Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling and freeing experience for many people; it can also be a cause of back, neck and shoulder pain. Learning how to prevent riding back pain will help keep your rides enjoyable.
Riding Posture and Bike Ergonomics
Posture is important, whether sitting on a chair or a bike. Even if you’re aware of your posture and make an effort to keep your spine straight, you may find your back giving out during a long ride.
The part of a bike most relevant to the rider’s posture is the handlebar/foot peg relationship. A variety of bikes with different configurations are available on the market. The most common styles for street riders are the cruiser and the standard.
The standard bike style puts the rider in a fully upright position with a straight spine and the feet, hips and shoulders aligned. Handlebars should be high enough to prevent the rider from having to overreach or bend forward to use them.
If you have shoulder or upper back pain riding a standard bike, you may need to raise your handlebars. Another area of concern is foot peg placement. If the pegs are set too far back, your upper body will pitch forward and your hips will have to work hard to keep your legs in place. Lower back and hip pain may indicate improper foot peg placement.
The cruiser bike facilitates a more relaxed riding position. On a cruiser, the rider is slightly reclined with his or her feet positioned ahead of the knees. The handlebars on cruisers are generally higher than on a standard. There are both advantages and disadvantages to cruiser posture.
The reclined position opens up the hips and helps to prevent lower back and hip pain caused by tight hip flexor muscles. Yet reclining on a bike causes problems if you’re going above a low or moderate speed, such as on a highway; in order to combat the air pressure pushing you back, you need to lean forward by pulling on the handlebars. This can cause shoulder, neck and upper back strain.
Another concern with cruisers is handlebar height. Some riders like to have their handlebars up high enough for their hands to be at head level with their elbows hanging down. High handlebars can cause shoulder fatigue, which can lead to strains and spasms.
The distance of the handlebars from the rider should also be considered; if they are too far away, the rider will have to lean forward, causing lower back strain.
Foot pegs should be close enough to the rider to properly support the leg. If they are too far away, the leg and hip muscles will need to work to keep the leg from falling. This unnecessary muscle use can cause strain in the hips, legs and lower back.
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One main cause of back, neck and shoulder pain among riders is tension. Muscles are connected; if you’re tensing one, you’re likely tensing many. Two signs that you’re tensing up on your ride are a tight grip on the handlebars and raised shoulders.
When muscles are tense, they are contracted. Keeping muscles in a contracted state without relaxing them disrupts the intake of blood and the excretion of waste, a process which ensures muscles have what they need to work and stay healthy. As waste products build up in muscles, they become rigid. The lack of nutrients and oxygen can cause spasm.
You can prevent back, neck and shoulder pain when riding by reminding yourself to loosen your grip and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Learning the causes of motorcycle back pain will help you prevent it. Pay attention to the ergonomics of your bike and remind yourself not to tense up. Lose The Back Pain System will teach you different methods of relieving back pain no matter where it came from.