Although riding a bicycle provides low-impact, aerobic exercise, if you don't go about it in the right way, you could find yourself suffering from back, shoulder, and neck pain. Preventing pain requires riding a bicycle fitted to you as well as maintaining the proper riding position. Otherwise, your posture will be off, which can increase your risk of back pain and injury.
Problems to avoid:
Maintaining poor pelvic posture. Not sitting the correct way on a bicycle can strain your back muscles.
Craning your neck. If you have a tendency to arch your neck backward when you ride, you can strain your neck and upper back.
Riding on bumpy ground. Cycling over rough terrain can jolt your spine, causing back pain.
What you can do:
Ride a mountain bike with higher, straight handles. Although you shouldn't sit with your spine in a completely upright position, handlebars that are too low can put excess stress on your lumbar spine. You shouldn't have to stretch your arms to reach the handlebars. They shouldn't be too close to you either.
Get more shock absorption by riding a bicycle with larger wheels. Your posture also plays a role. Your back should give a little when you hit bumps, but you can strain it if you ride hunched over.
Ride with your back slightly arched up to absorb the shock when you hit a bump. If you arch your back down, it will bow in more when you hit a bump. After too many bumps, low back pain can set in.
Make the necessary adjustments to your bike. Ride a bicycle that fits your body and isn't too big for you. Also, set it to a gear that makes pedaling easier, especially if you already suffer back pain. Overloading your muscles and joints increases the risk of injury and pain.
Position the height of the seat so the balls of your feet don't touch the ground. You should be able to extend your legs with your knees slightly flexed.
Do stretch exercises before and after you ride. Stretching beforehand increases blood flow to the muscles so you won't feel as sore afterward. Gentle stretches after you ride increases range of motion.
Maintaining the proper body mechanics
Keep your chest up as you ride. Pedal with your knees going straight up and down. Otherwise, you could experience low back pain.
Shift your body weight from time to time from leaning back to leaning forward.
Lift and lower your head occasionally as you ride to avoid neck strain.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears to prevent pain in your upper back and neck.
Bend your elbows a bit to relieve tension in your shoulders and upper back.
For more information, contact a company like Adult & Pediatric Orthopedics SC with any questions you have.