Ask the Expert: Why does my back hurt while cycling?

Physio and bike-fitter Bianca Broadbent reviews the causes of riding-related discomfort and how to treat it

Rider leaning against a road sign holding his back
(Image credit: Daniel Gould)

There are certain nagging questions in cycling that have a tendency to generate conflicting opinions and a confusing array of different views. In this ASK THE EXPERT series from Cycling Weekly’s print edition, we seek to clear up confusion by seeking out the experts best qualified to provide, if not the final word, then at least authoritative advice supported by verified expertise.

Low back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions – as many as 10% of adults suffer from persistent or repeated bouts. While cycling is rarely the primary cause, it can be a contributory factor. Some cyclists find that they develop back pain as soon as they get on their bike, while for others it sets in as the duration of their riding increases. So what causes this pain? The problem manifests differently depending on your level of cycling, your riding position, training load and set-up choices. In terms of the underlying physiology, the ‘prime suspect’ causes in the scientific literature include: 

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Physio & bike-fitter

Bianca Broadbent a physiotherapist who specialises in the rehabilitation of cyclists and bike-fitting. She consults at Vorteq Sports, Silverstone, Spire Healthcare and Fit Your Bike.