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Old 05-09-14, 09:20 PM   #1
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Those of you dealing with back pain...

Those of you who deal with lower back pain/discomfort, how are you training for long distance trips? What are your recovery methods after a workout?
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Old 05-09-14, 09:46 PM   #2
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I gave up riding drop bars..

Went to flat bar a few years ago and no more back issues..
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Old 05-10-14, 06:03 AM   #3
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Deadlifts and strength training has really made a huge difference for me. No more back pains or discomfort. I think majority of back pains are caused by weak core.
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Old 05-10-14, 11:28 AM   #4
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I gave up riding drop bars..

Went to flat bar a few years ago and no more back issues..
I do the opposite. I use drop bars -- or when I use flat bars I am still in pretty much the same forward leaning position. It takes the pressure off of my back.

If I am sitting in an upright position (like on a comfort bike), then all the stress and strain ends up on the spinal column trying to stay upright. But since I have a scoliosis (meaning my spine has a couple bends in it) that doesn't work well because the small muscles that support the spinal column take the strain and soon start to spasm...

As for exercises: core work such as Pilates is the only thing that helps. But I also find it equally important to stretch out my hips, lower back and upper back pretty much on a daily basis.

edit to add: The stretching and strengthening is critical -- but it must be done almost daily as a preventative rather than an after the fact remediation. After the muscles spasm and start squeezing on the nerves the only thing that works are drugs and medical procedures (like electrical stimulation)...

My personal belief is that MOST back problems are the result of poor conditioning. The spine in NOT a bone that supports your shoulders. It is just a stack of building block called vertebrae. It is the muscles and tendons that keep them stacked in line (or not!). Take care of the muscles and tendons and they will keep your vertebrae in line!

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Old 05-10-14, 12:02 PM   #5
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My personal belief is that MOST back problems are the result of poor conditioning. The spine in NOT a bone that supports your shoulders. It is just a stack of building block called vertebrae. It is the muscles and tendons that keep them stacked in line (or not!). Take care of the muscles and tendons and they will keep your vertebrae in line!
Good point. My chronic back pain has significantly dropped once I changed my workout routine (lots of core work, deadlifts, conditioning). I also added pretty regular massages. As you mentioned, take care of the muscles! Once they tighten up, that's pressure on the spine you done want/need.
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Old 05-11-14, 05:50 PM   #6
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I gave up and got a bent.
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Old 05-15-14, 05:39 PM   #7
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Core and spinal stability exercises. There are some good videos out there from Tom Danielsons Core book (can't remember name).

I'm just over a year post op from back surgery - core is now a religion and an enabler for me to do things like ride.
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Old 05-15-14, 06:27 PM   #8
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Nettle solved my lower back problem.....referred pain.
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Old 05-16-14, 03:52 PM   #9
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Deadlifts and strength training has really made a huge difference for me. No more back pains or discomfort. I think majority of back pains are caused by weak core.
Deadlifts are controversial at best for backs. I was doing them and the neurosurgeon who did my surgery and is a weight lifter told me in no uncertain terms to knock them off. He says they are too hard on the back.

On the other hand there are exercises that stretch the hamstrings and gluteals and strengthen the lower back that are quite effective.

Another effective tool is some type of balance device. Balance disk, hemisphere, balance ball. Try standing on the device a few minutes each day. When you can stand and balance for several minutes try bouncing a ball while doing it. When you can do that start passing a ball back and forth between two people. I saw two physical therapist types pass a basket ball back and forth, off the wall, bounce it, pass high, pass low, all while each was standing on a balance ball. Impressive to say the least.

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Old 05-16-14, 05:45 PM   #10
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I'm 68, have an age-related bad back which has everything wrong with it except a slipped disc, and I will never give up. Never Give Up! It's a simple mantra. Strength training at the gym helped me a lot. Specifically, leg sled, barbell squats, back machine, seated rows, Roman chair, and straight legged deadlifts (SLDL), these last done in strict form, high rep with lightish weights, only 1/3 my bodyweight.

Recently I've been using the Core Advantage book by Tom Danielson's strength trainer. That's even better than the gym. Not for wussies.

I ride a fairly aggressive drop bar position, bars below saddle, with no discomfort no matter the distance. A lot of it's training, the rest is position. These posts show and describe correct position for back, neck, and hand comfort:
Riding Position Discovery
Thumbs going dead on embarrassingly short rides

I prefer active recovery after a hard ride. For me that's about 45 minutes on my rollers, spinning easy in zone 1. Another recovery tool is a combination of Z1 and 2 minute one-legged pedaling intervals on my rollers. Because pedaling one-legged limits aerobic effort while giving the leg muscles great circulation (pump), it's actually an excellent recovery tool. Which I use depends on how destroyed I am.

