Exercises to Prevent Neck and Low Back Pain
With bike season comes the influx of bike related injuries. Very commonly, neck and lower back pain arises from the position of biking – bent forwards at the waist and looking up with your hands on the handlebars. This position tightens your hip flexors, rounds your shoulders and scrunches the back of your neck leading to postural changes that can impact your spine and cause pain. By training the opposite muscles you are using when biking, you can correct these imbalances, which in turn will improve your biking and decrease discomforts.
Perform two sets of the following exercises slowly and smoothly to exhaustion (but at least ten). You can work them into a regular work out or do them following a bike ride. Remember, you should never exercise through any pain.
1. Y-fly: On your stomach, arms straight, 45 degrees out (like a Y), thumbs facing up. Forehead stays on the ground as you lift arms up/down.
2. Bridging: On your back, arms in the air, lift hips up/down.
3. Back extensions: On your stomach, fingers at your forehead. Squeeze your glutes together and lift your upper body one inch off the ground. Keep your chin tucked in.
4. Superman’s: On your stomach, forehead down, arms straight above you. Suck in your abs and lift your opposite arm/leg in the air.
5. Lunges: Standing with your feet two-foot lengths apart. Hands on your hips, bend both knees to 90 degrees staying tall. Repeat with the same number of repetitions on opposite side.
Stretching regularly, staying hydrated, making sure your bike fits you properly and being safe on the trails are also key in injury prevention! Contact a health care professional if you are not improving so your injury does not end your biking season.