Bike Position and Lower Back Pain

Take a look at the two images above.  There are many obvious differences – size, attire beard length, overall ginger-ness – but I want to focus on a less obvious, and very important, similarity: body position.  Let’s look again:


If you paid attention to the red lines, hopefully you got the point – despite being in two completely different settings, doing two completely different activities, their back position is almost identical.  Why would that be the case?  What relationship is there between a safe, effective deadlift position and a solid attack position on the bike?

It boils down to this:  the lumbar spine (also known as the lower back) and the connective tissues that support it are not made to handle significant external resistance under flexion. In other words, if your back is rounded, you are over-relying on ligaments, as opposed to muscles, to absorb force that should be transferred down the chain to your glutes and hamstrings.  If you want a herniated disc (or any number of other chronic lower back issues), that’s how you get it.  In a more immediate sense, riding with a rounded lower back is often the primary cause of lower back fatigue, which quickly degrades performance and can cost you precious seconds on your race run.

This is one of the reasons why we emphasize development of a good hip hinge in our athletes.  Mastering the hip hinge engrains a movement pattern that secures the lower back, activates your core, and transfers force efficiently down the posterior chain to the glutes and hamstrings.  Learning this relatively simple movement pattern will help save your lower back in both the short and long term.

However, learning the movement pattern is only the first step.  You also need to spend some time working on overall strength to ensure that you have the core stability to hold a good attack position for as long as necessary during a run.  To learn more about how SISU Strong can help you on that front, schedule a free consultation with us!      

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