3. STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
During the pedaling motion, the core stabilizes the pelvis, providing a foundation for your legs to push against. The stronger your core, the faster you’ll go. On the flip side, if you have a weak core, you’ll be forced to use your lower back to compensate. This can cause pain as the lower back muscles begin to fatigue and eventually leads to injury.
By strengthening your core, you’ll rely on your lower back for power less, making it easier to tolerate the forward position on the bike as the miles and hours in the saddle pile up. Give these exercises a try to strengthen your core, decrease your pain and improve your speed in the process.
4. IMPROVE YOUR MOBILITY
Because of the position, tight hamstrings are a common ailment for cyclists. What you may not realize is tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain, since these muscles attach on the lower part of the pelvis. When your hamstrings are tight they can pull down on the pelvis causing a posterior pelvic tilt, resulting in increased flexion of the lumbar vertebrae.
Make it a habit to foam roll and stretch your hamstrings a few times per day, especially right after you get off the bike. Remember: You’ll get a better stretch and improve your flexibility more when you’re already warmed up, so do so when possible.
Tight quadriceps, hip flexors, piriformis and other muscles that originate at the pelvis can cause back pain as well. Including some of these stretches in your routine improves your overall flexibility and not only helps you avoid lower back pain on the bike, but can also help you achieve a lower, more aerodynamic position.
5. INCREASE YOUR MILEAGE SLOWLY
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist ramping up for an upcoming race, increasing your mileage too fast could lead to pain or injury out on the road. Like anything else, if your muscles aren’t conditioned to handle the stress of the activity you’ll have to compensate for any areas of weakness — and most of the time your lower back will take the bulk of the punishment.
Allow your body to adapt to the increased time spent riding by increasing your mileage slowly, by no more than 20% per week. It’s also a good idea to use training blocks to prevent overtraining and injury. Follow every three weeks of ramping up your weekly mileage with one week of recovery. Your recovery week should include some cross training, rest days, and a 30–40% decrease in your total weekly mileage.