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Thread: lower back pain

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    lower back pain

    I've been riding for a little over a week, not alot, up to about 30 miles a day, with a break inbetween. I've started to notice my lower back really giving me problems. Today I had to stop riding after only 13 miles because of it. I ride mostly with my hands on the drop down. When I get the lower back pain, I also feel like my shoulders are hunched over, if that makes any sense. I know a couple lower back stretches, and I'll try those, but does something like this indicate my seat is too high, handlebars too low etc? Thanks. I hate to stop riding for anything less than sheer exhaustion.

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    yes id say you aiming to ride to low, for your backs flexibility, try riding with higher handle bars for a bit, then lower them gradually

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    Do you stretch before you ride?

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    I don't stretch, I'll try tomorrow. I have to see if I can move my handlebar, im not sure that i can.

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    Stretching your legs, specifically your hamstrings and glutes, will help stretch your back too.
    Also, try moving your hands around a bit on the handlebars. Just changing your hand position a little can relieve some stress at other points in your body. With your hands on the hoods, your back gets several degrees of relief. And sitting up and riding no hands during a rest break can ease your back a lot.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    you may need to find a gym with a hyperextension station. Exercises
    to strengthen the midsection will help, crunches, hyperextension, etc.

    http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/html/rr_raisestem.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by late
    Hi,
    you may need to find a gym with a hyperextension station. Exercises
    to strengthen the midsection will help, crunches, hyperextension, etc.

    http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/html/rr_raisestem.html
    How flexible are yoru hamstrings? Can you touch your toes?
    Alot of back problems stem from tight hamstrings. The problem cyclists have is if your hammies are tight, you cant roll your pelvis forward, thus keeping your lower back in 'hunched' over position as opposed to a 'neutral' position. I am willing to put $10 down on the table and say; try yoga for a month and you wont have problems. Maybe longer if you really not flexible, but it does wonders for all those little aches and pains-

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    I'll double nickw's ten clams and say that yoga would be perfect for you. Or anybody.

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    I havn't stretched extensively since I played soccer a lot. I can touch my toes but can't hold it there for more than a few seconds. I rode today again (without stretching, I hadn't read your responses) and I got even worse pain in my back and I had to ride back very slowly. I noticed it worse when I would go over a bump or when I was pedalling in a very hard gear (which I like to do most of the time) The only way I could ease the pain a bit was to sit straight and arch my back backwards, but of course I couldn't go very fast doing that. I'll try stretching my hammys and everything else tomorrow before I go out. On the side of the road today I did touch my toes among other things and it seemed to alleviate it for a few minutes when I got back on, or it could have been that I just rested up. In any case, thanks.

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    Lots of stretching and warm-up before pushing hard will help make the most of what you have, but you might need more than that. The real bottom line is that your back-muscles are facing stronger loads than they're used to. With normal daily walking around and other upright sports, your back only has to support the weight of your upper-body. And since it's mostly vertical, the spine takes the load, not the back-muscles, which is only used to keep the upper-body upright.

    With cycling, your back is bent over and more of the upper-body's weight needs to be supported by the back-muscles. Imagine laying on your belly on the bed. Then slowly scoot your upper-body off the side while trying to keep it horizontal. Imagine having your entire upper-body off the side of the bed so that your waist is over the edge (just your legs on bed) , can you imagine the amount of force your back-muscles needs to exert to keep your upper-body horizontal and not drop over the edge?

    That's the same with cycling and even more. That's because not only does your back have to support your body's weight, it has to counteract the forces of your leg muscles as well. On each downstroke, your legs push your entire body upwards. You counteract that by pulling up on the bars and using your back muscles to force your body back down. Compare the size of your back muscles with the size of your leg muscles, and you'll see an imbalance.

    The solution? Strengthen your back muscles by 3-4x. Roman-chair exercises with back-lifts are the best. When you can do back-lifts while hanging onto a 25-30lb weight, your back will be strong enough to never, ever get sore again on the bike.
    Last edited by Mothra; 07-08-06 at 01:42 AM.

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    hmm i don't have access to a gym. I'll google alternatives that I can do with 2 20 pound barbells or my own body weight. But what you say makes total sense mothra. I've never really ridden in the past the way I have in the last week or so. I can feel the pain every time I pedal, for the reasons you stated, no doubt.

