Mal de dos en vélo : Causes et solutions

Written by Bloon Paris


Back pain while cycling: Causes and solutions

Do you suffer from back pain when cycling? You are not alone ! According to a study, 55% of cyclists have already suffered from back pain while cycling. Although cycling is excellent for cardiovascular exercise and is easy on the joints, it can lead to back pain if not used correctly. In this article, we help you understand where your back pain when cycling comes from and we give you solutions and advice to fully enjoy your bike rides without pain or discomfort.

Causes of back pain when cycling

Position on the bike

According to several studies on cyclists, the main cause of back pain while cycling is incorrect posture, specifically bending the lower back too far forward . If you position your saddle too high or too low and incorrectly adjust your handlebars, this can cause back pain. For example, handlebars that are too low will cause you to lean forward and cause back pain.

Excessive use of back muscles

Cycling is an activity that mainly uses the muscles in your legs including the quadriceps and calves, which creates an imbalance between your upper and lower body. Unfortunately, this imbalance can lead to tension in your lower back, because your back muscles must compensate for the imbalance. Too low cadence or pedaling technique.

In addition, a study showed that the lower back muscles become exhausted and have more difficulty maintaining the position of the spine after holding it in a static leaning position after a long period of time.

Road and cycling conditions

Road conditions such as irregularities on the road are also one of the causes of back pain while cycling. If your bike is not equipped with shock absorbers, your spine experiences all the vibrations from road shock, which worsens back pain and back problems.

Prevention of low back pain in cyclists

Correct fit of bike and equipment

Adjusting your bike correctly is essential to preventing back pain while cycling. The height of your bike's saddle should allow you to bend your knee slightly when the pedal is in the low position. In addition, the saddle should be tilted slightly forward to allow you to reduce the pressure on your lower back. Concerning the handlebars, they must be at a suitable height so that you do not have to lean forward and avoid back pain while cycling.

Adopt good posture on the bike

To avoid back pain while cycling, it is important to adopt good posture, keeping your shoulders relaxed, your elbows slightly bent and your back straight. It is advisable to maintain a stable position and engage your core muscles to support your spine. Do not lean excessively forward to avoid back pain while cycling.

Effective pedaling techniques

Adopting an effective pedaling technique can help prevent and reduce back pain while cycling. You must pedal in a smooth and regular manner using the full rotation of the pedal to distribute the effort evenly. In addition, pedaling at a higher cadence helps reduce strain on the lower back.

Solutions for back pain while cycling


Stretches for cyclists

Cyclist stretches are an effective way to relieve and prevent back and muscle pain in cyclists. We recommend stretching your hamstrings, calves and glutes before every bike ride. We have selected three effective stretches for you:

Hamstring stretching:

Standing with your feet together, try to touch your toes while slowly leaning forward. If you can't do this, just try touching your ankles or shins. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.

Glute stretch:

Lie on your back with your knees bent, place your left ankle on your right knee, then grab the back of your left thigh and pull lightly to feel a stretch in your right glute. Hold this position for 30 seconds then do the same on the other side.

Back stretching:

While lying on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and your hips on the floor, try to lift your chest off the floor to stretch your back as much as possible. Hold this position for between 15 and 30 seconds then repeat 2 or 3 times.

These stretches allow you to maintain the flexibility of your muscles and prevent pain.

Targeted muscle strengthening

Strengthening your abdominals and back muscles helps support your spine and maintain good posture while cycling. A well-developed joint contributes to better stability and reduces the load on the muscles. You can integrate exercises into your routine such as core exercises as well as back exercises such as push-ups.

Use of suitable equipment

Using a bike of a size and design adapted to your body shape greatly helps to reduce and prevent back pain while cycling. Choose a bike with front and rear shock absorbers that absorb road shock and therefore protect your spine from vibrations. Additionally, don't forget to adjust your saddle and handlebars correctly to have a comfortable posture and avoid tension.

To conclude, if you adopt good posture, use your bike correctly and incorporate core strengthening exercises into your routine as well as stretching before each bike ride, you will be able to say goodbye to back pain while cycling.

FAQ: Back pain while cycling

Is it good to cycle when you have back pain?

If you adopt correct posture and use a suitable bike, cycling can be beneficial for your back. However, if you feel pain we advise you to consult a professional.

What is the main cause of lower back pain in cyclists?

Incorrect posture due to poor saddle and handlebar positioning is the main cause of back pain while cycling.

How to relieve back pain? To relieve your back pain we recommend that you do stretches before each bike ride and strengthen your core. If you are looking for solutions to relieve your back pain, do not hesitate to consult our articles:

What is the correct position on a bike? If you have relaxed shoulders, slightly bent cubes and a straight back, your position is correct.

What is the correct saddle height? The correct saddle height allows for slight knee flexion when the pedal is in the low position. If your knee is completely extended or too flexed, the saddle needs to be adjusted.

What distance between the saddle and the handlebars? The distance between the saddle and the handlebars should allow you to maintain a comfortable posture, without you having to stretch too much or curl up too much. ​

How do you know if your bike is properly adjusted? IF you pedal without pain or tension, your bike is well adjusted. Your knee is slightly bent when the pedal is down and you should be able to reach your handlebars without stretching or curling up too much.

What is the correct height for a bicycle handlebar? In general, the correct handlebar height is slightly below or level with the saddle. This position allows you to maintain a comfortable posture without leaning your back too far forward.

How to avoid back pain when cycling? To avoid back pain while cycling, properly adjust the saddle and handlebars, adopt good posture, do regular stretching, and strengthen your core muscles.