I am new to cycling and have recently started to bike to work.

The distance is about 20 kms each way and I find that by the end of it my lower back starts to hurt.

I do work at a desk job and I probably do already have a bad sitting posture; which I'm trying to correct.

I was wondering what is the proper posture to ride on a mountain bike comfortably for about 1 hour ride. Or if this lower back pain is due to my back simply not being strong enough to lift my upper body as I'm sitting on the bike.

I'm looking for rule of thumb tips such as your seat should be high enough so that your leg is just reaching the pedal at a full extension.


  • 3
    If the problem is your core strength, then be aware that many athletes do core work. You can Google the bird dog and dead bug bodyweight exercises, plus the cat-cow stretch. There are likely other exercises and stretches. If you are into strength sports, you could consider deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and similar.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 4 at 18:01
  • yeah I'll give that a try. I am already doing the stretches but I haven't done deadlifts in a few months. Probably strengthening the core would help. May 4 at 18:16
  • I don't claim this works, but one of my co-workers was sitting on a ball instead of a chair in order to improve core strength...
    – DavidW
    May 4 at 19:31
  • You back flexibility plays more part than strength, and the bike style and fit. Seat height in relation to handle bar height and width (wider bars make you torso lower. Best option is a professional bike fit.
    – mattnz
    May 4 at 21:13
  • Remember you can flex and stretch while riding - no need to stay in one position. Move around a bit.
    – Criggie
    May 4 at 21:17

If you're rocking your hips while pedalling then your saddle is too high relative to the pedals, for your leg length.

Raise your saddle until you do start rocking while riding, and then lower it a couple cm or an inch.

If you now can't reach the road with your foot when stopped, then you will need to lean the bike, or get off the saddle at a red light.

This is not specific to MTB, but having a saddle that high might make MTB riding less controllable. If you ride off road, lower your saddle again by a bit. Draw two lines on the seatpost to help find your heights when adjusting.

  • 2
    If you can put a foot on the ground while sitting in the saddle, the saddle is most likely too low.
    – Carel
    May 5 at 10:18
  • 1
    A good rule of thumb is that the leg should be fully extended with your heel on the pedal in the 6 o'clock position.
    – Michael
    May 5 at 15:51

It is not only position/posture on the bike that can cause lower back pain.

The core muscles create the foundation for generating power on the bike, and when these are not up to the job they can get sore quite quickly.

This can often happen when trying to push a large gear at low cadences (common for beginners and less fit riders on steep hills). Even for an experienced cyclist on a well fitting bike, a long day out in the hills can leave the lower back feeling just as tired as the legs.

  • Right! I was wondering about the mechanics of the movement and how the force gets transferred to figure out why my lower back muscles are getting sore first. And when I did try to pedal hard I noticed there is an 'arc' from the grip on the bar through my torso and finally down to the legs. May 5 at 15:48

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