This pilot study investigated the reliability of an inclinometer to assess lumbar spine angle in three different cycling positions, and explored the relationship between lumbar spine angle and riding position, anthropometry, bike measures and low back pain (LBP).

Cyclists were recruited from two cycle clubs. Anthropometric variables and bike set-up were measured before participants’ bikes were secured in a wind trainer. Cyclists then adopted three positions for riding, upright on the handlebars, on the brake levers and on the drops, according to a random allocation. The angle of the lumbar spine was measured, using an inclinometer, at zero minutes and after cyclists had completed 10 minutes of cycling.

Intra-measurer reliability for inclinometer use to measure lumbar spine angle in each position was excellent (ICC=0.97). The angle of the lumbar spine changed significantly over 10 minutes in the brake position (p=0.004). Lumbar spine angle at 10 minutes was significantly different between the brake and drop positions (p=0.018, p<0.05), and between upright and drop positions (p=0.012, p<0.05) Lumbar spine angle was not related to anthropometric measures. The change in lumbar spine angle varied from one degree of extension to 12 degrees of flexion, with increased flexion occurring in 95% of trials.

An inclinometer has excellent intra-measurer reliability to measure lumbar spine angle in cycling positions. Future research with a sample of 72 or more participants is required to determine if there is a significant relationship between LBP and lumbar spine angle in different cycling positions.