According to the National Institute of Health, 70 to 85 percent of people will experience back pain at some time in their lives. One of the ways to ensure that you’re not among that number is by taking preventative steps, such as cycling.
May is National Bike Month, and The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21, as well as a host of other events across the nation. Celebrate these events – and do your back some good, too!
Dr. Michael Duffy and the experts at Texas Back Institute have compiled the following list of rewards cycling can offer your back and spine as well as a few tips on how to get the most out of your ride:
- Riding a bike improves lower body muscular strength and overall endurance.
- It’s a less of a weight-bearing activity than running, so it places less stress on the back and spine, hips and knees.
- Cycling is a great cardiovascular and conditioning exercise.
- Stationary bikes offer benefits when weather conditions prevent hitting the roads and trails.
- Regular exercise can increase your flexibility, which reduces your risk of back pain and injury.
- Cycling engages your gluteal, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles.
- Be sure to use the right kind of bike for the terrain on which you’re riding—taking a street bike to off-road trails is not a great idea. You could end up with a flat tire and a sore back.
- Stretching should be a part of your training regimen. Be sure to stretch all of your hip muscles, front, back and sides, as well as quads—thigh and inner thigh, calf muscles, chest, back and neck.
- Have an experienced professional fit you for the proper type and size of bike in order to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Ride with your back straight—this will prevent lower-back stress and can improve your posture.
For more information about National Bike Month, visit their official Web site www.bikeleague.org.