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  1. #1
    Senior Member tahoe_girl's Avatar
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    Lower back aches

    Hi everyone.

    It has been a quite a long time since I posted last, but I am in dire need of some advice. I have been doing spin classes and/or my indoor trainer in the winter months. But, I have had the good fortune to go for some rides outdoors the past few weeks. The last 2 rides I have done in the recent weeks is right about 37 miles each. However, right around mile 30'ish, I am experiencing horrible lower bike aches. So much so that the pain runs down my legs. It was mentioned to me that my saddle may be too forward to the bars. Are there other factors that may contribute to this discomfort? I have been riding for the past few years and commute to work in the Summer months (average about 100 miles per week). But these last 2 rides have not been fully enjoyable. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    Maybe get a professional bike fit? Or possibly see a doctor?
    Anyway best of luck. The bike is everything joyful for me and
    I'm sure this is distressing for you.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

  3. #3
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Your saddle position is not set based on distance from the bars, it is positioned in relation to your BB and pedal stroke. The distance from saddle to bars is determined by your top tube length and stem length. If your saddle is in good position relative to your pedal stroke, don't move it back just to get a couple more cm to the bar. Get a longer stem. Also consider your stem height and angle. If you have lost some flexibility and core strength and/or gained a few pounds over winter you might actually have to raise your bars a bit by changing your stack or flipping your stem until you get stretched back out. Yeah, the "slam that stem" crowd will get their chamois in a bunch over that last statement, but you have to ride what is comfortable, not what looks cool. Do some lower back and ham stretches and core strengthening exercises to limber things up and keep them in place.

    Make sure you are rotating your pelvis forward rather than hunching you lower back to get aero as well. If the pain persists, gets worse, or the pain down your legs increases or your legs start to tingle or get numb, see a doctor to make sure you don't have a disk problem impinging nerves.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  4. #4
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    If you rode the same bike for comparable distances last year without back discomfort and nothing about the setup of the bike has changed since, chances are that the backaches are the consequence of going from sub-one-hour indoor exercise sessions (using a position different from the position on your road bike?) to over two hours on your outdoor rides.

    I went out on the bike yesterday for my first long ride (3 1/2 hours) of this year, and it would take less space to list what didn't hurt afterward than what did. It'd be best to start with short rides and gradually work back up to major miles, but where's the fun in that?

  5. #5
    Senior Member tahoe_girl's Avatar
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    Thanks so much everyone! This is going on my 2nd year with this same bike and I don't recall these back issues. I think the best course of action for the time being is to take it in to my LBS and make sure everything is ok with the fit. Being on the bike is my passion and I would hate for it to start being a painful experience.

    Happy Sunday!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tahoe_girl View Post
    Thanks so much everyone! This is going on my 2nd year with this same bike and I don't recall these back issues. I think the best course of action for the time being is to take it in to my LBS and make sure everything is ok with the fit. Being on the bike is my passion and I would hate for it to start being a painful experience.

    Happy Sunday!
    Given your history with the bike, it's clearly not a fit issue---it's an acclimation issue. Ride no more than an hour per ride for at least two rides/week. After a month or six weeks, you'll be able to do the longer rides you were accustomed to last year.

  7. #7
    Senior Member tahoe_girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
    Given your history with the bike, it's clearly not a fit issue---it's an acclimation issue. Ride no more than an hour per ride for at least two rides/week. After a month or six weeks, you'll be able to do the longer rides you were accustomed to last year.
    Thanks. I guess I was a bit eager getting back to my happy place. Steady does it I suppose

  8. #8
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    Your saddle position is not set based on distance from the bars, it is positioned in relation to your BB and pedal stroke. The distance from saddle to bars is determined by your top tube length and stem length. If your saddle is in good position relative to your pedal stroke, don't move it back just to get a couple more cm to the bar. Get a longer stem. Also consider your stem height and angle. If you have lost some flexibility and core strength and/or gained a few pounds over winter you might actually have to raise your bars a bit by changing your stack or flipping your stem until you get stretched back out. Yeah, the "slam that stem" crowd will get their chamois in a bunch over that last statement, but you have to ride what is comfortable, not what looks cool. Do some lower back and ham stretches and core strengthening exercises to limber things up and keep them in place.

    Make sure you are rotating your pelvis forward rather than hunching you lower back to get aero as well. If the pain persists, gets worse, or the pain down your legs increases or your legs start to tingle or get numb, see a doctor to make sure you don't have a disk problem impinging nerves.
    I tend to agree... Yes, it can be other things: disk problems or (maybe) fit problems -- but muscle and tendon issues seem most likely to me.

    Working on stretching and strengthening them may help. But not just 30 seconds before you get on the bike. Make it once or twice a day for 15, 30, 45 minutes... The best is to do it with a coach who can instruct on which exercises and how to do them. And, the best coach would probably be a Physical Therapist who can evaluate your body (she won't know blivets about bikes and fit) and design an effective program for you.

    But, don't mess around with it. You are clearly putting a strain on something or other and that can lead to more serious, long term problems.

    For ongoing maintenance after the problem is resolved, think about yoga or (especially) Pilates which can both stretch things as well as build better core strength.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Back aches are more usually a strength issue than a fit issue. Working your core is a lot more complicated than doing crunches, which no one should ever do, really. I do a good bit of weight work in the gym for my core, but way cheaper and more effective is simply to buy this book: Core Advantage and do the exercises regularly, starting from the first one. Flexibility is very important also. Good to do some stretching after a ride.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    I had a bad back ache last Fall and it motivated me to start doing regular stretches. I hate doing them but I found a trick:
    I do them while Im taking a hot shower! This trick has helped me keep doing the stretches for 6 months now and Im back pain free.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

  11. #11
    Senior Member tahoe_girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ursa Minor View Post
    I had a bad back ache last Fall and it motivated me to start doing regular stretches. I hate doing them but I found a trick:
    I do them while Im taking a hot shower! This trick has helped me keep doing the stretches for 6 months now and Im back pain free.

    Charlie

    Ohh, now that is a great ideal. Some way I have to get in the stretches, and the shower would kill 2 birds with one stone. Thanks for the tip

  12. #12
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    bike adjustment aside these 2 types of back massagers are great and I've gotten way more than my money's worth out of them

    Amazon.com: HoMedics HHP-350 Percussion Action Massager: Health & Personal Care

    mine doesn't have heat
    Amazon.com: Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Heat (Black): Health & Personal Care
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  13. #13
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    My guess: Seated hill climbing + bad bike posture + big gears can put a big workload on the lower back. You are probably using different muscles to climb than you did on the spin bike and they need some time to build back up.
    Ease back into climbing - easier grades, less elevation gain, and gear down.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tahoe_girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
    My guess: Seated hill climbing + bad bike posture + big gears can put a big workload on the lower back. You are probably using different muscles to climb than you did on the spin bike and they need some time to build back up.
    Ease back into climbing - easier grades, less elevation gain, and gear down.
    Great advice. Thanks!

  15. #15
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    It's difficult to impossible get a perfect position on a spinning bike, it's also completely unlike a real bike in relation to your spine and the restriction in lateral movement you get from something planted to the floor. I'd suggest slowly easing back into on the road biking and see how it goes.

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