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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-15-08, 04:36 PM   #1
cupcrazy4
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lower back pain with heavy backpack

I've just started commuting (only 3 days so far, ~30km RT) and I'm using my backpack to carry my school books, lunch, and other stuff to and from class.

I've been noticing a lot of lower back pain while wearing the bag (the bag is fairly heavy). Will buying a messenger bag solve this problem? Or is it a bike fit problem?

thanks
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Old 04-15-08, 04:42 PM   #2
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http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/404174-lower-back-pain-ugh.html#post6459416

back pain is almost always one of two things

mostly

poor core strength - do plank exercises every day and that should solve your problem reasonably quickly.





sometimes

handlebar reach is too long - buy either a shorter, higher angle stem or even an adjustable one while you're trying to find a comfortable position.
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Old 04-15-08, 05:13 PM   #3
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Get a rack and panniers
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Old 04-15-08, 05:30 PM   #4
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Backpacks suck They are not designed to be worn on bikes! I always end up in severe pain when I try carrying a pack while biking.

A rack and pannier system as another poster says, or even a big crate-type thing ziptied to a rear rack to hold your backpack, should solve the problem.

(Basic rack is usually about $15; paired panniers start at $20.)
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Old 04-15-08, 07:25 PM   #5
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Get a rack and panniers
+1
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Old 04-15-08, 07:33 PM   #6
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If you insist on a backpack, try one of these
http://bbpbags.com/
I use one when I carry my laptop.
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Old 04-15-08, 08:32 PM   #7
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After getting panniers I will never go back to a backpack!! No back pain and I love my rides!!! P.S. I'm a college student, trust me I went through that B.S.
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Old 04-15-08, 08:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markhr View Post
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?p=6459416

back pain is almost always one of two things

mostly

poor core strength - do plank exercises every day and that should solve your problem reasonably quickly.
+1

Best advice. If you do these exercises now, and pack in your ab muscles, you'll have far less problems (like I do) later when you are 40 or 50.
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Old 04-15-08, 08:57 PM   #9
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I am using a rack with a rack pack. It has velcro straps to secure it to the rack and it is roomy enough to carry what I need. Also it has a shouder strap which is nice if I want to take it off and take it along. It has a loop for a rear blinkie light, too.
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Old 04-16-08, 05:30 AM   #10
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I don't believe those exercises will work. I am a weight lifter and i'm 20 and still had back problems when carrying a backpack!! In all honesty if you really want to save your back then use panniers. You will feel so much better if you get them. Backpacks are just too hard on the back.
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Old 04-16-08, 05:44 AM   #11
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I don't believe those exercises will work. I am a weight lifter and i'm 20 and still had back problems when carrying a backpack!! In all honesty if you really want to save your back then use panniers. You will feel so much better if you get them. Backpacks are just too hard on the back.
Have you tried core strength exercises, combined with stretching, for any length of time?

Weight lifting, especially if you wear a belt, can compound the weakness as you tend to push out against the belt rather than suck in to stabilise. Also, quite often weightlifters, by neglecting stretching and flexibility, compounded the old tight hip flexors and tight lower back causing the "weight lifter waddle" and resulting back problems.

I used to lift weights religiously and only once I focused on core strength and stretching 3-4 times a week did my back pain disappear almost completely. Before that I'd always assumed that just doing situps, crunches and flutter kicks would be enough - how wrong was I. Focusing on good form, slow movements and sucking in gut muscles every exercise did more for me in a few months than years of lifting.

Backpacks have very little to do with it and, even with my scoliosis, core strength almost everything 999/1000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoliosis - always take wiki-let's make crap up-pedia with a massive pinch of salt
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Old 04-16-08, 06:03 AM   #12
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I carray a back pack, unfortunately the pain will persist until you become stronger.

Another suggestion is to get the pannier rack and just put your stuff into them.
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Old 04-16-08, 07:30 AM   #13
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I would strongly suggest rack panniers. Backpacks are good for smaller distances, but for longer distances, I think panniers are the best bet. Because in warm weather you would get very sweaty, and it is just not comfortable to ride with backpack in my opinion.

Ofcourse you could try to get the core and lower back stronger with some core excercises like crunches, situps, and deadlifts etc. Also if you are carrying the backpack on bike, try to keep the core tight and take the weight by core rather than by back. Its very tricky and you have to put concious effort to do that.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:20 AM   #14
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For what it sounds like your carrying, a backpack is a poor choice, especially if its a run of the mill version. Additionally, the load is probably not well distributed in the pack, the heavy items are most likely sitting at the bottom.

