5 Ways to keep your back healthy as a rider

rugpijn bij ruiters

A healthy back is crucial for riders, not only in the saddle but also for maintaining overall health and avoiding pain as you age.

I often hear from riders that they experience significant back pain, and often, it’s not just due to one factor but a combination of circumstances. Additionally, don’t underestimate the impact of prolonged stress on your back pain.

Whether you’re someone dealing with existing issues or looking to prevent them and maintain a secure and stable position in the saddle, these 5 ways to keep your back healthy can assist you further:

1. Strengthening

You may have heard of the concept of core stability before… This involves strengthening your entire core (glutes, corset around the abdomen and back) to stabilize and absorb shocks effectively. Strengthening this area ensures that you can exercise safely and reduces back pain.

2. Decompression of the lower spine

After a ride, many riders find their lower backs feeling strained and tense due to fatigue and stress. To relieve this tension, simple movements like gently closing the hips or rounding the lower back can provide relief and ease the pressure. Incorporating yoga poses like lunar bridge, happy baby, ragdoll, and child’s pose into your routine can further help alleviate discomfort in this area

3. Twisting and mobilizing the spine

A healthy back is a flexible back. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle, which includes sitting at desks, driving cars, and dealing with stress, often leads to stiffness in the fixed part of our spine (thoracic spine/upper back), while we tend to overextend the already mobile part, leading to extra pressure in that region (lumbar spine/ lower back).

As a rider, it’s essential to be able to rotate your upper body easily without engaging your lower body (for example, when navigating a turn in your jumping course, etc.).

The following poses promote extra mobility in the back: cat-cow pose, twist in tabletop, twist in low lunge, lying twists,…

4. Stretching hip flexors, hamstrings & glutes:

Having tight psoas muscles (located at the front of your hips) can tilt your pelvis, putting pressure on your back. Interestingly, this muscle tends to be overdeveloped in riders due to our position in the saddle.

Conversely, tight hamstrings (located at the back of your upper leg) can result from an unstable core or pelvic instability. Sometimes, the gluteal muscles or hamstrings take over to stabilize the area above.

Some stretches that riders should definitely incorporate to address these areas include: low lunges, pigeon pose, quad stretch, forward fold, half split, …

5. Stretching the entire back chain of the body:

Sometimes, your back can become so tense that you might even feel pain in your neck and shoulders, and in some cases, you might experience tension headaches. Your entire back feels fatigued and painful. In such instances, it’s a good idea to stretch and release tension from the entire back chain of your body. Stretching for longer durations, around 2-5 minutes, also targets the connective tissue around the muscles, leading to significant stress release and accelerating your recovery process.

Try bending forward with straight legs and holding both elbows (ragdoll pose), or interlace your fingers behind your head in this position, bringing your chin to your chest (this targets more on the neck, shoulders, and upper back). Feel free to round your entire back strongly and let your tailbone point toward the floor while doing this stretch.

Try out a full training session yourself:

On the Equi-Yoga platform, you’ll find several real-time videos focused on this theme. You can try out all the videos unlimitedly during the free trial period to experience their effects for yourself!

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