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Old 09-16-04, 01:27 PM   #1
geomyers
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Back Muscle Cramps/Soreness

I am brand new to cycling. I plan on doing my first triathalon next year. I just bought a LeMond road bike and when I ride more than about 4 miles, I start to get cramps in my middle back muscles. The further I ride, the worse it gets. Once I finish I have soreness for at least two to four days afterward. Is it likely that my posture is bad? Is this something that is likely to go away the more my body gets use to riding? I happen to be 67 years old but I don't think that is an issue. I regularly swim 1 1/2 miles and run/race walk 10K 2 to 3 times a week. Any thoughts about how I can fight this problem will be greatly appreciated. I have to be able to ride at least 18 miles without problems. Thanks
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Old 09-16-04, 06:27 PM   #2
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I can understand some muscle discomfort the day after cycling-but not discomfort that goes on for 2 or 3 days. If the doctor hasn't suggested any compressed discs in there-I am wondering if the facet joints aren't arcing up on you. You are so active-with the running and swimming-that big muscle groups are nice and limber-so-yes-I would wonder about posture. Can you get a check done on that?
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Old 09-16-04, 07:25 PM   #3
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it is most likely posture. one way to check your posture is to look at your shadow. just make sure you dont crash. what you should look for is a back that is a straight line. if it isn't a straight line, instead if it looks curved, then try to rotate your pelvis forward, and stick your belly out to the top tube. this should eliminate 90% of back pain. if it still doesn't go away, I'd recommend raising your barsto about level with your seat and stretch. doing a few hamstring stretches before getting on the bike can do a world of good for the lower back muscles.
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Old 09-16-04, 07:38 PM   #4
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go to your local bike shop and get fitted. i had both knee and back problems before i did this, and now i am pain free. proper fitting makes a world of difference
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Old 09-16-04, 09:29 PM   #5
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I'd suggest getting it checked out by the Doc because it does seem odd that the soreness would last so long, but I've had some success with raising the bars, and stretching my hammies and glutes.
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Old 09-17-04, 05:11 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I should know better than to go ride without warming up. I don't run without it. Perhaps some reasonable warmup, stretching and a posture check will do the trick. Thanks again.
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Old 09-18-04, 07:27 PM   #7
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I have strengthened my lower back muscles considerably by doing back extensions. I use a machine at the gym where you push back against a weighted lever arm while sitting down. The maximum weight is 300 pounds, and I do the 300 pounds (after warm up, of course) quite regularly.

This has helped my general lower back tremendously. I never had a problem while biking, but I did have a problem while walking of fairly noticeable lower back muscle pain.

Of course you can do back extensions in a lot of different ways besides machines.

ANyway, it has made a world of difference to me. I can feel the increase in size of those muscles with my hands. I also have better posture. Of course, I balance thss exercise with appropriate abdominal exercises, also.
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Old 09-14-08, 01:44 PM   #8
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I am almost always comfortable riding in the drops... Today's ride the wind was terrilbe. Some of the gusts, I thought I might have been blown over. So I really had a white nuckled ride with a firm grip on the handlebars. And I was riding low to the handlebars and rarely changing positions. So tonight my back really hurts. Not cramping, but surely tight. I just used my "Stick," to try and relax the back.. So my idea. Mabye your are just not relaxed enough when you ride. Or else your fit is not right.
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Old 09-14-08, 04:08 PM   #9
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First, get your bike fitted. Given your other activities, my guess is that you have a bike that is too big for you, as most with minor fit issues don't see problems until they ride for more than an hour. But a fit will tell you.

Second, if that doesn't help you, buy yourself a copy of Cyclo-Zen. There are back specific stretches and exercises there that will likely fix you up.
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Old 09-14-08, 04:10 PM   #10
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The other posts were fine, and may work for you. Excercises to strengthen your midsection are an especially good idea. But here is a classic piece of advice I always post when that question gets asked...

Raise Dat Stem!

by Bob Gordon

A flat back is one of the hallmarks of an experienced cyclist, particularly a racer, and over the years I have seen the prevailing attitudes towards rider positioning devolve to the point where if you don't cycle with your back parallel to the ground, you're cast off as a beginner.

But like many other concepts recreational riders adopt, the low back originated in the professional ranks after extensive research in aerodynamics proved this would help the fast go faster. Competitive athletes routinely sacrifice both their short and long term health for the express purpose of winning, but you may have a different agenda.

Lower back disc problems peak the ages of 30 and 50. There are many causes, but if your back pain is exacerbated by riding, it's a good bet the cause is bouncing around on your bike while your lower spine is extensively flexed (loss of lower back arch). A low, forward torso causes the inner portion of the disc (the nucleus purposes) to press back against the outer restraining fibers (the annulus fibroses). This pressure eventually causes the disc to bulge or herniate. The nearby nerves get squeezed, and the next thing you know, someone like me is telling you you have sciatica.

Cycling mitigates some of the problems of a habitually flexed lumbar spine because of the "bridge effect" that's created by resting some of your weight on your hands. But the lumbar region and its soft tissues are still at risk just by being continuously hyper flexed, and if you sit all day at your job, the danger is compounded.

On the flip side, cycling entirely upright does not solve the problem either. True, the inter-vertebral discs and spinal ligaments are in a more neutral position and absorb shock better, but the load is now transmitted axially, which is fatiguing and jarring. Also, in a bolt-upright position you can't use your gluteus or hamstrings to great advantage, which means your thighs (quadriceps) get overworked, you lose a lot of power, the unused hamstrings and gluteal muscles go flabby, and you catch all that wind. It's hard to be happy about all that, racer or no.

There is, however, a position that allows good performance while minimizing risk of lower back injury. I like a stem height and length that puts your back about 50 degrees from horizontal, while your arms and legs bend slightly at the elbows, as shown in figure 2 up there. To achieve this, you'll probably have to raise your bars, and assuming you want to keep the same bar style (as opposed to riding with stingray bars or something), that usually means getting another stem, one with a taller quill or a steep rise to it. If you hit the sweet spot, a photo of you from the side will reveal a nice pyramid composed of top tube, torso and arms.'
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