If you suffer from back problems, it might be difficult to find the right workouts and equipment to minimize your pain.
Lifting weights might seem impossible, and heavy cardio might seem like just a bit too much. But you are not alone.
(Cue Michael Jackson).
In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it was found that “more than 80 percent of Americans will experience an episode of low back pain at some time in their lives.”
And of the 80 percent of people who experience back pain, 38 percent claim it impacts how they exercise. Because of this, many stationary bikes have been developed with back pain sufferers in mind.
If that describes you, this buyer's guide should help you find the best exercise bike for back problems.
(First, a quick summary if you're in a hurry:)
What to look for in an exercise bike if you have back problems
Before you spend a hefty chunk of change on an exercise bike for your home gym, you’ll want to consider a few factors for the best back support possible. Especially, if like 80% of Americans, you have suffered or are currently suffering from back problems.
So, what should you look for?
A firm and comfortable backrest
Most likely a recumbent style (vs upright)
Step-through design to take pressure off of your back and knees
And a workout tracker, and/or the ability to create custom workouts
First and foremost, you're going to want to look for an exercise bike with a backrest. Even if you are someone who likes to lean forward while biking, this will at least give you the option of relieving pressure from your back while you exercise.
More specifically, you will probably want to look for an exercise bike with a recumbent style. Recumbent style exercise bikes have bucket seats a little lower to the ground with a backrest that leans backwards a bit. The angle of the backrest is meant to improve spinal posture and helps users with lower back problems.
While these are the two most important features for the best exercise bike for back problems, you might also want to consider an easy on/off design so that you don't have to strain yourself when getting on and off the seat of the bicycle. And you might want a bike with the ability to create custom workouts so that you know when it might be best to give you, and your back, a rest.
Now let's take a look at our top picks that fit this criteria.
Best Budget Exercise Bike for Back Problems: Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike
Overview: To start off, the Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike is a great option at a quality price. This bike is available with Prime shipping and has thousands of positive reviews. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, and it is a lightweight, sturdy option for your home gym. Some other notable qualities of this bike include:
Step-through design for easy on/off
8 levels of resistance
Why We Like It: If you're looking for a simple, basic exercise bike that still considers users with back problems, this one comes at a price that is hard to beat. It's super affordable, and it has all of your basics covered. It’s a recumbent style that will help to relieve back pressure and to improve posture when you're biking. Also, reviews mention that the seating is comfortable. The product description mentions the seat and backrest contains high-density foam that provides extra support of the back, and many reviews support this claim.
Potential Drawbacks: While this bike does come at a quality price, the lower price point leaves out a few desired features. For one, this bike does not contain customizable workouts. The included computer will track your time, speed, distance, and calories burned, but it does not come equipped with the customizable fitness programs of higher end bikes. Moreover, the bike only comes with 8 levels of resistance – which is far less than that of a higher end bike. So, if you're looking for a more intense, challenging workout, this bike might not be for you.
Best Mid-Range Exercise Bike for Back Problems: PROGEAR 555LXT Magnetic Tension Recumbent Bike
Overview: For just a slight increase in price we’ve included this PROGEAR Magnetic Tension Recumbent Bike on the list. This exercise bike also has tons of positive reviews and is available with Prime shipping. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds, and comes with a few more features than the first bike on our list:
Step-through design for easy on/off
14 levels of resistance
3 computer goal workout settings
Why We Like It: This bike is still incredibly affordable and comes equipped with many of the features you might want to look for in the best exercise bike for back problems. Like the Marcy, it's a recumbent style bike with padded seating to help improve posture and take pressure off of your back. Unlike the first bike this one has 14 levels of resistance for a more intense workout, and it comes with 3 computer goal workout settings. This way you will have more options for your workout.
This exercise bike also comes with an extended cushioned seat that is meant to accommodate a wide variety of different users. Lots of reviews mention the seat is comfortable and provides sufficient support for your back.
Potential Drawbacks: Even though this bike offers 3 computer goal workout settings, it still does not contain the customizable workout programs that a higher end bike would provide. Also, this bike has a lower weight capacity than many of its competitors, so it might not be as good of an option for someone a little larger. Furthermore, a few reviews mention that the bike is a little difficult to assemble. (However, there is an option for consumers to have the bike assembled for them at an additional price.)
Best High-End Exercise Bike for Back Problems: Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
Overview: Finally, if you are willing to spend more for a higher quality, top-notch exercise bike, the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is a great option for you. (And yes, it is available with Prime shipping.) The weight capacity for this bike is 325 pounds, and it offers plenty of options for your best workout possible. Some of the features of this bike include:
A Provided Backrest
Step-through design for easy on/off
25 levels of resistance
29 programs for customizable workouts
Why We Like It: Even though the Schwinn 270 is definitely more of an investment than the other two exercise bikes on this list, the features it comes with makes the price worth it. Not only does this bike have 25 levels of resistance, but it also has 29 workout programs to provide you with a huge variety of options for your workouts. You will have the ability to pick and choose which workouts are best for you and your back. What’s more, you can connect the bike to a fitness tracker app to give you a better idea of your workout progress.
Another aspect to take note of is that numerous reviews mention how quiet and unobtrusive the bike is. Also, there are many positive reviews from users with lower back pain who feel comfortable on this bike.
Potential Drawbacks: Honestly there are not too many drawbacks for this bike. Of course the price point is pretty up there – especially compared to the other two exercise bikes we’ve mentioned. Also, mixed in with positive reviews about the seating there are a few reviews that mention the seat is slightly uncomfortable. But you can always add some extra padding or cushions.
We know that back problems can make working out seem like a huge challenge.
But with the exercise bikes we’ve recommended above, we hope you will be able to find a bike that is easier on your back and that works for your needs. We’ve made sure that all three options were recumbent style bikes with comfortable seating and easy on/off designs so that no matter your budget, you can get a great (and safe!) workout.
Overall, I would suggest the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike if it fits your budget. Even though it's more expensive, the workout variety and customizable programs that come with it are truly unparalleled!