Recovery nutrition has been discussed here ad infinitum.
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Old 05-17-14, 06:07 AM   #11
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Deadlifts are controversial at best for backs. I was doing them and the neurosurgeon who did my surgery and is a weight lifter told me in no uncertain terms to knock them off. He says they are too hard on the back.
Proper form and technique is very important when doing deadlifts. I think the reason why a lot of people injure themselves is because they are using weight which is way too heavy and they using a bad technique...Dead lifts is one of those exercises which requires a perfect form or else you risk serious injury... I think deadlifts should also be done alone and not mixed with other heavy compound exercises in the same workout, that way you will avoid straining your back too much. I would never do squats and deadlifts in the same workout since both of these are hard on the back, it's better to split them up on different days.
Once or twice per week ( one heavy and one light session) is plenty for deadlifts...Cyclists are not power lifters so there is no reason to go extremely heavy and break records, just use weight that you know you can handle comfortably without injuring yourself.
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Old 05-19-14, 02:09 PM   #12
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Deadlifts are controversial at best for backs. I was doing them and the neurosurgeon who did my surgery and is a weight lifter told me in no uncertain terms to knock them off. He says they are too hard on the back.
That is one ignorant neurosurgeon. Does he lift weights on machines ?
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Old 05-19-14, 03:49 PM   #13
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That is one ignorant neurosurgeon. Does he lift weights on machines ?
One of the many things that's wrong with my back (including a compression fracture) is that my discs have gotten thin. This happens to everyone, but it seems that it happens sooner to people who put a lot of compression load on their spines. Thinning discs cause pressure on the nerves which exit the spine and thus cause sciatica and a variety of other issues.

So I couldn't recommend going out and getting heavy with the spinal compression stuff. I still do squats, but never heavy. I go heavy on the leg sled, no compression. I think ordinary back exercises, such as are shown in Tom Danielson's book, are much more effective for relieving back pain and for stopping it from occurring in the future, or at least to a debilitating degree, and are more effective when recovering from very long hard rides than is hitting the weights.

Neurosurgeons are not usually described as ignorant. They deal with the aftermath.
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Old 05-19-14, 07:12 PM   #14
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I bought a "comfort hybrid" with an upright riding position to remove extra pressure from my back. On long rides, I will sit up straigh and ride with no hands for a few minutes each hour to give my back a break.
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Old 05-19-14, 09:14 PM   #15
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Stretching is a given. However for keeping the back strong hitting the gym is also very important as mentioned before

Kettlebell is one type exercise which will help with back problems. Most kettlebell exercises have a moderate to heavy emphasis on the back and kettlebell by nature of the moves increases flexibility and mobility and just opens things up quite nicely.

Body weight exercises are also a blast since they take many muscle groups at a time and usually target the core pretty well. Just a normal L-sit is something every cyclist should be able to do (can't do it yet, it's a tough exercise but hurts so good)

Squats are also good for glutes and lower back but many people get the technique wrong. It's a strangely challenging move especially for cyclists. It requires good hip flexibility in the area where cyclists usually don't have it so learning and stretching to a good squat technique can be really beneficial. Start with bodyweight and when that starts to go well move onto an empty bar or maybe two 12kg kettlebells. Add weight with progress
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Old 05-20-14, 08:11 AM   #16
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One of the many things that's wrong with my back (including a compression fracture) is that my discs have gotten thin. This happens to everyone, but it seems that it happens sooner to people who put a lot of compression load on their spines. Thinning discs cause pressure on the nerves which exit the spine and thus cause sciatica and a variety of other issues.
The situation you're describing responds well to more strength and more muscle mass supporting the spine instead of having all your weight supported by the discs.

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So I couldn't recommend going out and getting heavy with the spinal compression stuff. I still do squats, but never heavy. I go heavy on the leg sled, no compression. I think ordinary back exercises, such as are shown in Tom Danielson's book, are much more effective for relieving back pain and for stopping it from occurring in the future, or at least to a debilitating degree, and are more effective when recovering from very long hard rides than is hitting the weights.
You deadlift and squat whatever weight you can manage, slowly, with perfect form, have a balanced diet and proper recovery time. This is without a doubt better than not doing anything about it or turning to stupid **** like pilates, situps and back extensions.

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Neurosurgeons are not usually described as ignorant. They deal with the aftermath.
They should continue to do it as well as they do instead of commenting on areas they don't have any expertise in, i.e. strength.
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Old 05-20-14, 08:57 AM   #17
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The situation you're describing responds well to more strength and more muscle mass supporting the spine instead of having all your weight supported by the discs.

You deadlift and squat whatever weight you can manage, slowly, with perfect form, have a balanced diet and proper recovery time. This is without a doubt better than not doing anything about it or turning to stupid **** like pilates, situps and back extensions.

