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Old 04-11-13, 03:16 PM   #1
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Back pain from bars up too high?

Anyone get low back pain if they ride with bars up too high?

I have been struggling with this for a while now, thinking it was the bike, then my setup, then me.
But I recently started riding again with the bars up high and I can feel lotsa road vibration going straight to my low back, resulting in soreness for the rest of the day.

Just wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them.

I seem to be sensitive to position changes, and was wondering if I am the only crazy one or if this really happens.
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Old 04-11-13, 04:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
...But I recently started riding again with the bars up high and I can feel lotsa road vibration going straight to my low back, resulting in soreness for the rest of the day...
Yes. It hurts my back just to see someone sitting upright on a bike. I prefer my bars low and find it much better for my back. In my case, that's the top of the bars 10.5 cm below the top of the saddle. They may be a bit much for you, but try lower if higher hasn't been working.
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Old 04-12-13, 08:28 PM   #3
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My experience is exactly the opposite. I rode for years with the bars four inches or so lower than the saddle, because that's what "they" said you should do. I was never completely comfortable. On the advice of a neighbor who's an orthopedic surgeon, I raised the bars so they're level with the saddle and instantly felt better.
From your description, you're getting shock through the seat tube directly to your back when you're upright. I may not feel that because I'm NOT upright--I still reach out to the bars, I just don't reach down to them..
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Old 04-13-13, 11:55 AM   #4
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Damp the vibration with softer hand grips (more spongy grips) and consider a gel seat cover. (I know not the best idea but will damp road vibes.)
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Old 04-13-13, 12:47 PM   #5
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Saddle with springs , and/or a suspension seat post will absorb road shocks to the Discs in your spine.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:22 AM   #6
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I'm also experiencing lower back pain when I ride and thought it was because the bars are too high. I have a CAAD8, its essentially stock, the only thing done to it was a new seat (Fizik Anteres VS), tires (Continental 4000S) and when I had my fitting they shortened the stem from 110mm to 100mm. I find myself on the drops probably more than I should just to stretch myself out, so this weekend I had the LBS flip the stem. I dont see any difference. Without taking any measurements I'm thinking the angles on the top/bottom of the stem were so symmetrical it barely made any difference. Are some stems more angled? Is there something else I should consider? I also know that I have about 3-4 rings under the stem - Can those be removed to get me down lower and does that sacrafice anything else?

Now, after reading this post I'm not even sure lowering it will help with the problem.. I dont think its vibration related - between the tires and my seat and the very smooth road I was on yesterday - I don't really feel any vibration at all. At one point early on I remember saying to myself it was probably the smoothest ride I've ever taken - verything felt so right with the bike.

The OP mentioned he feels his pain the rest of the day, with me once I'm off the bike and stretch myself out a bit it seems to go away shortly after, sometimes I'll just coast and lower myself to the drops or even stand myself straight up to stretch myself out a little and thats enough to make it go away for a bit. Today I feel perfect.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:32 AM   #7
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I thought lower back pain was due to the saddle not setup right. If you're sitting in a more upright position, you're putting more weight on your ass. Often times, that means you would need a wider saddle. I've had lower back pain before, even on a short 10 mile ride. But when I made the saddle parallel to the ground (or even leaning a little forward), I've never had back problem since. Yesterday, I rode 20 miles without padded shorts, no back pain other than the usual numbness you get with regular shorts.

So try adjusting your saddle. Your butt might not have enough support from the back.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:56 AM   #8
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I've found there are ranges of positions which work for me, and others which do not.
Upright on a Dutch type bike works.
A low position on a road, mountain, or hybrid works.
A 45 degree angle is one which does not. The weight is concentrated aft, but the spine isn't loaded at all vertically. This means that bumps and undulations are more strongly transmitted to my lower back. It's a recipe for pain.
Everyone has different positions which will work. It's up to you to isolate them. Try as many as you can.
Core strength is also important. The stronger you are, the more you can get away with.
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Old 04-21-13, 09:57 AM   #9
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You might also want to work on core strength, including your back.
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Old 04-21-13, 11:25 AM   #10
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Soreness for the rest of the day is something I wouldn't put up with.

If you're committed to riding and you're unable to adjust a conventional bike to suit your back, you might be one of the folks who benefit from a trip to a recumbent specific bike shop.
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Old 04-22-13, 03:35 PM   #11
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Putting the bars back to level with saddle top seems to have solved the problem. I am also using a sprung Brooks Flyer saddle which dampens road vibrations.
I am 175 lbs. and I can feel the saddle bounce a little when I hit big bumps in the road. Makes it feel like the shock is going out the bottom of the saddle instead on ricocheting back at me.
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Old 04-27-13, 05:22 PM   #12
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Lower the saddle a little at a time. If your hips are rocking, your saddle is too high and your back will hurt.
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