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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-23-12, 12:24 PM   #1
The_DK
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Let's talk lower back pain strategies for cycling.

I messed my lower back up by screwing up a bent-over-row.
About the only activity I can do for more than 20 minutes is cycling.
I can't ride my road bike AT ALL.
The hybrid is OK... but after 20 minutes I start to ache so I have to frequently stop and stretch.

Anyone come up with clever ideas/techniques to avoid agitating a back injury while cycling?
Some kind of supportive wear maybe?

I'm out of the saddle now for any bump taller than a penny...
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Old 05-23-12, 12:45 PM   #2
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Have you had the bike fit to you?
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Old 05-23-12, 02:12 PM   #3
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I have osteoarthritis in my back plus after years of foolishness have caused damage to my lower spine... the only relief I get is cycling. I saw a surgeon (because of a cyst on my spine) about 4 years ago and he told me the best thing for a bad back was cycling. It has to do with the stretching of the spine and taking pressure off the various discs. Think about it, is pain is due to compressed discs, one method of relief is to take the pressure off.

Have you ever thought you aren't bending forward enough? An upright position will cause further compression to the spine. If you bend forward, even a bit, it takes the pressure off. Key is a proper fit so they pressure is not transferred too much to your hands and arms.

Go to someone who is certified to fit a bike and tell them you have a bad back. They should be able to help you.

Also Aleve and Tylenol should be your friends. Pop a couple of each before exercise and that should help.
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Old 05-23-12, 02:18 PM   #4
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I'm loosing weight. Currently, whenever I get near 270+ is when I get back pain.

What is weird is it is only when I would get to 270. 269.9 and everything would be fine.

Biking helps tremendously!
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Old 05-23-12, 02:28 PM   #5
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I've got two rods and six screws between L3,4, and 5 along with a bunch of other work (all three discs removed, fusions, grafts, decompressions, bone "shrapnel" cleaned out, scar tissue cleaned out, and spinal cord work) in that area. When I switched from a hybrid to a roadie it was causing some problems. For me, the fix was as simple as sliding my saddle back just a little bit to extend my reach. Once we figured that out, I went from feeling pretty severe discomfort after nine miles to going out the very next day and doing 30 miles pain free. The relief was literally over night.
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Old 05-23-12, 03:50 PM   #6
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My road bike was fit to me, and it hurts. My hybrid wasn't, and it doesn't.
Good to hear that it's a GOOD exercise for the bakc. If I had to give this up, I'd die of ennui.


Street, thanks. Maybe I'll monkey with my saddle position.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:28 PM   #7
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My road bike was fit to me, and it hurts. My hybrid wasn't, and it doesn't.
Good to hear that it's a GOOD exercise for the bakc. If I had to give this up, I'd die of ennui.


Street, thanks. Maybe I'll monkey with my saddle position.
Not all fittings are good... I had 6 before my last one. The one before was good and this last one was perfect. We have to remember that our riding style changes so one fitting doesn't always last. And remember if you mnkey with the saddle you have to also adjust the cleat and pedal position.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:31 PM   #8
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I'm going to schedule a new one with a different place I think.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:36 PM   #9
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And, of course, you could consider switching to a recumbent for a completely different riding position and view of things. That's what I did - first to a trike then back to a 2-wheeler. I now ride an Easy Racer Gold Rush Replica I found on eBay for $1000. Best cycling money I ever spent.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:41 PM   #10
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To expand on what Pam said, bring up any and all aches and pains you have on the bike you are getting the fit for before and during the fit if they occur after a change.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:42 PM   #11
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DK, you're welcome. I hope it gets you rolling again.
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Old 05-23-12, 04:45 PM   #12
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And remember if you mnkey with the saddle you have to also adjust the cleat and pedal position.

