5 Stretches to Prevent Low Back Pain in Mountain Bikers

June 2, 2022 5:21 pm / Category: Dana Point

Dr. Cheryl Moore- Dana Point

As mountain bikers, we put our bodies through a lot of abuse with grueling pedals uphill to hard-hitting descents, but that does not mean that we should deal with low back pain every time we go riding. Research shows that 30-70% of bike riders have back pain. Staying faithful to maintenance and prevention programs can be challenging, but incorporating stretching exercises into your pre-ride routine can help you bike longer and train harder for races such as the upcoming Over the Hump series. 

The most common causes of low back pain in bikers are poor posture and muscle imbalance. While riding, it is crucial to find a neutral pelvis, meaning that the back is not arching too much or too rounded. If you never had a bike fit to set up your bike’s geometry, I recommend checking out your local bike shop or come in for a Bike Right, where we will assess your riding biomechanics and make suggestions to set up your bike. That way, you can get the most out of riding your bike.

Muscle imbalances occur when one muscle that crosses the joint is tighter or stronger than the opposing muscle, causing an imbalance in posture. Spending too much time sitting at a desk or on a bike leads to tightness in the hip flexors, quads, hips, and chest. A hunched or rounded shoulder posture results, putting more stress on the back and making it more difficult to maintain a neutral pelvis. Poor posture over time can cause more significant back injuries such as disc herniation, muscle strains, and decreased joint mobility.

Cheryl’s Mountain Bike Low Back Pain Prevention Program: 

These five pre-ride stretches will improve hip mobility, decrease tension in the low back, decrease muscle imbalance and ensure that your back is warmed up and ready to ride after a long day at the office.

  1. Child’s pose: 

This stretch will help improve the mobility of both hips and open up/decrease stiffness in the lumbar spine on the bike.

  1. Hand up stretch: 

This hip flexor stretch will improve hip mobility and sitting posture on a biking

  1. Seated Hands on Knees Cat/Cow: 

More functional to biking than quad ped cat/cow, this stretch will improve pelvic and lumbar spine mobility

  1. Cobra:

Lumbar spine extension relieves the pressure on the intervertebral discs and improves lumbar spine mobility

  1. T/S extensions over the foam roll: 

Improving mobility of the chest /upper back and decrease stress on the lumbar spine

It is critical NOT to push through the tightness when focusing on stretching. Stretching should be gentle and easy. Perform this stretching routine before every ride. Perform stretches 2x and hold each for 30 seconds. When foam rolling, roll for 1 min.


Don’t let the struggle or fear of low back pain keep you off the bike. By maintaining a pre-ride stretching routine, the only thing that you should be worrying about is what trail to shred next. If we can help – we are here!