When going downhill on a mountain bike in the "attack position", after a while I get one-sided lower-back pain that forces me to stop. How can I determine if this is due to an incorrect position or just weak back muscles, without anyone experienced to guide me?


There is no doubt that my back is not strong enough.

The pain comes sooner if I stitch my butt out more, however, my understanding was that that is exactly the correct position.

The pain is on the opposite side to my forward foot. Is it perhaps better to train myself to use either feet forward instead of preferring one?

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    "There is no doubt that my back is not strong enough." This. You do not need that much to improve your core. Even doing 15/20 minutes of yoga every 2 days will do wonder (take your time, don't overstretch, no special equipment needed, you can do in pijama, minicobra and the likes, super beginner position you can learn them through youtube, I repeat myself: they will do wonder).
    – EarlGrey
    May 25, 2021 at 9:31
  • @EarlGrey Thanks. That's encouraging as it seems easier to fix than a bad position.
    – Matyuka
    May 25, 2021 at 9:32
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    There may be additional things, like half a cm shorter leg, different knees position and so on, but these are secondary, first build some core/elasticity with light gym/yoga, then you can go for the bad position. I can guarantee from personal experience and from my peers'experiences that you can have a bad position and a good "fitness"/back, but you cannot have a good position and a bad fitness/back...
    – EarlGrey
    May 25, 2021 at 10:37
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    @EarlGrey It does seem like you have the essential elements of an answer. If interested, here's a Bike Fit.com podcast about body asymmetry in cycling - caution that it's fairly long, but it shouldn't be too technical for an experienced cyclist. One takeaway is that many bike fitters may not be aware of physical asymmetry (e.g. Egan Bernal got away for a long time with uneven leg length!) blog.bikefit.com/…
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 25, 2021 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


Lower back pain is a problem for many of us. Strengthen your core with any exercise you like, plank, active plank, side plank etc.

I also duck under an imaginary lazer, bending at the hip to strengthen the lower back, that seems to help me a lot.


I'm don't think much of staments that any one position is “exactly the correct position”. Any position is wrong if you need to strain and stiffen yourself to keep it.

It's true that the “attack position” works well in a variety of riding situations, but there's no point keeping it all the time when there's not even something to attack in the trail! Especially for downhill, the more flexible&free you can move around the bike, the better. Do default to “attack” in doubt on technical bits, but then relax again.

Yes, occasionally switching what foot is forward also helps and is a good thing to practice, but many (most?) mountainbikers always coast with the strong foot forward, so this should really not be necessary.

Also, bike setup can make a lot of difference. Try raising the bars a bit, softer rear suspension (if you have) or plusher rear tyre. And clipping into the pedals has many small advantages, especially when it comes to riding more relaxed, because you won't need to spend effort just to keep the feet on the pedals.

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