Back Pain When Cycling: Causes, Prevention, and Relief

back pain when cycling

Cycling is a popular form of exercise and transportation that offers numerous health benefits. However, many cyclists experience back pain at some point during their cycling journey. Back pain when cycling can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but understanding its causes and implementing preventive measures can help alleviate this issue. 

In this article, we will explore the common causes of back pain when cycling, provide tips for prevention and suggest effective methods for finding relief.

Understanding Back Pain

What is back pain?

Back pain refers to discomfort or pain felt in the area between the neck and hips, known as the back. It can range from mild to severe and may be acute or chronic in nature.

Common causes of back pain

Back pain can be caused by various factors, including muscle strains, ligament sprains, herniated discs, and spinal abnormalities. Additionally, poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of exercise can contribute to back pain.

Back Pain When Cycling

lower back pain when cycling

Why does cycling cause back pain?

Cycling involves a repetitive motion that can put stress on the back and spine. The combination of bending forward, supporting body weight, and absorbing road vibrations can lead to back pain.

Identifying the type of back pain experienced while cycling

Back pain when cycling can be categorized into two types: lower back pain and upper back/neck pain. Lower back pain is more common and is often caused by poor bike fit, improper posture, or weak core muscles. Upper back and neck pain can result from neck hyperextension, hunching over the handlebars, or prolonged strain on the upper back muscles.

See also: What Muscles Are Worked When Cycling? Beyond The Legs

Causes of Back Pain When Cycling

Incorrect bike fit and posture

A bike that is not properly adjusted to fit your body proportions can lead to back pain. Incorrect saddle height, handlebar position, or frame size can strain the back and cause discomfort. Poor posture while cycling, such as rounding the back or arching the neck excessively, can also contribute to back pain.

Weak core muscles

The core muscles play a crucial role in supporting the spine and maintaining proper posture. Weak core muscles can result in increased stress on the back while cycling, leading to pain and discomfort.

Overuse and repetitive stress

Cycling long distances or engaging in intense training without proper rest can lead to overuse injuries and back pain. The repetitive motion of pedaling and the constant vibration from the road can put strain on the back muscles and structures.

Inadequate warm-up and cool-down routines

Skipping warm-up exercises and neglecting to cool down after a ride can increase the risk of back pain. Proper warm-up activities prepare the muscles for the demands of cycling, while cooling down helps reduce muscle tension and prevent stiffness.

Preventing Back Pain When Cycling

upper back pain when cycling

Getting a professional bike fitting

Consulting a professional bike fitter can ensure that your bike is adjusted correctly to fit your body. They will assess your body measurements, flexibility, and riding style to optimize your bike setup and minimize the risk of back pain.

Maintaining proper posture

Maintaining a neutral spine position and proper posture while cycling is essential for preventing back pain. Engage your core muscles, relax your shoulders, and keep your back straight while riding.

Strengthening core muscles

Incorporate exercises that target the core muscles into your training routine. Strengthening the abdominal, back, and hip muscles can provide better support for the spine and reduce the likelihood of back pain.

Incorporating cross-training exercises

Engaging in cross-training activities such as swimming, yoga, or Pilates can help improve overall fitness, flexibility, and core strength. These exercises complement cycling and contribute to a balanced body, reducing the risk of back pain.

Finding Relief from Back Pain

Rest and recovery

Taking breaks from cycling and allowing your body to rest and recover is crucial for healing back pain. Avoid overtraining and listen to your body’s signals to prevent exacerbation of the pain.

Stretching and flexibility exercises

Performing gentle stretching exercises that target the back, hips, and hamstrings can alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility. Regular stretching routines can help prevent back pain and promote recovery.

Massage and physical therapy

Seeking professional help from a massage therapist or physical therapist can provide relief for back pain. Massage therapy can help relax tight muscles, while physical therapy may include targeted exercises and treatments to address the underlying causes of pain.

Pain medication and anti-inflammatory treatments

In some cases, over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatory treatments may be recommended to manage back pain. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using any medication or treatment.

Utilize the Recover Athletics App

Consider using the Recover Athletics app, which offers a range of exercises and programs specifically designed to help with back pain relief. The app provides guided workouts, stretching routines, and personalized recommendations to aid in your recovery journey.

By incorporating these strategies and utilizing the Recover Athletics app, you can find effective relief from back pain and improve your overall cycling experience.


Back pain when cycling can be a common occurrence, but it doesn’t have to hinder your cycling experience. By understanding the causes of back pain and implementing preventive measures, you can minimize the risk and find relief if discomfort arises. 

Remember to prioritize proper bike fit, posture, and core strength while incorporating rest and recovery into your cycling routine. By taking care of your body and addressing any issues promptly, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of cycling while keeping back pain at bay.


Why does my back hurt when I ride a bike?

Back pain while cycling can be caused by various factors, such as poor bike fit, improper posture, weak core muscles, overuse, or underlying spinal conditions. Identifying the specific cause can help determine the appropriate solutions to alleviate the pain.

How do I stop my back from hurting when cycling?

To prevent back pain while cycling, consider getting a professional bike fitting, maintaining proper posture, strengthening your core muscles, incorporating cross-training exercises, and taking regular breaks to rest and recover. It’s also important to address any bike fit issues or underlying musculoskeletal imbalances that may contribute to the pain.

What height should a bike saddle be for back pain?

The height of the bike saddle is crucial for maintaining proper alignment and reducing back pain. Generally, the saddle height should allow for a slight bend in the knee when the pedal is at the lowest position. However, it’s recommended to consult a professional bike fitter who can assess your individual biomechanics and determine the optimal saddle height for your specific condition.

What causes lower back pain when cycling?

Lower back pain when cycling can be caused by factors such as a rounded or excessively arched back, improper bike fit, weak core muscles, or excessive strain on the lumbar spine. Identifying the root cause can help in finding appropriate solutions.

What causes upper back pain when cycling?

Upper back pain when cycling is often attributed to factors such as rounded shoulders, hunching over handlebars, excessive tension in the neck and shoulders, or poor bike fit. Maintaining proper posture and making necessary adjustments can help alleviate the pain.

What is the correct posture for cycling?

Maintaining the correct posture while cycling is crucial for reducing back pain. Keep your back straight, engage your core muscles, relax your shoulders, and avoid excessive rounding or arching of the spine. Adjusting your bike fit and using proper cycling techniques, such as bending your elbows slightly and keeping a light grip on the handlebars, can also contribute to maintaining a correct cycling posture.

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