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Almost 65 million people in the U.S. suffer from back pain, and 16 million of them deal with it regularly. Biking is an excellent exercise option for people with back pain. It uses several key muscle groups that support the back and hips to make them stronger.
Electric bikes (e-bikes) are an even better choice because they give you more options should you struggle during your ride. The trick is to understand the different bike styles and then pick the best one for your lifestyle – back pain and all. What electric bikes offer the most benefit for those with chronic back pain?
What Are Some Causes of Back Pain?
It is not always possible to know what is causing back pain. The back and spine are intricate structures with many moving parts. There is a lot that can go wrong.
Some common causes include:
Exercise is often a way to treat a back injury with your doctor’s approval. Biking is a low-impact exercise that can improve the health of your back.
Why Consider an Electric Bike?
The issue with riding a bike for exercise is twofold. For starters, it's easy to overlook the fact that it's a round-trip journey. People end up going further than they should, making it difficult to get home.
Second, there are aspects over which you have no control, such as hills, terrible terrain, and wind. They can make biking difficult.
An electric bike offers a solution for both problems. The motor on the bike can make pedaling easier. In some e-bikes, the motor will do all the work, giving you a chance to rest your back and legs as the bike takes you home.
Why is Biking Good for Back Pain?
Biking is excellent for your joints, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The continual action of the pedals is one advantage. This movement aids in the lubrication of joints.
Biking is also a low-impact workout. This means that it does not jolt the joints in ways you see with other forms of exercise. Low-impact action, such as biking, puts less strain on weight-bearing joints in the spine and hips.
A 2020 study found that a 6-week cycling and educational intervention for people with hip osteoarthritis resulted in improved quality of life and functioning and less pain from the condition.
Many people living with arthritis struggle to locate the proper bike for their lifestyle and fitness level. The right choice might be an electric bike.
Choosing an E-Bike Right for Back Pain
E-bikes are just regular bikes with a motor and battery. There are many things to consider when picking out the right e-bike for your back pain. It starts with looking at the design of the bike. If you have chronic back pain, you want an ergonomic design.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is essential for a bike. An ergonomic design means a frame style that provides both efficiency and comfort. What works well for some will not be a comfortable choice for someone that suffers from chronic back pain. Some styles will trigger flair-ups.
On a bicycle, the entire body is in motion. There are several muscles involved, and each muscle has a counterpart. Harmonizing the movement of these muscles creates balance and comfort as your ride.
For back pain, classic styles tend to be the best choice. Classic style means you sit upright in the seat with the handlebars and grips close to your body. This allows the spine to maintain its natural “S” shape.
Consider the Step
Step refers to mounting and dismounting the bike. Are you going to raise your leg to get on or off the bike? Or, can you step through the frame to get on it?
Bikes essentially have one of three types of steps on the frame.
A low-step frame features an extremely low top tube or no top tube at all, allowing for simple mounting and dismounting as well as a pleasant, relaxed upright riding position. Low-step puts less strain on the back and hips
The mid-step frame is a modern hybrid type frame that lies between the low-step and high-step structures. This design, often known as a mixed or step-through frame, offers certain distinct advantages.
One of the key advantages of the mid-step is the increased frame strength and stability provided by the top tube, which enables the integration of the battery into the downtube for electric bikes. This offers a more balanced ride feel and boosts the rear rack's weight capacity.
A mid-step frame features an approachable, ergonomic frame geometry, which reduces back strain while putting more weight and pressure on the hips and legs. The upright seated position increases your visibility by extending your sightline and increasing your visibility to others. Top tube heights for mid-step frames typically range from 20 to 30 inches.
The first contemporary bike frame design is the high-step frame. Predictably, high-step frame bikes have the most considerable standover heights (30 inches or more) and need the rider to swing their leg over the top tube to mount and disembark.
The high-step structure will be less enticing to less agile, so not the best choice for someone with chronic back pain.
Choosing a Frame Height
If your e-bike isn’t comfortable, it will spend its life gathering dust in your garage or shed. Height is a big part of making it comfortable, especially if you have back problems. Finding the right bike size is not easy, though.
To do it right, you need to measure your inseam or the length from your crotch to the bottom of your leg. An easy way to do this is to take a pair of pants that fit you well and measure them from the crotch to the bottom of the leg.
Once you know your inseam, you can use that number to find the right bike height. Look for the “standover’ height of the bike. This is the distance between the top of the tube to the ground. If your inseam is shorter than the frame’s standover height, the bike is too high and will be uncomfortable to ride. You want a standover height of one to two inches more than your inseam to get the right bike frame.
Allowing a bike specialist to size the frame for you will solve certain issues. They'll make sure you don't overstretch any important joints when getting on and off the e-bike. Your back, hips, and legs will be better protected if you sit at the lowest possible height and have an adjustable seat. However, when you ride, your feet must remain level on the pedals. The pedals should also be able to swivel freely.
What Handlebars Are Best for Back Pain
Look for an ergonomically-designed handlebar, as well. A wider handlebar improves weight distribution. Instead of kneeling to access curved grips, a flat handlebar allows you to sit on the bike. Because of their flat shape, they are excellent for those who have arthritis in almost any joint, including your back, hips, and knees.
Why Bike Weight Matters
Bike weight is vital because a heavy bike is more difficult to move and ride, especially with e-bikes, where the engine and battery contribute to the frame's weight. To carry the motor and battery, manufacturers increase the frame of the e-bike, making it heavier. An e-bike can weigh up to 20 pounds more than a standard bicycle.
The motor and battery size of an e-bike contribute to the weight. Most folks do not require the most powerful motor. A 250-watt motor is pretty powerful. A 500-watt motor will only provide you with a little quicker speed and add weight to the e-bike.
The higher voltage motor (500-watt) will allow you to travel further on your battery than the lower voltage motor (250-watt). If you intend to ride long distances, the larger engine maybe your best option.
E-Bike Styles Right for Those With Back Pain
Two kinds work well for those who have chronic back pain.
Step-through e-bikes allow you to ride upright, and you may mount and disembark without raising your leg over a bar. To get on the electric bike, step through the curved frame.
They also perform well for the rider who travels through stop-and-go traffic regularly. The design allows you to come off the seat to support the frame at a stoplight and then fast climb back on.
Riding a cruiser e-bike is a great approach to treat joint pain. The design also improves the bike's handling. The seat position of the cycle allows you to sit completely upright without placing any weight on your wrists or elbows. This relieves a lot of the stress in regular issue regions.
Tips For Riding an E-Bike When You Have Arthritis
If you have back pain, you see your doctor to find out why before you start biking. Ask your physician if biking with an electric bike makes sense for you, your fitness level, and your back health.
Before you begin riding an e-bike, keep in mind that you should not push yourself too hard. Back problems come with pain that ranges from minor to severe, so keep in mind that it is fully case-by-case. You want to control your movement, so biking is a good choice, but start slow.
With its pedal-assist feature, e-bike riding allows you to be more active without placing too much stress or pressure on your back.
Other tips for smart e-biking include:
Sixthreezero provides personalized fitting to assist you in finding the perfect electric bike. Our specialists are here to answer any questions you have regarding frame design, size, and how to get the most out of your new e-bike. Visit our website today to learn more about e-bikes.
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