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  1. #1
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    back pain - solution?

    Hi there,

    I am commuting to work on a performance hybrid, with a backpack that has my laptop (5.5lbs), power adapter, case (1 lb), krypto bike lock, and lock cable in it. Sometimes I add this or that, but the added stuff is all light. For ex., a t-shirt or long sleeve pullover.

    Recently, I started having some back pain and it looks like one of my vertebrae has popped out a bit from my spine (outward, away from my back). I'm riding around 5mi each way and wondering if I can really attribute my back problems to this? Or maybe it's an overall problem that's been aggravated by cycling?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated... I wouldn't think that I could attribute the problem to cycling alone, but I suppose so. I really hate the way that my bike feels with panniers on it, so I am trying to avoid that.

    Thanks,
    r

  2. #2
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    I would recommend drop handlebars ASAP, and a visit to the chiropractor.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Doctor for sure. I'd recommend a rack and panniers, too. My back thanked me when I ditched the backpack and got a rack, both for increased comfort AND for less sweat.

  4. #4
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    i find that the more weight i can put on my hands, the better my back feels. a lot of people think that a more upright riding position is good for the back, but for me, just the opposite is true. i also ride with a backpack (but no heavy laptop or locks, just clothes, cell phone & wallet) because i like having the weight on me instead of the bike, but in your case, you might want to seriously consider going back to a rack and panniers if you absolutely have to lug around a laptop and heavy locks with you.

    i would suggest ditching the laptop if you can and just carry a small flash drive with any necessary files and documents you need to transport between your home and office computers.

    and yes, go to a doctor before the problem gets worse.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
    I would recommend drop handlebars ASAP, and a visit to the chiropractor.
    Or even better, a visit to an orthopedist with a sports medicine specialty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
    I would recommend drop handlebars ASAP, and a visit to the chiropractor.
    I did the chiro part... Thanks.
    Regarding the drop handlebars... Can I get them for a hybrid?

    Thanks,
    r

  7. #7
    Senior Member groovestew's Avatar
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    I'm a backpack guy too, but I ditched the laptop in a big hurry when I started cycle commuting. The problem with carrying a laptop in a backpack is that the laptop usually sits in a sleeve right next to your back, so the pack can't conform to the shape of your back. I got a much more ergonomic backpack, but it isn't laptop friendly, so I leave the laptop at work and find other ways to stay connected.

    So I'll echo what Steely Dan said: ditch the laptop (if at all possible), and see a doctor.

  8. #8
    Senior Member groovestew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reib View Post
    I did the chiro part... Thanks.
    Regarding the drop handlebars... Can I get them for a hybrid?

    Thanks,
    r
    Yes, check out the Hybrid forum (here's one thread on the subject)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    I am commuting to work on a performance hybrid, with a backpack that has my laptop (5.5lbs), power adapter, case (1 lb), krypto bike lock, and lock cable in it. Sometimes I add this or that, but the added stuff is all light. For ex., a t-shirt or long sleeve pullover.
    The problem is not the weight of the t-shirt or pullover but everything else you put it (the aggregate weight.) That's not a light backpack.


    Recently, I started having some back pain and it looks like one of my vertebrae has popped out a bit from my spine (outward, away from my back). I'm riding around 5mi each way and wondering if I can really attribute my back problems to this? Or maybe it's an overall problem that's been aggravated by cycling?
    Depends on how long you've been commuting on your bike. That much weight on your back could have very well aggravated a back situation that went unnoticed for years. I don't think the backpack is the issue, but the amount of weight in it. Try to lighten your back starting with your computer and U-lock. I like the idea of taking only the information you need on a flash drive. For your U-lock, there are adaptors you can buy to place it on your frame. Last but not least, definitely see a back specialist before it gets worse. If your back worsens you will not be able to enjoy cycling at all... well, unless you enjoy riding recumbents.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reib View Post
    I did the chiro part... Thanks.
    Consider seeing a real doctor.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ratell's Avatar
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    In addition to seeking medical advice and considering using a pannier I would consider doing yoga or some other exercise to build your core strength and flexibility. If your main exercise is biking you may be developing one group of muscles while doing nothing for the rest leading to imbalance.

