If you love cycling, a bad back can be a pain in the tail—literally. Back pain can keep you from enjoying everything from casual rides with your family to road races and adventurous trails. Regardless of your cycling habits, it’s not fun to be limited by back trouble. Thankfully, you don’t have to be. By choosing the proper bike, you’ll find that cycling can be painless and pleasurable, freeing you up to focus on the road ahead instead of the back behind.
At the Gym
If you’re a gym rat, you’re in luck. You’ve got bike options that can support your back while giving you a good workout. Instead of choosing an upright bike, which offers no back support, opt for a recumbent bike with a full chair seat. These handy riders are low impact and provide great options for those with back troubles. Plus, they help distribute weight evenly between the glutes and the back and also facilitate great circulation.
On the Trail
According to Arthritis Today, mountain bikes are actually one of the most comfortable options for cyclists with back troubles. With front fork and seat post suspension the amount of shock your body absorbs is reduced, creating a much easier ride. The larger, wider wheels of a mountain bike also help reduce the impact your body takes on bumps and dips, which makes for a smoother ride and a happier back.
In the Street
When choosing a bike designed for road racing and riding, your best bike choice is likely the one that fits your size. According to Bicycling Magazine, many cyclists with back pain are riding bikes that are too big for them, which leads to poor body mechanics. Instead of jumping on a road bike that hasn’t been approved for someone of your height, head to a local bike shop and ask a pro to help you find the right one. Getting a bike that fits your body will help you enjoy the pavement with ease and speed.
With the Family
If you’re simply out for the recreation, memories and relationships that can be created through casual cycling, you can still enjoy the ride even if you have back problems. The key components for finding the right bike for casual riders will be comfort and size. According to the San Francisco Bike Coalition, the best bikes for leisure are similar in style to mountain bikes with wider tires and higher, straight handle bars. These allow riders to maintain a more upright posture and reduce the strain on the back. Look for these comfort-inducing bikes at your favorite store and then head out with the family for a day of fun!
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.