They should continue to do it as well as they do instead of commenting on areas they don't have any expertise in, i.e. strength.
You don't seem to understand vertebrate physiology or what core work is.

I've been lifting weights in gyms for 50 years, so I have some idea about how to do it. I work up to sledding 4 X bodyweight during the winter. At this time of the year in the PNW I'm more interested in training for pass climbs, centuries, and doubles with my wife on our tandem than in gym ratting. Intervals is what increases my ability to put sustainable watts on the road. Core work keeps me pain free on the bike. I find I'm faster if I weigh less. My wife thinks my back looks pretty good.
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Old 05-21-14, 10:36 AM   #18
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That is one ignorant neurosurgeon. Does he lift weights on machines ?
Yeah That's for sure. Anyone who has lifted properly can tell that Dead lifts are NOT a back exercise (unless done wrong) Yes there is some recuirtment of some lower back muscles (Erector Spinea) but that's mostly for stabilization. Same with Squats if you're feeling it in low back you're 1)doing it wrong,2)tired,3) too much weight.
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Old 05-22-14, 10:43 AM   #19
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I do the opposite. I use drop bars -- or when I use flat bars I am still in pretty much the same forward leaning position. It takes the pressure off of my back.

If I am sitting in an upright position (like on a comfort bike), then all the stress and strain ends up on the spinal column trying to stay upright. But since I have a scoliosis (meaning my spine has a couple bends in it) that doesn't work well because the small muscles that support the spinal column take the strain and soon start to spasm...

As for exercises: core work such as Pilates is the only thing that helps. But I also find it equally important to stretch out my hips, lower back and upper back pretty much on a daily basis.

edit to add: The stretching and strengthening is critical -- but it must be done almost daily as a preventative rather than an after the fact remediation. After the muscles spasm and start squeezing on the nerves the only thing that works are drugs and medical procedures (like electrical stimulation)...

My personal belief is that MOST back problems are the result of poor conditioning. The spine in NOT a bone that supports your shoulders. It is just a stack of building block called vertebrae. It is the muscles and tendons that keep them stacked in line (or not!). Take care of the muscles and tendons and they will keep your vertebrae in line!
Interesting thread here.
I have scoliosis problems too. I always had some problems with my thorax and back, and since a few years my hips got injured a lot of times.
At the hospital, they couldn't get a clear diagnose what problem it was. They talked about a little scoliosis, but send me to a physiotherapist who on his turn said I had piriformis syndrome in my hip.
Anyhow... bought myself some stretching books from Kit Laughlin: "Stretching and Flexibility" and "Overcoming neck and back pain". Very good books I can recommend everyone with the same issues.
Stretching is indeed such an important exercise.

I didn't think about this issue before when I bought my last bike for commuting. I have an old Dutch style comfort bike... probably the least good bike to ride with when having scoliosis problems.
Haven't used drop bars before.
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Old 05-22-14, 01:57 PM   #20
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Interesting thread here.
I have scoliosis problems too. I always had some problems with my thorax and back, and since a few years my hips got injured a lot of times.
At the hospital, they couldn't get a clear diagnose what problem it was. They talked about a little scoliosis, but send me to a physiotherapist who on his turn said I had piriformis syndrome in my hip.
Anyhow... bought myself some stretching books from Kit Laughlin: "Stretching and Flexibility" and "Overcoming neck and back pain". Very good books I can recommend everyone with the same issues.
Stretching is indeed such an important exercise.

I didn't think about this issue before when I bought my last bike for commuting. I have an old Dutch style comfort bike... probably the least good bike to ride with when having scoliosis problems.
Haven't used drop bars before.
That all makes sense to me...

There is a theory (which i believe) that most scoliosis that do not involve either deformed vertebra or neurological issues originate in the hips. Specifically, the spine uses the hips as its foundation and, if they are off-kilter, then it forces the spine to bend in order to compensate for the unlevel hips.

Before I was told I had a scoliosis, I was told that 'one leg is longer than the other'. It wasn't. But since my hips were not level, then one leg appeared to be longer.

And, most of my stretching involves my hip region -- especially on my right side. And, since becoming more active, especially with Pilates, I have learned that I have issues with the Piriforms as well -- which ties right in with the 'hip theory' of scoliosis.

It sounds like you are dealing with it well . Best of luck to you!
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Old 05-23-14, 04:45 AM   #21
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It sounds like you are dealing with it well . Best of luck to you!
Well, in the meantime, I know what the issues are.
But the problems are not solved, yet. I guess a deformed spine isn't easy to cure without surgery. At the moment it's not that bad, yet, so surgery is something for the far future if there is no other solution available.

Doing exercises and stretching are now the main focus to get me flexible again.