    I had some leg and back pain that I saw the doctor twice for and did two rounds of physical therapy. That helped some. The doctor then encouraged yoga or consulting with a surgeon as the next step. Yoga has taken care of the problem.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratell View Post
    In addition to seeking medical advice and considering using a pannier I would consider doing yoga or some other exercise to build your core strength and flexibility. If your main exercise is biking you may be developing one group of muscles while doing nothing for the rest leading to imbalance.

    I had some leg and back pain that I saw the doctor twice for and did two rounds of physical therapy. That helped some. The doctor then encouraged yoga or consulting with a surgeon as the next step. Yoga has taken care of the problem.
    Ask your doctor for an Rx for a set of Arkels and a tubus rack.

    Also Tai Chi is a good alternative to Yoga. Great balance builder.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Titmawz's Avatar
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    get fitted to your bike. There are many factors that could be contributing to it. Ask someone that you might know that has a trainer and they could surely help you out =)

  14. #14
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    I am very much for yoga or pilates. I practice Pilates three times a week myself and it has worked wonders with my muscle-related back pain. Be careful, however, if you have a back injury like a dislocated vertebrae. I would get a back specialist to sign off on it. If you decide to try either yoga or pilates, make sure you advise your instructor of your situation from day 1. Some yoga studios offer classes for people with injuries. That's the way to go.
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    backpacks don't typically do that... poorly fitting bicycles can. I doubt your vertebrae is popping out, considering your spinal cord is inside it... you may have a cyst or something caused by the backpack or poor posture on the bicycle. Who knows, go get examined by a doctor who went to an actual medical school.

  16. #16
    Senior Member trestlehed's Avatar
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    Try riding a recumbent!
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  17. #17
    Senior Member bcbb_ben's Avatar
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    +1 to yoga or some sort of strengthening exercise.
    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    The problem is not the weight of the t-shirt or pullover but everything else you put it (the aggregate weight.) That's not a light backpack.
    Depends on how long you've been commuting on your bike. That much weight on your back could have very well aggravated a back situation that went unnoticed for years. I don't think the backpack is the issue, but the amount of weight in it. Try to lighten your back starting with your computer and U-lock. I like the idea of taking only the information you need on a flash drive. For your U-lock, there are adaptors you can buy to place it on your frame. Last but not least, definitely see a back specialist before it gets worse. If your back worsens you will not be able to enjoy cycling at all... well, unless you enjoy riding recumbents.
    Great point about the U-Lock. I had already been thinking about that yesterday and today I found the perfect place to put the adapter; right below my seat. W/ the pub transit and everything, I hate for it to be in the tri of the frame.
    So that takes almost 3lbs off. Yes!!

    Also, I am considering getting a lighter computer -- lighter by 2.5 lbs. It's probably worth mentioning that I don't have a specific computer to use at work, so I really do have to travel with it if I need to be somewhere.
    I think between those two alterations, I am going to be set.

    Thanks for the suggestions... I'm on my way!

    Best,
    r
    Last edited by reib; 03-09-11 at 07:49 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    backpacks don't typically do that... poorly fitting bicycles can. I doubt your vertebrae is popping out, considering your spinal cord is inside it... you may have a cyst or something caused by the backpack or poor posture on the bicycle. Who knows, go get examined by a doctor who went to an actual medical school.
    Actually, it *was* popping out.
    I saw the chiro and they affirmed it. It was simply dislodged a bit.
    Even still, they said it wasn't a huge deal. I was fitted for my bike when I bought it outright retail, so I have a hard time believing that it is the size, but possible.

