You did it. You finally bought the motorcycle you‘ve dreamed of owning. You’ve got the wind in your hair, the roar of power beneath you, the open road and the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts. Then you dismount and, oh my God, the aching back.
Does your back hurt when you ride your motorcycle? Find out why. There are both ergonomic and physical reasons why you may experience back pain when you ride a motorcycle.
First, let’s talk about the ride. Handlebars, seats and foot pegs are primary culprits when it comes to causing lower back pain.
Your seat may not fit you properly. It may be too high or too narrow. Then your back suffers the choice. The seat should resemble a tractor seat, wide enough to encompass your entire hip area. You might also need an additional backrest for support. Stock seats are often cheap and uniform in design. Go to aftermarket seat sellers and try them out. Then, you can either upgrade through the manufacturer or invest in an ergonomic seat and spend an hour in the garage swapping out the old one.
Next, a handlebar and foot peg combination can be a chief contributor to back pain while riding a motorcycle. There are three handlebar and foot peg combinations in the motorcycle world. They’re known as the Racer, the Cruiser, and the Standard. The Racer is perfect for road racing, but for the average enthusiast, they can leave you with a crab walk that takes months to correct. There’s no proper leverage or control because your arms are overloaded trying to balance your body weight because the foot pegs are set too far back.
The Standard is a fairly good choice, but you have to make sure the foot pegs are not set back too far and that the handlebars are not too short. The Standard offers the most ergonomically engineered stock combination on the commercial market and is designed to keep the load off your back.
The Cruiser is an excellent choice as long as the handlebars are not placed too high and the foot pegs are not placed too far forward. It a comfortable ride and may be all you need to relieve the problem.
Finally, check your foot pegs. Some motorcycles have minor adjustment positions for foot pegs. Alternatively, you may opt to have the “floor board” instead of the peg. Just a simple foot position alteration can change the load on your back.
So now, you have the perfect geometry in your motorcycle for your frame and build. You go for the long anticipated ride and still your back hurts.
What to know why? Finally, it’s time to learn about your physical kinetics or placement when riding a motorcycle.
Body ergonomics and strength are two huge factors in the reduction of back pain. If you are not strong in the muscles needed to steer, propel or ride a motorcycle you are setting yourself up for back pain. Flexibility, strength and proper riding position are crucial for a pain-free ride.
While riding, try to grip the tank with your knees and let your legs do the job of supporting more of your body weight. If your center mass is positioned correctly above the pegs, you should find it easy to stand up. If you have to lean on the handlebars, you are putting too much stress on the arms and shoulders, which can lead to upper back pain.
You should try yoga for flexibility. It stretches muscles, improving their elasticity and flexibility. Core training of the abdominal muscles not only tightens the abdominal wall but also strengthens the lower back. You won’t go wrong remembering this saying, “If the core is strong, the limbs will follow.”
While some of the riders you meet will be looking “cool”, they won’t be feeling so “cool” when they’re at the doctor office for a slipped disc or a subluxation of a vertebra. With your simple changes, smart design, and core strengthening, you will be striding around while other less informed riders are hobbling around, clutching their backs and moaning.
You are now on top of the game because you cared enough to ask, “Why does my back hurt when I ride a motorcycle?”
Enjoy the road and may the wind always be at your back.