Wether the problem started in the hips or in the spine... or vice versa. I don't know which of these 2 started the war.
But I focus now on hip and back exercises too.
My hamstrings are very tight too, can't bend forward so far. My hips stay in 90 corner.

I actually only suffer from it when walking. Certainly when I do a city trip, after a half day saunter, I start to limp.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:23 AM   #22
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Well, in the meantime, I know what the issues are.
But the problems are not solved, yet. I guess a deformed spine isn't easy to cure without surgery. At the moment it's not that bad, yet, so surgery is something for the far future if there is no other solution available.

Doing exercises and stretching are now the main focus to get me flexible again.

Wether the problem started in the hips or in the spine... or vice versa. I don't know which of these 2 started the war.
But I focus now on hip and back exercises too.
My hamstrings are very tight too, can't bend forward so far. My hips stay in 90 corner.

I actually only suffer from it when walking. Certainly when I do a city trip, after a half day saunter, I start to limp.
Ideopathic scoliosis usually starts in childhood, pre-teen. It seems to be caused by a muscular imbalance in the muscles which support the spinal column. The problem is that the muscles on one side are lengthened and therefore weakened while the muscles on the other side are shortened and therefore strengthened. Thus the usual back exercises only make it worse because they don't work the longer and weaker muscles on the convex side as much as they do the straighter and stronger muscles on the concave side. Thus specialized exercises are necessary. This video illustrates some, probably as good as anything:
How to Correct a Scoliosis With Exercise and Stretching - Ed Paget - YouTube

Some therapists will have the subject hang from a bar and do similar exercises and stretches for the upper bend in that position. Anything that will shorten and strengthen the muscles only on the convex side of the spine will help.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:37 AM   #23
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Ideopathic scoliosis usually starts in childhood, pre-teen. It seems to be caused by a muscular imbalance in the muscles which support the spinal column. The problem is that the muscles on one side are lengthened and therefore weakened while the muscles on the other side are shortened and therefore strengthened. Thus the usual back exercises only make it worse because they don't work the longer and weaker muscles on the convex side as much as they do the straighter and stronger muscles on the concave side. Thus specialized exercises are necessary. This video illustrates some, probably as good as anything:
How to Correct a Scoliosis With Exercise and Stretching - Ed Paget - YouTube

Some therapists will have the subject hang from a bar and do similar exercises and stretches for the upper bend in that position. Anything that will shorten and strengthen the muscles only on the convex side of the spine will help.
Ok, thanks, will take a look at this video later on this evening at home, when I have time to practice along.
Never got into temptation before to search for scoliosis on youtube!
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Old 05-23-14, 10:42 AM   #24
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Ok, thanks, will take a look at this video later on this evening at home, when I have time to practice along.
Never got into temptation before to search for scoliosis on youtube!
Our 30 y.o. rabbi has scoliosis, so I've been interested in it for some time. She rides a lot. It's a tough one.
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Old 05-24-14, 08:36 AM   #25
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Ideopathic scoliosis usually starts in childhood, pre-teen. It seems to be caused by a muscular imbalance in the muscles which support the spinal column. The problem is that the muscles on one side are lengthened and therefore weakened while the muscles on the other side are shortened and therefore strengthened. Thus the usual back exercises only make it worse because they don't work the longer and weaker muscles on the convex side as much as they do the straighter and stronger muscles on the concave side. Thus specialized exercises are necessary. This video illustrates some, probably as good as anything:
How to Correct a Scoliosis With Exercise and Stretching - Ed Paget - YouTube

Some therapists will have the subject hang from a bar and do similar exercises and stretches for the upper bend in that position. Anything that will shorten and strengthen the muscles only on the convex side of the spine will help.
+1

But I would add that the Schroth method ("Three Dimensional Treatment for Scoliosis") believes that BOTH sides are weak -- that one is over-contracted and the other over-extended but that both are weak. And again, correcting the imbalances in the hips is a pre-requisite for correcting the spinal deformity.

For Bulevardi, the hips are especially implicated from his trouble walking: the tendon/muscle tightness in the hips is pulling on his spine and causing back pain.

For him, as probably for most with scoliosis, the scoliosis is not the problem, it is the result of their hip problems.

But, when you see an orthopedist for it, they tend to ignore any and all muscle tendon problems and focus strictly on the curved spinal column and tell the patient that the only solution is bracing and surgical. They will tell him that stretching and strengthening can sometimes alleviate pain but are worthless to solve the problem. Specifically, their position is that stretching and strengthening therapies "have not been shown to be effective". Actually, there have simply not been any conclusive RCTs to demonstrate it one way or the other. But then, they and their society (the "SRS" - Scoliosis Research Society) make their money from "fixing" backs through surgical means -- so that will be the "solution" that they push.

Last edited by GeorgeBMac; 05-24-14 at 08:40 AM.
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