    I also think that the handlebar solution might be a necessity for me.
    Not sure if it would be worth to retrofit a hybrid like that tho... I'll check into it. Would hate to have to buy a new bike just to have new handlebars. o_o

    r
    Last edited by reib; 03-09-11 at 07:44 PM.

  20. #20
    Daily Rider hairlessbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reib View Post
    Actually, it *was* popping out.
    I saw the chiro and they affirmed it. It was simply dislodged a bit.
    Even still, they said it wasn't a huge deal. I was fitted for my bike when I bought it outright retail, so I have a hard time believing that it is the size, but possible.

    I also think that the handlebar solution might be a necessity for me.
    Not sure if it would be worth to retrofit a hybrid like that tho... I'll check into it. Would hate to have to buy a new bike just to have new handlebars. o_o

    r
    Get a professional bike-fitting. Unless the shop you bought it from put you and your bike up on a trainer and spent about an hour or more on adjustments then you did not get a bike fitting. More like a bike estimation. I have been appalled at what most shops 'fit' riders on. I have had several friends get sold bikes that were way too small for them resulting in major knee problems. Seems as long as they need to get rid of it, it's going to fit you.

  21. #21
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    For most of my bikes, I like to have my handlebars 2 " above my seat. +1 for a pro bike fit.

  22. #22
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    I knew several guys that went to see a sports doctor for bulging discs problems. The Sports doctor had them go to therapy where they massage and push the disc back into place. Go see a doctor.

  23. #23
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    There could be numerous problems. First have someone check your riding position. Also have someone check out your posture. Also, do you do any strengthening core exercises?

    Your backpack may be the problem and not necessarily the weight. Are you able to cinch down the items so they don't bounce around? Does your backpack have a waist or sternum strap to keep it close to the body? Are the straps able to provide some suspension?

    I would also look into seeing a doctor to see if there is some underlying causes for your back problem. Does your chiropractor simply lay you down on a table and use their hands to determine if something is out of alignment? I say get an X-ray done.
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    bags and fit

    another consideration is using a messenger bag instead of a backpack. . .. packs usually ride higher on your back while messenger bags can be adjusted to move the load lower.
    agree with others about ensuring you're fit properly to your bike. Disagree that a proper fit takes more than an hour. .. . fine-tuned race fits, yes. Good fits for the rest can be done in far less time by folks who know what they're doing. Yes, sleazoid shops will put anyone on any bike to make a sale but decent shops take care of their customers because they want a longer term relationship instead of a one-off sale.

  25. #25
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reib View Post
    Hi there,

    I am commuting to work on a performance hybrid, with a backpack that has my laptop (5.5lbs), power adapter, case (1 lb), krypto bike lock, and lock cable in it. Sometimes I add this or that, but the added stuff is all light. For ex., a t-shirt or long sleeve pullover.

    Recently, I started having some back pain and it looks like one of my vertebrae has popped out a bit from my spine (outward, away from my back). I'm riding around 5mi each way and wondering if I can really attribute my back problems to this? Or maybe it's an overall problem that's been aggravated by cycling?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated... I wouldn't think that I could attribute the problem to cycling alone, but I suppose so. I really hate the way that my bike feels with panniers on it, so I am trying to avoid that.

    Thanks,
    r
    Get rid of the backpack, get a rack and panniers.

    Maybe work on the fit of the Hybrid. They usually have you sit upright like a military cadet, comfy for the first 1-2 miles, and a pain in the back for all the rest. Why? because all your weight is concentrated to your lower back, whenever you hit a bump, it'll go directly to this area. A curved spine will act like a suspension system and dampen these vibrations. Play with the length and height of the stem to get to this position or get another type of bars like maybe dropbars. It will add more positions so it would be an even more comfortable.

    Get a saddle and/or seatpost with springs so if you do sit upright sometimes, they will soft the road buzz some and save your bottom and back.
    Last edited by 531phile; 03-10-11 at 10:25 PM.

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