Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Better Bicycle for My Back

People come to me for Recumbent bicycles. About 50% come because of pain issues. The rest just want something different or just want to go fast.

Its true, Recumbents are good to relive some types of pain. Neck, hand, wrist and tender private spots have less stress while riding a Recumbent. But what about the back?

There are all types of back pain, One person's pain, may not be the next persons. When shopping for a bicycle to relieve back pain, one must consider the reasons for the pain.

Its true, that if you get on any bicycle and ride it harder than you are fit to, you will get off hurting. We at wheelworks at this time of year have many a rider coming in with pain issues because they went too hard, too soon. Taking the Winter off and then hopping back on the bike to ride it as fast and as long as they did in the Fall can be a mistake. Peter Mooney at Wheelworks calls it "Easter Knee." Easter knee is what you do to your knees on your Easter ride. Common as it is, recumbent or no recumbent, You can do damage to yourself by not properly warming up and being in shape.

Pain with your back is another problem. Riding a Recumbent may not solve your problem and heres why:
When riding a upright style bicycle, the rider can stand up. Lifting the back off the seat and absorbing the shock in ones legs of a crack or pot hole in the street. This is something that can not be done on a recumbent. Reading the road may be a little easier on a recumbent because of the heads up style, but un-weighting the wheels is very hard if not impossible. During my times of back pain I have tried to lift my rear end off the seat by bridging between the pedals and the back of the seat with my upper back, but in severe back pain, any road shock at all can make back pain worse.

An up right style bicycle has you pulling on the bars while climbing hills. This in time will strengthen the back and can cause some types of back pain to actually go away in time. I know this first hand.

Another thing about the recumbent style of riding is that you use your back to ride. Pushing into the back of the seat for leverage makes climbing easier. Something that is missed when back on a upright bike.

A simple test to see if a recumbent will be better for your back is this: Ask yourself how you feel sitting in a chair. Although some style of recumbents have you almost lying down, for the most part the sitting position on a recumbent is like sitting in your favorite arm chair. If you find this to be uncomfortable while watching TV, chances are that watching the street and road while seated in a recumbent you will be uncomfortable as well.

Test riding a recumbent may have you feeling comfortable at first, but its the longer rides on rougher roads that will have you in short order wishing for something different.

Please comment to this posting if you have less problems with back pain riding a recumbent style bicycle.


  1. Since I started riding a recumbent 7 tears ago I have not had any back pain. Most of my back pain was from being bent over on a DF bike for long periods of time. The pain was in the back muscles and I don't think someone with disc problems would be any better on a recumbent. The plus side is also I'm much faster now for much longer distances. (400 km Brevets)

  2. Good point. I never had that knotting pain at the top of my back on both sides my neck while riding any recumbent. My longest one day ride was 176 miles, got off the bike and felt fine.

  3. I bought my Tour Easy because my DF was a pain in the butt, back, shoulders, neck, wrist etc. Now I can ride as long as I like and feel just fine at the end.

  4. Wow! I would love to try this bicycle someday. It's different and it's good for my back. Just the same as the inversion table my husband bought for me. It's what I use for stretching my back when I experience back pain. It's different just like your recumbent bike because I have to lay down on it and flip it upside-down to elongate my spine and relieve pressure on my spinal discs. =D

    Shaunna Schumacher

  5. sounds different? Maybe a new way to cycle too! I bet that would slow down the cars when they saw us riding inverted on some country lane! Heads down and in style!

  6. Thanks for sharing your insights regarding recumbent bicycles and how it affects a person with back problems. Take time to consider if an upright or recumbent style is more effective to ease back pain. Another advisable thing to do is to visit a reputable chiropractor to have your back checked and even do some exercises to strengthen it.

    Anita Rose @ Sports Med Online

  7. Riding recumbent bicycles is actually an ideal routine exercise for back pains, as the movements will help you strengthen the muscle groups in your body. This will result to proper distribution of weight, reducing the stress in your lower back and improving your posture. The progress may not be as fast as you've hoped, but it will help you gain a good shape and long term wellness. As for an immediate and instantaneous but equally effective treatment, I suggest you visit pain relief experts for ask professional advice.

    Helen Barnett @ Atlanta Spine and Anesthesia

  8. A Better Bicycle for My Back I have read your page and gotten more information from this page. I love exercise at my home by Recumbent Bike and very serious for my fitness. I want to buy new Recumbent Bike with my few friends recently so I am funding more information about this bike for exercise step by step. I want to share my experience writing about Recumbent Bike


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