exercises to strengthen mid and lower back

So I’m getting skilled enough to torque my back good and proper climbing hills and powering through sand, grass, mud, and snow. Consequently my back is complaining. Both my lower back/lumber region and my mid-back are complaining. The mid-back thing seems very much a muscular/soft tissue kind of thing which I need to compensate for with exercises. The lower back pain seems a bit more suspicious in that it feels like a different kind of pain than the mid-back. Nevertheless the first attempt should be to strengthen the musculature and ligaments in that area.

Can anyone recommend a back exercise protocol, website, manual, set of exercises, etc., etc.?



I do not know where your riding skills are but if you can start working on SIF (seat in front) you will be amazed how much it works your core. Since I made a commitment to SIF this year my core has strengthened up better then any other exercise I have ever done. Now if I would give up the M&M’s and the Ice cold bear my waist line would shrink I am sure. :astonished: But that probably is not gonna happen:D

I’m pretty sure, bear tastes better when it’s warm and roasted and not frozen solid :smiley:

LOL spelling was never my best subject.:o

I’ve had this - I used a tennis ball and led on it with my back on top of the tennis ball to roller the painful muscles either side of my low back - did stretching after that.

The unicycling you are doing is obviously doing the strengthening because it is making you ache.

Remember to have enough rest after a hard workout.


Yes, but apparently in a way that my back no likey.

Remember to have enough rest after a hard workout.

Yes, that is definitely part of the strategy, and one that is too often ignored. So much to master, so little time…

I’m sorry to hear about your back pain and I agree that you have to let it heal before you go out riding, again.

From your OP, it sounds like you are getting more aggressive with your riding and exerting more torque to the pedals. Did the pain start when you started applying more power to the pedals? Are you involved in any other activity that may be causing the pain?

Your lower back pain may be a result of your riding position and saddle height. Have you tried raising your saddle so that you are sitting higher with your leg slightly bent at the knee when you are in the 6 o’clock position. Also, sitting up straight instead of slouched may also help. Have someone take a picture of your riding posture and see what you look like. You may be surprised. After you back heals, try short rides with a focus on your body alignment and strengthening your core mucles.

Check out these threads below:

Maybe if we just peddle faster we could master more. :slight_smile:

Be well and stay strong.

I agree with DaUniGuy. Learn SIF. If nothing else, it will cause you to use different muscle groups while riding, giving your sore lower back some relief.

When I learned to pull up on the seat, that seemed to relieve a lot of the pressure on my lower back while climbing. Occasionally I climb hills without holding the seat (for the sake of variety), and I feel my lower back working extra hard to spin the pedals in this position. In particular, pedaling uphill through the 6:00/12:00 position is harder on the lower back during seat-in riding. I’m sketchy on the physics, but SIF allows me to throw my entire weight and momentum into parts of the pedal stroke. I ride with the seat very high, giving me a limited range of motion during seat-in riding; I do most technical things (at my modest level) with the seat out in front.

I stressed my lower back learning to idle on a 26" muni. Later, I got a 20" freestyle, and idling was no longer painful. I feel more tension in my lower back when riding on shorter cranks; it takes more torque to start and stop them. You could try experimenting with longer cranks or a smaller wheel.

When I started riding / learning SIF, unicycling changed from a lower-body exercise to a lower-and-upper-body exercise. It has helped put balance into my hips. Stress happens sometimes when there is a lack of freedom of motion in a certain part of the body. SIF may help you move, rather than exert, the muscles in your lower back.

Good luck!


I’ll do it! :slight_smile: I need to improve my hops anyway… And like you I prefer my seat where my legs are extended so SIF will be a necessary position for getting up obstacles. Something new to work on–Cool. :wink:

Be patient learning SIF. There are many incremental steps to SIF. Grabbing the seat handle. Switching hands. Pulling the seat out. Mounting into SIF. Etc. Try balancing with your elbows out. That will get your hands closer to the seat. Learning to hold the seat in front with one hand can be stressful on the forearm. Work toward getting both hands on the seat.

What helped me the most starting SIF was to just ride standing up squeezing the saddle with my thighs. Then relax the thighs and try holding the handle with one hand, then the other then both. Once you are comfortable with that start pulling out the seat. It took me awhile and I still do not have much endurance doing it so be patient.

And to your original question about lower back pain I forgot about this. My kickboxing instructor recommended one of these when I first started with him a few years back and was having trouble with my back. I think it just keeps the muscles warm and provide a little support and it really helped me. I used to wear it all the time when I first got back into riding.

Couple of these. They’re a good bit harder than they look, so one may want to invent easier variants first.