Bike users’ back and joint pain: A growing concern | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:08 AM, February 24, 2019

Bike users’ back and joint pain: A growing concern

Dhaka suffers from some of the worst traffic congestions in the world. There is a demand for more options for reliable, efficient and affordable ways to get to and from work, particularly around commuting routes underserved by public transport. This is where different  ride-sharing apps come into play.

Nowadays, we are getting lots of motor cycle users coming to take physiotherapy treatment in different hospitals and clinics with severe low back pain. Physiotherapy is the best treatment option for their treatment. A professional physiotherapist can treat his back pain but when he starts using motor cycle again the pain comes back. So ergonomic correction is coming in consideration.

Just like any other physically straining activity, motorcycle riding requires rest, care and precautions. If you ride for long periods of time without giving your body a break, you are likely to end up with an aching body and specifically, back pain.

A typical riding posture exerts the most amount of stress on the back. There are three factors which can determine your posture and the subsequent amount of pain you might experience.

             Motorcycle type

             Your body measurement

             Motorcycle parts

Motorcycle type

There are three basic types of motorcycles, commonly used by majority of riders. These include the standard, sports or the cruiser bike types. Each has a specific shape, with a particular body position, hand placement, feet position and room for adjustment. These factors determine your overall comfort level when riding.

Standard: A standard motorcycle is typically used as a touring bike or for dual sports. On a standard motorcycle, your body remains in an upright position and your feet are placed directly below your hands. The shoulders and elbows are in a comfortable position as they don’t extend. Since there is no hunch in your posture, this is perhaps the best position for longer distances. Make sure that you keep your shoulders neutral.

Cruiser: With the cruiser, your body remains in an upright position, with hands straight, arms only a little dropped and your feet, slightly ahead of you. Even though your legs will offer relatively less support to your back than with the standard motorcycle, your body will still remain reasonably upright. At higher speeds, however, there is an increased amount of pressure on the rider’s chest, as a result of which the rider must lean slightly forward to maintain control. This forced lean might cause undue strain on the lower back.

Sports: With sports motorcycle, your body will lean forward throughout the ride. At higher speeds, your torso will be supported by air pressure rushing in. But at lower speeds, your entire upper body will be supported by your wrists, and the extension of your lower spinal posture muscles. The rider’s body comes under great stress, with various parts at the risk of developing aches if the ride is too long. This is why long trips are not recommended on a sports motorcycle.

Your body measurements

Your body measurement, especially height and weight, will have a significant effect on how you sit on your bike and more importantly, the intensity of the strain your back experiences. If you are of above average height, you will stoop, causing pain in the back. It is therefore recommended that you raise the handlebars. If you are of a shorter height, your feet will cause pain in your back. In addition, for short people, since the controls will be slightly out of reach, this will make them lean forward, or worse, over-reach to gain access to the controls. Such a posture for a long period of time can cause back ache and even injury. Lowering your handlebars should offer some relief in this case. And if your feet don’t touch the ground easily, then see if you can raise the foot pegs a tad.

Motorcycle parts

If you prefer a comfortable motorcycle ride, you need to give a bit of thought to certain parts of your motorcycle such as handlebars, seats and foot pegs. These play an integral role in not only helping you avoid back pain, but also in ensuring that you do not end up developing chronic diseases related to poor posture. Here are the things you should keep in mind:

Handlebars: Motorcycle handlebars are not custom built for different body type or shapes. Therefore, there is hardly a motorcycle out there which perfectly suits its rider. To add to comfort and put less strain on the back, try changing the handlebar to a taller, shorter or wider version - whichever version you believe fits you best.

Seat: If you are not comfortable with your motorcycle’s seat, consider changing it with something that fits your body measurements better and offers a more relaxed riding experience.

Foot pegs: These are important in maintaining body posture and the right amount of pressure on the back.

Whatever your preferred riding posture, make sure you take appropriate steps to stay healthy and safe. Don’t forget to keep your wrists, shoulders, neck and lower back properly aligned. This will help reduce muscle fatigue.

Consult a physiotherapist

Don’t take unnecessary pain killer that can damage your kidneys. Specific exercises can help you get rid of some of the pain. Perform plank exercises to strengthen your core. Stretch your hamstrings and get in touch with a professional physiotherapist if you feel the need.


The writer is the In Charge, Physiotherapy Department, BRB Hospitals Ltd., Dhaka.


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