Cycling, Back Pain & General Health
In the last year the Chiropractors' Association of Australia has labelled "sitting as the new smoking" with research showing the link between sedentary lifestyle and poor health. The thing is though, you are probably sitting down now to read this right now and a huge number of jobs these days require the worker to be in a seated position.
CAN BICYCLING BENEFIT LOW BACK PAIN SUFFERERS AND BOOST OVERALL HEALTH?
To provide some balance for this we will discuss how cycling can be good exercise for low back pain, lumbar degenerative disc disease and lumbar spinal stenosis sufferers plus how it helps your general health.
Cycling is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, developing your lung capacity and stamina for life, lowering your blood pressure and decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, keeping your joints active and providing a form of stress relief. As with all forms of exercise, it helps with weight maintenance, energy levels and general wellbeing. It is also a good form of exercise for people who have experienced back problems, as is allows you to gently improve your muscle tone and activity in a low-impact way. Beginners can easily manage a moderate workout, and people who are more in shape can increase the intensity for a more challenging workout.
Which Conditions Could Cycling Benefit Most?
Bicycling can be good for people who are overweight or suffer back pain as it is a gentle, low resistance way to get active. You can either cycle at your local gym or buy an indoor bike for home. Exercising in the privacy of your own home can be a benefit to those who may feel self conscious in a public space, and it is also highly convenient, making it easier to exercise regularly. If you sit to watch TV for half an hour each night you can instead sit on the exercise bike and pedal while still watching the TV. There are a variety of different types of indoor bike, including upright and reclining (recumbent) models, and you should do some research to determine which type is best for you.
If you have lumbar spinal stenosis, then leaning forward while seated on the bike might be one of the few exercises you can do for a decent duration. Potentially the recIining / recumbent exercise bike could be good for the lumbar spinal stenosis sufferer too. If you have lumbar degenerative disc disease then the reclining model will be a good option for you as you can take load off the lumbar degenerative disc disease. Usually the degenerated disc develops iritation in the normal sitting position but this method allows exercise without jarring and with less pressure on the disc.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise weekly for adults. This works out at being half an hour a day, 5 days a week. So consider jumping on a bike to keep active and healthy. If this is something you really struggle with, maybe you can set up a stationary bike in front of your television, and get the benefits in while watching your evening show!
However it is important to remember that riding a bike is not a complete form of exercise. While it can build strength in the legs, hips and buttocks, and a bit in the stomach and back, it doesn’t do a lot for the upper body. If you are interested in a complete exercise program, consider incorporating other forms of exercise such as swimming along with your cycling.
It is also important to remember to stretch after you’ve done a workout, and to warm up and cool down effectively to avoid stiffness, cramping and strain and minimise your risk of injury. If you experience any pain or discomfort, discontinue your cycling immediately and consult your chiropractor or physician. Also, if you’ve suffered previous injury or illness, or haven’t exercised in a long time, talk to your chiropractor before you go bike shopping! They should be able to assist you in determining a safe and effective program that takes you personal needs into account.