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    Another thing you can do is not pull on the bars. Relax your grip and wiggle all your fingers. You'll go slower and feel like your upper-body's jerking all over the place, but fight the urge to grip and pull on the bars. What you want to focus on instead is pedaling in smooth circles. Rather than one strong push on the downstroke per revolution, try to do even force all teh way around. The pull-back scraping-mud-off-your-feet motion will actually add substantial power to your stroke so you don't have to push so hard on teh downstroke. Practice riding one-legged for 2-3 minutes at a time, then switch legs. It'll teach your brain & muscles the firing-sequence needed to activate the dormant muscles. With a smooth stroke, you'll go faster and you won't need to pull on the back so much. Good luck!

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    A good lower back stretch is as follows: lie on the floor on your back, legs flat on the ground (standing position but lying down). Lift one leg and pull it towards your chest as far as is comfortable, then just a little bit further. then, maintaining the position, straighten the leg as much as possible. Repeat on the other leg, then with both legs at the same time. This will stretch your hamstrings and lower back. Just be careful to take your time and be gentil, or it could hurt your back further!
    Best of luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickw
    try yoga for a month and you wont have problems. Maybe longer if you really not flexible, but it does wonders for all those little aches and pains-
    Plus, it will strengthen your core, which will also help with back pain and general functional strength.

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    When I first starting riding, my back was killing me too. I did yoga for about three weeks and it really helped. I only did it AFTER I got off the bike, when I was fully warmed up. I do far more mileage now and my handlebars are lower than my seat, and I have NO pain now. Part of it is just getting back into shape. Our backs are probably the weakest set of muscles we have for their size. Just everyday stuff doesn't tax them much, but suddenly doing more exercise exposes the weakest parts of our bodies.

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    I might just have to try yoga. I stretched this morning, then rode just 7 miles and got off, stretched for a good 10 minutes, got on to ride back and my back hurt so much I had to pedal very slowly (17mph most of the way). I did try the two suggestions mothra had. I wasn't aware how much i pulled up on the handlebars, so I tried riding in a more relaxed position, with my palms resting on the top of my breaks and my fingers not holding onto anything. It isn't the best position for breaking, but it seemed more comfortable, and even if it doesn't help my back, I like it anyway. The other suggestion, to pedal more fluidly and with less mashing, was harder to accomodate. I tried for a bit to to pedal with either just my right or just my left. Anyway, I'll stretch like a madman tomorrow, then monday ill try to not ride to rest up. I should mention that I work in the kitchen of a restaurant so I am often bending over to get stuff. I try to squat instead of bend as much as I can, but I'm sure this contributes to my back problems.

    edit: I really am clueless about yoga. Can I do this alone at home.. I'm assuming its just a way to organize your stretching. Also, does anyone know of any good body weight exercises for your back. Thanks for that stretch glassy, I used to do that and I can feel it stretching that area, now if only my back wouldn't quit on me every ride. And I'm only 18, imagine when I'm 40.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    you can do a lot with an exercise ball. Get a good one. If yoou can anchor
    your feet under something of the right height, you can even do a partial hypextension.

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    ncr
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mothra
    Lots of stretching and warm-up before pushing hard will help make the most of what you have, but you might need more than that. The real bottom line is that your back-muscles are facing stronger loads than they're used to. With normal daily walking around and other upright sports, your back only has to support the weight of your upper-body. And since it's mostly vertical, the spine takes the load, not the back-muscles, which is only used to keep the upper-body upright.

    With cycling, your back is bent over and more of the upper-body's weight needs to be supported by the back-muscles. Imagine laying on your belly on the bed. Then slowly scoot your upper-body off the side while trying to keep it horizontal. Imagine having your entire upper-body off the side of the bed so that your waist is over the edge (just your legs on bed) , can you imagine the amount of force your back-muscles needs to exert to keep your upper-body horizontal and not drop over the edge?

    That's the same with cycling and even more. That's because not only does your back have to support your body's weight, it has to counteract the forces of your leg muscles as well. On each downstroke, your legs push your entire body upwards. You counteract that by pulling up on the bars and using your back muscles to force your body back down. Compare the size of your back muscles with the size of your leg muscles, and you'll see an imbalance.
    To add to what you have stated above, the lower back is put under most stress if strain is placed on it when one is in a seated leaning forward position as in the seated racing cycling position and is aggravated further by rough road surfaces. There is a special powerful linear pedalling style in which the arms are used in addition to the hips/legs when generating the pedal power, the working arms support all upper body weight while the hips and working arms supply all pedalling resistance leaving the lower back in a relaxed state even when turning the highest gears. Anquetil used this technique, what a pity the experts ignored it. Pedalling and lifting weights have a lot in common where the lower back is concerned, there is a safe and dangerous way of doing both.

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