Health: Lower back pain

Root out the cause of your back pain and get back on your bike

If you suffer from lower back pain, you’ll know that it can really get in the way of living your life. Take time to assess why you’re getting the pain and what you can do about it.

The lower back muscles are very strong as they have to hold your spine and pelvis in place, but often they’re worked too hard due to other muscles in the trunk of your body being weak. Try doing the following tests:

Test one: Get into the plank position, keeping your abdominals and buttocks tensed, and time how long you can hold the position without your hips lowering or lower back hurting. Less than 60 seconds will indicate a weakness in your core muscles, especially your abdominals.

Test two: Lying down, pull one leg up towards your chest while keeping both legs as straight as possible. If you can’t get your leg beyond 90 degrees, your hamstrings (muscles at the back of your upper leg) are too tight, which will lead to tension further up your body and lower back.

Test three: One-leg squat. Do this in front of the mirror and watch what your hips are doing: if they’re moving sideways or rotating, your buttocks are weak and therefore the back has to take too much of the strain while you are cycling.

Resolve the problems with the easy exercises illustrated below:

1 Hamstring stretches

Use the same position as you did for the first test and do three 20-second stretches three times a day.

2 Abdominals

Lying on your back, pull your belly button in and up so you feel your lower back being pushed into the floor. Do three sets of 10 and build up to three sets of 20.

3 Bridges

Lying on your back, pull your belly button in and up, and then raise your hips off the floor by tensing your buttocks. Do three sets of 20 (avoid tensing your hamstrings).

About the author

Andy Wadsworth BA SHMS is an amateur off-road triathlon champion and director of My Life Personal Training. You can contact Andy via www.mylifept.com or phone him on 0117 923 7111.

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