Not necessarily unless adjusting the saddle creates a problem with cleat/ pedal position. I adjusted the saddle and was good to go. The problem wasn't in my cleats.
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Old 05-24-12, 11:01 AM   #13
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Not necessarily unless adjusting the saddle creates a problem with cleat/ pedal position. I adjusted the saddle and was good to go. The problem wasn't in my cleats.
I had this problem personally... I shifted a saddle back and then started having knee problems. I needed to adjust the position of my cleat back as well I learned. What little I know is all of the positions - saddle height, disrtance from bars, cleat position on pedal, crank arm length, etc etc are all intertwined. It is so important to realize that something monkeying with one thing can throw everything else off. It's amazing how all this works together to make a comfortable ride and how on little thing can make the ride miserable!!!
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Old 05-24-12, 01:14 PM   #14
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I had this problem personally... I shifted a saddle back and then started having knee problems. I needed to adjust the position of my cleat back as well I learned. What little I know is all of the positions - saddle height, disrtance from bars, cleat position on pedal, crank arm length, etc etc are all intertwined. It is so important to realize that something monkeying with one thing can throw everything else off. It's amazing how all this works together to make a comfortable ride and how on little thing can make the ride miserable!!!
Then you're an example of exactly what I said. In adjusting your saddle, you created a problem with your knees so, in turn, had to adjust your cleat position. But to say that, every time you make one adjustment you have to adjust everything else, simply isn't so. If so, then any time someone adjusts a cleat position, they would have to adjust the saddle and then the stem, etc. Sometimes adjusting one means adjusting the other(s). But not necessarily. You don't adjust for a problem that doesn't exist.
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Old 05-24-12, 01:19 PM   #15
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You're dealing with an injury so you're just going to have to work around it until it heals. Sounds like you're doing all you can. Bike fit might help, but it might also be a "throw away" because once you're better you might need a new fit.

I once slipped a disc shoveling snow. Was in agony bending over to ride my road bike. I mitigated by throwing on a cheap FSA 17 degree stem (like $30) and put a couple of spacers under it.
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Old 05-24-12, 01:24 PM   #16
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I had lumbar back surgery about 5 months ago. I was advised that a road bike is not the best alternative. Bending over may temporarily relieve the pain, but what you are doing is relieving pressure on the back side of the spinal column, but you are transferring that pressure to the front side of the spinal column, so it is actually putting more pressure on the disk, which will cause it to protrude more and eventually herniate. I was advised to ride a hybrid, sit as upright as possible and ride a suspension saddle, to relieve some of the bumps, but also to force you to tighten muscles to stay on the saddle which causes them to improve in strength. Do not use a waist belt because this takes the place of muscle strength which will eventually cause muscles to weaken and increase the problem. FWIW.
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Old 05-24-12, 01:59 PM   #17
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I had lumbar back surgery about 5 months ago. I was advised that a road bike is not the best alternative. Bending over may temporarily relieve the pain, but what you are doing is relieving pressure on the back side of the spinal column, but you are transferring that pressure to the front side of the spinal column, so it is actually putting more pressure on the disk, which will cause it to protrude more and eventually herniate. I was advised to ride a hybrid, sit as upright as possible and ride a suspension saddle, to relieve some of the bumps, but also to force you to tighten muscles to stay on the saddle which causes them to improve in strength. Do not use a waist belt because this takes the place of muscle strength which will eventually cause muscles to weaken and increase the problem. FWIW.
I guess that's where I got lucky, if "lucky" is the word for it. All of my troublesome discs were removed. I started on a hybrid about 10 weeks Post-op and put about 5K miles on it. When I switched to a roadie last June and got the initial Fit issues tweaked it was a night and day improvement for me. I've got over 4K on this bike and haven't had any issues at all. The only problem I do have is from an extroseous screw. But, come to find out, it's not a result of the bike but a result of the screw being improperly placed. I think the difference for me came in the way that the roadie stretched me out and doesn't center all of my weight straight down through my spine. It actually feels good, physically, when I'm on the saddle. I should also add, though, that my bike is a relaxed geo road bike (Trek Madone 5.2 with H3 Geometry). But I can definitely understand what your Doc has told you.
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Old 05-24-12, 02:38 PM   #18
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Recumbent...either bike or trike. At the end of a long day riding, the only thing I am, is tired. Nothing hurts.
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Old 05-25-12, 12:01 PM   #19
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Recumbent...either bike or trike. At the end of a long day riding, the only thing I am, is tired. Nothing hurts.
Yes, for some this may be the only workable solution that allows them to cycle at all.
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