mistakes and maintain the proper posture and positioning? You need to follow following tips:

  • Engage the Core Muscles: By engaging the core muscles, the rider can support their spine and maintain proper alignment. This can be done by pulling the belly button towards the spine and engaging the lower abdominal muscles.
  • Keep the Shoulders Relaxed: When the rider is tense in the shoulders, it can lead to discomfort or pain in this area. To avoid this, the rider should focus on keeping the shoulders relaxed and down, away from the ears.
  • Maintain a Neutral Spine: The rider should aim to maintain a neutral spine while cycling, with the natural curves of the spine in place. This can be achieved by keeping the pelvis level and the lower back slightly arched.

What Common Injury Can Occur If You Don’t Use It Properly?

The answer is PFPS whose full form is Patellofemoral pain syndrome which is a common overuse injury among professional cyclists, accounting for about one-quarter of all cycling injuries. It is also known as “runner’s knee” and is caused by excessive stress on the knee, leading to a dull, aching pain where the knee connects with the femur.

PFPS can affect the knee joint and surrounding muscles in several ways. The pain is usually located at the front of the knee and is often exacerbated by activities that involve bending the knee, such as cycling. The pain can be caused by a number of factors, including a saddle that is positioned too low or a cleat that is not properly aligned.

When the knee joint is under excessive stress, it can cause the surrounding muscles to become tight and inflamed, leading to further pain and discomfort. The muscles that are most commonly affected include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and iliotibial band.

If left untreated, PFPS can lead to more serious injuries, such as cartilage damage or patellar tendinitis. It is important for cyclists to take preventative measures to avoid PFPS, such as ensuring proper bike fit and maintaining proper technique and posture while cycling.

In addition, if symptoms of PFPS are present, it is important to seek medical attention and follow a proper rehabilitation program to prevent further injury.

Sum it Up!

So, what did you get to know in the end so far? Road bikes are not bad for your back at all. If your bike is in poor condition or setup, or you are using the wrong cycling techniques of using it excessively as a beginner it can cause strain or pain in your neck, shoulder, and in your lower back.

Therefore, for maintaining good back health, always use proper bike setup, maintain good position and posture, and take all the preventive measures to avoid injuries such as PFPS.

It goes without saying that there is no need to worry, just ride as you normally would on a normal day, and enjoy the benefits of this healthy habit for years to come.

What are your thoughts on it? When you ride a road bike, do you feel any discomfort in your back? Did you find it uncomfortable the first time you rode? Let us know in the comments.

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Tonny is an active cyclist with 7+ years of experience in coaching. With over 500 trained students, he is currently promoting safe cycling around the globe.

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