In the fast lane without back pain

Roman Koch 9. June 2021


Who doesn't know this – you sit on the bike for somewhat longer and already your lower back and neck start twinging? Now you can not only eliminate the pain, but also increase your performance at the same time.

This article is brought to you by Medical Running

The longer the bike trip, the greater the chance of back or neck pain. The posture on a bicycle is not ergonomically ideal and often causes tension and pain. The neck muscles become overly strained through kinking the neck to look straight head for long periods of time. And the lower back can’t keep the bent forward posture stable for lengthy periods and also starts to hurt. The solution to your problem lies at the «golden» midpoint of these two problem areas:

The key element is a flexible rib cage. And with good reason: the thoracic spine is built to move. When the thoracic spine is mobile, the lower back and neck can perform their core function: stabilisation!

Mobile in the right place

The basic requirement for a powerful and pain-free back starts with the anatomy. The thoracic spine is predestined to be mobile due to its design. The joints between the individual vertebrae are precisely aligned to enable rotation to the left and right, lateral inclination, and stretching and bending. Unfortunately, we spend way too much time sitting nowadays, thus decreasing the mobility of the thoracic spine. The muscles degenerate and stretching no longer works. Even the rotation suffers. The lower back and neck thus wrongly try to help by taking over the work. Unfortunately, neither are primarily designed to do this as a preventive measure. Once the rib cage becomes stiff, you can't sufficiently stretch your thoracic spine on the bike. However, you still need to look straight ahead: thus, the neck ends up doing more work than necessary to maintain the static posture. This not only causes pain but also chronic tension in the muscles. The solution to this problem: more mobility in the thoracic spine. The more you can stretch and straighten it, the less work for the neck. The same applies to the lower back. If you have a mobile thoracic spine, this will have a positive effect on the lower back. On longer trips, painful tension in the lower back will only appear later, so you can stay longer in the saddle.

Breathing improves your performance

The respiratory volume depends directly on the mobility of the thoracic spine and the ribs. If these are restricted, you cannot realise your full potential. With every inhalation and exhalation, the rib cage needs to expand and contract elastically. The more flexible your rib cage, the more air you can take into your lungs. When cycling, this is complicated by the forward leaning upper body position on the saddle. The rounded back impairs your ability to completely fill your lungs, whereby too little oxygen enters your muscles during increased performance. If you can manage to stretch your thoracic spine more, you will also be able to take in more oxygen.