Today I want to talk about an unfortunately common problem with a lot of mountain bikers, and that is low back pain.
Now, whether it bothers you on the trail or bother you after a ride, whether it’s intermittent, whether it’s something you live with constantly.
Most riders are gonna go through some sort of low back pain while they arrive, and 90% of the time is going to boil down to a couple of mistakes in three areas.
Now, let me say first and foremost, this is not meant to take place of medical advice.
If you actually have a medical problem, you definitely should be under the care of a medical professional and get the stuff checked out first.
Even if you’ve got something, make sure you don’t have something bigger than you need to get checked out. But with all that said, for a lot of riders, it boils down to more mobility, movement, and riding technique issues.
For more safety concerns you should know how to treat road rash?
So those are the three things that really plague a lot of riders. So, the first one is mobility.
Now, mobility, specifically talking about the is shoulders affects this as well, but really the hips. So, what we do is we spend a lot of time in this seated position.
We spend a lot of time in this position. On our bikes, our hip flexors get short. It starts to pull the pelvis forward, it pulls up on the hamstrings, makes them tight.
If the hips are tight and they’re not able to move freely, then you’re going to have to create movement somewhere else that’s the way the body is designed.
We’re designed to have stable joints stack on top of mobile joints and so the mobile joints move and the stable joint the everything and everything’s good but what happens is when that gets out of whack.
So, for example, the knees are meant to be stable. You don’t want unstable knees that’s an ACL injury or something, right? We don’t want that. We want mobile hips.
We want our hips to be able to move freely, and we want a stable lumbar spine. Our lower back is meant to be stable. It can move, but it’s not meant to drive the movement through the lower back.
What happens is when you start to lose mobility in the hips and you can’t move them freely. You start to move more from the lower back.
So, for example, on the bike, instead of being able to get your hips back and your chest down and get into a good position, whether you’re sitting or the attack position on the bike, you end up doing something that looks like this.
There’s a lot more rounding from the lower back and a lot less from the hips. You can see I have to get more from the hips here in order to get my lower back straight. In my lower background, I have less here.
So, if this is tight, then you’re going to be forced to move from the lower back so it doesn’t matter how strong your core is.
If you have bad mobility, then you won’t be able to prevent the low back from moving because your body’s going to move.
I’m just going to do what you ask me to do. If you tell it to get on this bike or to sit down or just you basically whatever it, is you’re doing in your normal everyday life and you don’t have good hip mobility going to move a lot more from the lower back.
So that’s mobility. The next part of it is movement, which I’ve kind of touched on stems from mobility.
If you don’t have good mobility, you can’t move well. But even if you have good mobility, you need to be able to move well.
Specifically, you need to be able to squat and to hip hinge or deadlift. Now I’ve done an article that explains some more detail that I’ll link to with this blog post.
But in short, there’s a difference between pushing the butt back and laying the chest comes down and hip hinging or deadlifting and dropping the butt straight down and keeping the chest up which is squatting.
You need to have command of both squatting, hip hinging and all the stuff in between in order to really be able to move as you need to on the bike.
Squatting is more towards what we need, the posture we need when we stand up to pedal deadlifting and that hip hinge is more what we need when we’re in the attack position or seeded pedaling position on the bike.
But we need command of both of those in order to take the strain off the lower back, because if we don’t, then what will end up happening again is you’re going to end up using the low back too much to make up for the movement that you don’t have.
When you try to stand up to pedal instead of being able to get the hips where they need to, you’ll end up leaning too far forward with the low back.
That’ll be unbalanced when you stand up. If you don’t have a good hip his, you’re trying to get in the attack position again. You can’t push the butt back and let the chests come down.
They get stuck so the mobility and the movement are definitely tied together, but you need to focus on the mobility of the hips.
Then once you’ve increased that mobility in the hips, you need to work on your ability to move with both the squatting and the hinging pattern. Make sure you own both of those. So again, something you need to keep in mind.
Lastly, riding technique. Now, this is going to be kind of controversial, I guess, but honestly, most low back pain on the trail comes from sitting down the pedal too much.
Sitting down should not be your go-to position. We’re not road riders, okay? We’re not riding Tour to France, so you don’t need to worry about it.
What happens if I have to ride for 12 hours a day for 30, 40 days in a row? That’s not where we live, all right?
That’s not what we do. You can stand up to pedal a lot more. You’ve just been told that you should sit down more than it’s going to make you tired, which is complete rubbish.
If you get strong with it, then it’s not going to make you tired. So, stand up to pedal more.
When you stand up to pedal, it puts your shoulders in a better position. It puts your lower back in a better position. It gets your shoulder stacked on top of your hips. It gets your core engaged. Your core is not engaged properly.
When you’re sitting down, your knees are fully extending, plus you’re getting the co-contraction. It the quad and the hamstring, which is the stabilizing element that you need.
When you’re sitting down, I pedal. Not only is your core not activated properly, but your knees are unstable as well.
So, stand up to pedal and it’ll take care of a lot of these issues and they’ll give me this bike fitting nonsense.
See, the pedaling is a turd. You can only Polish that turd so much. It should be a position that you use, but it shouldn’t be your go-to power position.
You only stand up when you absolutely have to stand up for your hard efforts, sit down to recover, and then repeat that process and guarantee that’ll take a lot of stress and strain off your lower back if you do that.
So again, hopefully, this is giving you some good insights into some things that you can start to add to your program or address.
Rest if you’re not hip mobility, making sure that you move well and are strong with those movements with the hip hinge aka deadlift and the squat.
And also, that on the bike you’re standing up more to pedal. Stop using the seeded pedaling position as a crutch and stand up to pedal more.
Enforce your core force your hips, force all that stuff to get stronger and move better, and your back will thank you for it. So hopefully these tips have helped you.
So, here we have discussed things what is lower back pain and how you can take care of it. So, if you want to know biking tips and tricks then go OutdoorXsports for details.