Low Back Pain: Strength or Flexibility?
Over the last 29 years, I have seen lack of flexibility be the cause of both bad body position on the bike and consistent back pain. Here is the reason why. Imagine you and another person are pulling on a rope, unless one of you take a step closer to one another, you are not going to release the tension within the rope. If you both keep pulling on the rope, one (or both) of you will keep making adjustments in your stance to keep from falling over, this is EXACTLY what happens within the muscles.
This week, lets break down Flexibility
When it comes to increasing your flexibility in your back, refrain from stretching your back! Sounds odd, but let's take a look at the way the muscles attach to the bones.
Quadriceps (muscle in the front of your legs)
When you quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your legs) are tight, they "pull" on the top of your hip bones which tilts your pelvis forward. When this happens, your lower back now has a "bend" in it which puts a tremendous amount of stress within the muscles that run along your spine (the erector spinae muscles).
Glutes (butt muscles)
Your glutes (butt muscles) are a very strong group of muscles (glutes maximus and minimus) that serve numerous stabilization purposes.
Hamstrings (back of your legs below your butt)
The hamstrings work in conjunction with the quadriceps to stabilize the knee. However, just like the quads, when the hamstrings become tight, they pull down on the pelvis but tilt the pelvis backwards. When the hamstrings pull down, they over lengthen the quads and create muscle tightness in the lower back again.
Please don't let this become confusing, picture the pelvis tilting forwards and backwards. If the muscles on either the front or the back of the pelvis become tight, the joints around the muscle group become fatigued and eventually sore.
So with this being said, let's begin getting the muscles in your legs and glutes loosened up before we introduce any strength exercises. After a 10 minute warm up, click here and implement stretches #1-7 single muscle stretches.
If you have a foam roller, please click here and implement the first six foam roller exercises.
Next week we will look at some strength exercises that you can implement to improve your strength and endurance for riding and racing.
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