Are you also experiencing lower back pain when riding BMX?
Or maybe it came so far that you feel it all the time?
I’ll share what you can do about it from my experience of riding BMX for 20+ years.
First, there’s no overnight solution for it, sadly.
And second, you can fix it (unless you developed “technical” damage that requires a professional to sort it out).
This post covers:
- Why Does Riding BMX Hurt My Lower Back?
- How Do I Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain From Riding BMX?
- How Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain In BMX?
- Conclusion: Is It OK To Ride BMX With Lower Back Pain?
I remember having lower back pain in my early 20s, especially after multi-hour long sessions.
Plus, I once fell on my lower back (from a 3 feet tall sub-box straight onto the coping), which took forever to heal.
But now, I’m well into my 30s and NEVER feel any lower back pain.
Even if I’m at a musical festival, standing for 7+ hours straight (hey, I don’t want to miss all those epic concerts!), which was a nightmare back in the day.
I’ll say this: Thinking that age is the root cause of your lower back pain is just an excuse.
My back hurt when I was 20 but I’m now 36 and it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Okay, let’s now take care of your lower back pain so you can enjoy more BMX!
Why Does Riding BMX Hurt My Lower Back?
From my experience, the most common cause of lower back pain in BMX is simply due to:
Yes, that’s right.
Your lower back, external and internal core muscles are WEAK. They don’t offer the necessary support, so eventually, you’ll start to feel pain – in the lower back.
If I’d know this, I’d work on my inner/outer core stabilizing muscles (it’s not about the six-pack!) WAY sooner and prevent any back pain.
The moment I started working on my core (three to five times weekly), my pain completely went away.
Even I was surprised because I didn’t notice right away that I didn’t have any pain anymore.
In most of the cases, muscle weakness is the core cause of lower back pain.
Another big one is the spinal flexion. But this one mainly relates to taller riders with handlebar position that’s too low.
This causes you to be hunched over too much, and in combination with weak muscles, you can quickly develop lower back pain.
Too Long Sessions
If most of your sessions are around an hour long, and then there’s a jam and you end up riding for multiple hours, it’s likely that your back will start to hurt.
That’s not necessarily something to worry about because your back (muscles and ligaments) is just not used to it.
It’s like if you always run a 5K and then you decide to do a 20K, your legs will obviously die.
Impacts (High Drops, Bails, etc.)
Regardless of the style of riding you do, rough landings are inevitable.
But lower back pain may appear even if you do a lot of drops and gaps (and you ride extremely high tire PSI) – particularly in a single session.
But this is – again – primarily because of the weakened core muscles.
I can’t stress enough how important your core muscles are.
Strong and mobile core means LONGEVITY inside and outside BMX!
How Do I Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain From Riding BMX?
No matter the cause of your lower back pain, don’t neglect it; always treat it with care right away.
And if that means being off your bike for a little while, let it be that way. Trust me; you’ll thank yourself later.
But you can also try the following to reduce lower back pain:
- Do a proper warmup before your session
- Reduce the length of your session
- Make adjustments to your bike (so you’ll be in a more comfortable position)
- Visit a physiotherapist
- Apply ice or heat
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
During a rest day, you can also do 24-hour water fast (no, you won’t lose any muscle).
This way, your body can focus more on healing the injured area, not hours-long digestion processes.
How Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain In BMX?
The following tips may (and will) help you prevent lower back pain when riding BMX.
Note: Don’t treat the symptoms; treat the cause.
Strengthen Your Core
This is the NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT thing you should do weekly to prevent lower back pain – strengthen your core muscles.
Unfortunately, BMX won’t give you a six-pack. In fact, it doesn’t do too much to strengthen your core.
Thus, you must introduce a core-strengthening routine into your life to enjoy BMX lower-back pain-free.
There’s no way around this.
However, from what I found, doing the exercises 3-5 times a week for 10-20 minutes is enough.
You don’t need to work on your core for hours. But what is important is consistency.
My favorite core exercises are:
- Plank and side plank (forearm & extended arms)
- Russian twist
- Side bend
- Hollow hold
- Ab wheel (my favorite!)
- Leg raise
- Leg lift with hit tip (raising your hip is especially important)
- Hip dip
You can also do plank shoulder taps, which is also a great way to work on your shoulders.
Flexibility and mobility are the second most important things regarding reducing and eliminating lower back pain in BMX.
You will likely get injured much faster if your ligaments and muscles are tight.
A basic full-body stretch (or a yoga flow) for 20 minutes thrice a week will do magic.
And most importantly – SQUAT more!
While some think squatting is an exercise, it’s actually not. When you’re in a squat, you rest your lower back.
It becomes an exercise only because we are too tight to be in a squat for many minutes straight comfortably.
Lower Tire Pressure
If you ride 100PSI and your lower back is in pain, you might want to go down to 80 or even 60PSI.
Let your tires absorb as much of the impact as possible, so it doesn’t all go straight into your back.
For more on the topic, check my guide on the best BMX tire pressure.
Many riders complain that their lower back pain comes from being too hunched over. And many also say they fixed the issue simply by getting a taller handlebar.
I’m 5’11” and ride 10″ bars – and they feel THE BEST!
But if your bar feels great, another way of elevating your front end is by getting a top load BMX stem.
Stress is something rarely anyone talks about when it comes to lower back pain.
Your muscles will tense if you are under too much stress (regardless of the reason behind it).
This happens unconsciously, which can cause your muscles to contract for many hours straight (even while you sleep).
And because of this muscle tension, it’s the muscle that hurts, not the bone or the spine.
You can alleviate and eliminate lower back pain just by reducing stress and relaxing your muscles.
Just chill, stay calm and know everything will always be alright, dude!
Take Rest Days
No one can ride BMX every day, all the time. You need, and you MUST take rest days.
Your progression won’t slow down if you take one or two days off.
In fact, it can improve because your body will be rested and freshened up, ready for action.
You need to balance things out.
If none of the above helps and you continue to experience lower back pain, you need to seek professional help.
Maybe you will even need an X-ray or other imaging, but that’s on your doctor.
Listen to your body, and don’t try to be the “tough” dude because you can quickly become the “weak” dude.
Conclusion: Is It OK To Ride BMX With Lower Back Pain?
We all know what it means not to ride BMX because of an injury, so what I’ll say is probably not what your doctor will say.
If you are experiencing minor lower back pain that doesn’t get in the way of your riding, go for it.
You must implement the above strategies right away.
While working on your core muscles might show some positive results in about a month of regular and disciplined workouts, raising your front end (with a taller bar or a top load stem) can have an immediate impact.
Still, if your pain isn’t going away, or – HOPEFULLY not! – it’s getting worse, seek professional help.
But know that your age has very little to do with your lower back pain.
Let’s raise our horns to our healthy, strong and mobile lower backs!🤘