Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Sore Back

Old 06-13-22, 01:32 PM
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Sore Back

Have you experienced a sore back (mid to lower) that you've attributed to a particularly bumpy gravel ride, or in general?

I've been riding the gravel roads/trails in my area for years and my back hasn't given me any grief. I'm getting older though, and perhaps combined with another trigger, I've experienced some tight back muscles that do get sore (5 out of 10) very recently.

Before you ask/suggest:
- I'm using tubeless and pretty low pressure when I know I'm on gravel; overall the rides are enjoyable and I'm not noticing discomfort on the ride, even though I hit some potholes and washboard time to time (might be affecting me afterwards though)
- I stretch, do yoga, swim, use a hot tub occasionally
- I have many routes I can safely ride (many paved) and thus I'm not looking to add suspension

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Old 06-13-22, 05:57 PM
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get a massage? if you can get a lightweight masseuse kneel on your back, that's pretty amazing
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Old 06-13-22, 07:32 PM
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I’ve had good results over the years with a chiropracter, admittedly for more serious pain. I wracked my back up several years ago from a combo of a foam-roller-gone-wrong followed by the bad decision to go bowling; boy, that was bad. It has been periodically bad ever since, usually with episodes brought on by shoveling in the winter and car washing in the spring. A few weeks at Dr. Dehr’s Performance Health Chiropractic here in Ann Arbor, and I’m good again…at least that’s been the recipe the past three or four years. I think it’s quite affordable, particularly for medical care, and would recommend it to pretty much anyone. I’ve not done preventative care yet, but I’m considering it now since the injuries seem to be quite predictable, as I mentioned, so if I can reduce the severity and speed up recovery with a visit every couple of months throughout the year, that would be worthwhile. As it is, only going in after the back is jacked, it’s twice a week for three or four weeks, tapering to once weekly for another two or three; not bad. I mean, the regimen isn’t bad, but the initial back pain which takes me in is, so I’d like to reduce that (if not eliminate it through regular maintenance spine adjustments.)
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Old 06-13-22, 10:04 PM
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you're not giving up much info... not that we know what we're talkin about... LOL!
... so it's post-ride?... Ibuprofen
if it's persistent, then it's time to review the whole/everything enchilada.
you haven't said what you consider 'getting older'... aging is weird, things happen suddenly, when they didn;t happen before... one expects a gradual decline, but what happens is disruptions are sudden.
the effort to 'maintain' becomes greater, harder, need for more frequency, and yet we all eventually 'slide' - just depends on when an how steep the slope
areas of vulnerability surface quicker
if you're regular enough with yoga, stretching, then look at physio/kinesio irregularities...
actually figuring out what has happened and what might be the reasons are great for your cognitive endurance, like crossword puzzles, chess, sudoku... LOL!
Thanks for your thread! It's has remined me (once more) I've been sliding on my yoga, strength work, stretching, and meditation... I am weak... ... but I'm also stubborn....
on the lighter side...

say it isn't so !!!

Struggle on
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Old 06-14-22, 12:07 PM
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I'm not sure if this is helpful or not, but I find that on the gravel bike, I tend to ride bigger gears with a lower cadence (70-80 instead of 85-90ish) because it tends to make bumpy roads more comfortable. I guess the theory is that it puts weight on your feet and off of your hands and butt, though its not something I intentionally do, it just sortof happens. Anyways, the higher pedal force means that my back/core has to work harder to brace against my legs and I end up with a pretty tired/sore lower back towards the end of a long climb-y gravel ride.
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Old 06-14-22, 08:52 PM
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You probably know this, but a lot of back pain can be reduced by strengthening your core; it’s especially true as you age.
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Old 06-15-22, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut
I've been riding the gravel roads/trails in my area for years and my back hasn't given me any grief. I'm getting older though, and perhaps combined with another trigger, I've experienced some tight back muscles that do get sore (5 out of 10) very recently.
A simple fix is simply back off your efforts on bumpy rides. Slow down a bit. It takes significantly more effort to maintain the same speed over a bumpy road vs a smooth one. Getting older will factor in.

If you really want to ride at your usual speed, then pick a much smoother road to ride on. Another option is get another gravel bike that can fit even wider set of tires.

Another simple fix if haven't done already is recovery if you're riding everyday or have a relatively high volume of rides per week.
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Old 06-16-22, 07:33 AM
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Core strengthening, hamstring stretching, and addressing fit/posture on the bike all made a difference for my lower back.

But my back is not your back.
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Old 06-18-22, 12:19 PM
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The surface (in my experience) is not the cause. It is biting off more than I should chew, so to speak. Going big, exceeding my conditioning, and bam, sore back.

Riding a bike is not a non-strenuous activity unless you plod along at a low power outputs, use an e-bike, and/or avoid things that make you work, like hills or gnarly surface routes. Honestly, though, when I get the sore lower back, it is usually on pavement because I will push a lot harder there than on surfaces that are not as surefooted.

But my back is not your back.
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Old 07-06-22, 10:44 PM
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I had lumbar issues when road biking that made me quit cycling for a while. At the worst of it, I couldn't sit down 5 minutes on the couch to eat dinner, and riding in the car was total agony. It took several months of PT and using a standing desk for work to get over that.

Lately, the gravel rides I've been doing are shorter and steeper than my road rides, but I'm not at all concerned about speed. I frequently stand up and use legs as suspension. I have not had any back issues from gravel riding.

Rode the same bike and tires on the road, however, and I started to have the first signs of pain again...tingling on the shins and pain in the hips (which is not hip pain, but pinched nerve). On the road, I'm down in the drops more (putting more pressure on the lumbar region), am pushing harder and going faster, so that the bumps are more sudden, and I'm fully seated so there's less suspension.

One lesson I learned from before is to never start a ride if my back is already aching... that is a recipe for injury.
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Old 07-07-22, 12:48 PM
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For me a new mattress fixed it
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Old 07-07-22, 12:57 PM
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I have a spinal cord injury and when I started riding on the sidewalk/street, yah, by end of the day, I would be unable to sit up due to so much pain!

like Germany Chris said, a new mattress helped a lot, I got a bed frame that I can adjust and put myself in zero-gravity position with legs above my heart. This position, plus a heating pad on my lower back, helps a lot.

and, of courtse, a good massage!
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