A higher quality pack would give you better load distribution but would actually be poorly suited for riding. I'd look at breaking down your load, moving the heavier items to baskets or racks. Depending on what you really want to do, you can get some seatpost type racks and then come up with your own method of stashing books on it.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:19 AM   #15
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If you bike can accept it, get a rack and panniers. Let the bike carry the weight. Or as others suggest, attach a basket to the rack and throw your backpack in it.
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Old 04-16-08, 10:17 AM   #16
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I agree with those blaming your muscles. Getting rack / pannier will definitely help you, but so will strengthening your back. I personally prefer messenger bag to a backpack, but if you have a back pain with backpack, you will surely have one with a messenger bag, IMHO.

Bike fit may be to blame (too long reach) - try riding your bike without anything on your back. No pain = no problem with fit, pain = fit might be a reason for your pain (but then again, it might not be the only one).

HTH
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Old 04-16-08, 10:41 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by kmac27 View Post
I don't believe those exercises will work. I am a weight lifter and i'm 20 and still had back problems when carrying a backpack!! In all honesty if you really want to save your back then use panniers. You will feel so much better if you get them. Backpacks are just too hard on the back.
Exercises are still good, core-strength is good. But don't tax it w/ a backpack or shoulderbag, do the exercises *and* get a rack and panniers or milkcrate.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:15 PM   #18
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Have you tried core strength exercises, combined with stretching, for any length of time?
Personally I do core exercises and practice yoga 5+ times a week and a backpack will still make my back hurt after a decent ride. Plus, they make my lower back too sweaty. For me, a rack and a bag is the way to go.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:20 PM   #19
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Old 04-16-08, 12:24 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by cupcrazy4 View Post
I've just started commuting (only 3 days so far, ~30km RT) and I'm using my backpack to carry my school books, lunch, and other stuff to and from class.

I've been noticing a lot of lower back pain while wearing the bag (the bag is fairly heavy). Will buying a messenger bag solve this problem? Or is it a bike fit problem?

thanks
A backpack is for use when you have run out of pannier and rack space and only for short distances (or with frequent stops to rest.)
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Old 04-16-08, 04:55 PM   #21
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Most likely the bag is not the culprit, but more likely it's the position of your lower back. A cycling crouch=the worst slouch you could do in a regular chair, but for a prolonged period of time. Markhr is right that core exercises probably would help. Also, try to keep a bit more tension in your abs when riding and improve your posture a bit, meaning don't round your lower back out quite so much.

Bike fit may also be an issue. If you're riding a road bike and your pain is persistent, riding something a bit more upright (a hybrid) may be the only thing to keep you in the saddle day in and out.
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Old 04-17-08, 05:48 PM   #22
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I would suggest that you both get a bike rack and get a professional to help you adjust the fit of your bike. There are lots of good racks and bags, but you may be best with a strong wire basket that you can put your back pack in then easily carry it to class. Good luck!
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Old 04-17-08, 06:12 PM   #23
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Old 04-17-08, 08:10 PM   #24
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I used to ride with my backpack until I started having pain in my shoulders and back, along with sweaty back, after a 10-mile ride. I have since switched to a touring bike with bar ends and I bought a messenger bag. I still get a small sweaty patch on my back and moderately sore shoulder but it is better. I find a rack and panniers to be the least uncomfortable, but they make the bike less responsive in an urban environment and add quite a bit of weight. I still use a rack if I have to fetch anything heavy. Books and a laptop are heavy items that I don't want on my back. I use the messenger back just for my clothes, cellphone, headphones and mp3 player. A benefit of the backpack or messenger bag is back and shoulder protection is the event of a crash. Just the other day I crashed hard at high speed, flew over the handlebar and landed on my shoulder and back. Lucky for me, the backpack took most of the impact (ripped to shreds) or I would've ended up with much more than a bruise on my shoulder and a cracked collarbone.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:26 PM   #25
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Anyone ever tried the Sherpa backpack support referred to half way down this page:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/tout-terrain.asp

Failing that, if you want to take a backpack with you, put a pannier rack and wire basket on. It's much more convenient than panniers if you have to carry the stuff around with you on foot.

Steve
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