Now that spring is finally here, you're probably excited to get back on your bike again. While this activity is a great workout, it can lead to serious injury from overuse or carelessness.
According to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, 58 percent of 109 surveyed professional cyclists experienced back pain within the last year.
"Most cyclists think you can just jump on a bike and go, when that's far from the case," Dr. Michael Lanning, a chiropractor specializing in cycling-related injuries, told BikeRadar.
Before you cycle all over town, follow these four steps to make sure you don't cause yourself back pain:
1. Get the right bike
Because bikes come in different sizes with a variety of purposes, it's important to select the one that's right for you and the terrain you'll be cycling on. You should also be conscious of the gears you're using and the position of your saddle and handlebars.
2. Strengthen your core
Riding a bike may be a great workout for your legs and heart, but it doesn't necessarily target your core muscles, which need to be strong to prevent back pain. To supplement this missing component, complete different core strengthening exercises when you're not cycling.
3. Listen to your body
Joy Potts, an osteopath specializing in sports injuries, told BikeRadar that she often sees cyclists focusing too much on their bikes and not on their bodies after a crash. The damage from an accident can throw your body off balance, leading to future complications.
If something feels off or uncomfortable, you'll need to assess what it is and adjust your bike accordingly. Ignoring your body's signals for a change can only lead to more problems.
4. Avoid neck strain
Cyclists tend to keep their heads down and pointed forward for speed, but keeping your neck in one position for too long results in strain. Spine-health.com recommends gently lifting and lowering your head throughout your ride to keep the muscles loose.
If you're experiencing back pain after cycling, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.