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bike for lower back and neck pain

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bike for lower back and neck pain

Old 10-15-16, 04:30 PM
  #1  
alentric
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bike for lower back and neck pain

I have a specialized sirrus road bike for 10 years and i take several spin classes a week. As I get older ( 62) I am experienced slight discomfort in my lower back and neck sometimes. Also, it seems like I feel every bump on the road.
I am wondering if a more upright hybrid would ease my discomfort? I live near a LBS that has specialized and other major brands except trek. Any bike suggestions? I am mostly on the road but do hit some light trails once in awhile.
Thanks--
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Old 10-15-16, 06:24 PM
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I recently bought a 2017 Giant Cypress DX. I have screwed up disks in my neck which had me bed ridden for over a month a couple years ago- horrible pain. I bought this bike for a multitude of reasons but one was for the comfort. It is smooth and quiet. The seatpost and front fork make bumps and ruts much, much easier to take. I've had no problems with it and the componentry seems just fine. I rode my road bike just a little last Saturday and my neck was killing me. I'm going to give it another go next week but the hybrid is like a Lincoln compared to a Porsche. If I only had the road bike or my mountain bike to ride I'd ride about a 1/10th of what I'm riding now and riding is what it is all about in my book.


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Old 10-15-16, 06:53 PM
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Bars Up at same height as saddle ?
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Old 10-15-16, 08:05 PM
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Ditto. Chronic neck pain here from a permanently damaged C2. Can't crane my neck upward even slightly, so drops are out. Can't handle flat bars below, or even at, saddle height either, for longer than a few miles. Here's what I did.

Try the widest tires that'll fit that can be ridden at lower pressure without feeling sluggish.

And a longer stem or adjustable stem.

I did both with a 1990s rigid fork mountain bike over the past few weeks. The original flat bars, just below saddle height, were much too uncomfortable for me . I swapped bars with my comfort hybrid, putting the more upright riser bars on the mountain bike and the flat bars on the comfort hybrid. Much better. The comfort hybrid has a long quill stem, easily adjusted, and about 2" above saddle height is right for me.

I've ridden both bikes with the slightly higher bars for several rides of 20-60 miles. Much better.

I tried three sets of tires on the rigid fork mountain bike. The best overall for me is a new set of Continental Speed Rides, the 700x42 (nominal -- actually about 38 wide), at around 50 psi. Doesn't feel sluggish to me, GPS riding apps show I'm riding a bit faster on routes over 20 miles, so these Contis are good for me. I could go slightly wider, although the rims are the limit. Taller tires would begin to rub the racks. So I'll stick with the Contis. They can be ridden at higher pressure, up to 85 psi, but a short ride at 75 was uncomfortable on rough pavement and chip seal so I'm sticking with lower pressure.

I'd already done the tire swap on the comfort hybrid, replacing the original 700x38 100 psi tires with 700x40 (nominal -- actually closer to 45 wide) that I've gradually run at lower pressure, from 40 psi on rougher roads to 60 on smooth pavement. This bike is good for 12 mph overall, no matter what modifications I make, so my main goal is to make it as comfortable as possible for longer rides.

If you have the budget, randonneur fans will rave about their favorite "supple" tires (still not sure that's a real thing, since air pressure would seem to overcome sidewall characteristics, but I won't argue). I've met folks who loved their Compass tires, Somas, Panaracers and others. They sound good but a bit pricey for me and the Continental Speed Rides cost only $25 a pair on sale a couple of weeks ago (regular price is $15-25 each), and the sidewalls felt thinner and more flexible than anything else I'd tried. Good enough for me.

If those relatively simple and affordable mods don't work, it might be time to consider another style of bike.

Last edited by canklecat; 10-15-16 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 10-16-16, 03:44 AM
  #5  
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The owner of the LBS suggested raising the bars, also. He didn't mention the tires , but I need new ones anyway. I have skinny 23c tires on now. Thanks for the input. I didn't realize tires could make a difference,too.
I will probably wait until spring to pull the trigger.
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Old 10-16-16, 04:52 AM
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Hey alentrec:

Surprised nobody has mentioned a recumbent.

I have two diamond frames and two recumbents. Love each and every one.

I love riding the diamond frames but when my back or shoulders are bothering me, I switch to the recumbents.

Regards,
Cranky
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Old 10-16-16, 06:41 AM
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Yes, either a recument or a crank-forward style bicycle may be what you need, to take the stress off the damaged vertebrae. Also, fatter tires to absorb the harshness of the road will be invaluable in reducing the jarring of the damaged neckbones.

Crank forward example:

Last edited by David Bierbaum; 10-16-16 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 10-16-16, 07:47 AM
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I had my seat just a tad too high, lower back, and too long of a top tube,, too big, all fixed now.
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Old 10-16-16, 08:39 AM
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See what you can do to get your bars higher, at least even with saddle or higher. They can do a lot with stems and can add a riser if needed. Also, wider tires with lower pressure could help.

I find that flat bars force the spine to carry weight more, I'd rather ride drop bars and stretch a bit with my hands on top and I try hard to let my core be more involved. But, we're all different. Do some searching on these forums, you'll find lots of us with similar issues and this has been discussed quite a bit.
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Old 10-16-16, 01:37 PM
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I was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis when I was 70. I had a Cannondale SuperSix EVO 105. My sine doc, who is a cyclist, recommended a better bike so I got a Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod. VERY comfy ride for my lower back.

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Old 10-16-16, 01:46 PM
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^Yes. Contrary to most supposition on BF, more drop is easier on the back. It does demand flexibility. So get some. As long as you keep doing it, you can keep doing it. Once you decide you can't anymore, then sure enough - you can't. So stretch, get flexible, and ride strong.

There's also having good position on the bike to decrease tension in the back and neck: roll your hips forward and straighten your spine! See: http://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycli...discovery.html

I gave up on spin classes years ago - I'm 71. Wrong position. Minimal help for actual cycling. Much better to get a set of resistance rollers and learn to use them. Then you're always on your road bike.

Be sure you always ride with bent elbows. Yes, wider tires at lower pressure will help if they fit your bike.

I still ride doubles on my race bike with -17° slammed stem. Still having fun.
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Old 10-16-16, 02:27 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by alentric View Post
I have a specialized sirrus road bike for 10 years and i take several spin classes a week. As I get older ( 62) I am experienced slight discomfort in my lower back and neck sometimes. Also, it seems like I feel every bump on the road.
I am wondering if a more upright hybrid would ease my discomfort? I live near a LBS that has specialized and other major brands except trek. Any bike suggestions? I am mostly on the road but do hit some light trails once in awhile.
Thanks--

If you do the spin classes in a more upright position, you could be training yourself

to be less flexible, leading to discomfort.

I try to mimic the riding position on the spin bike (the saddle won't go back enough)

and spend some time in a virtual aero bar position to increase range of motion.

Core exercises and a yoga class is a better direction to go than an upright bike, IMO.
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Old 10-16-16, 07:25 PM
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Actually I started working on my core and began yoga classes. I will try the minor change suggestions to my current bike in the spring before I get a new bike. I do have an urge to get a new bike, but not sure which type of bike to get at this point. My back isn't as bad as some of the people that replied to me. I'm certainly not in the recumbent camp , but I wouldn't rule it out in the future.
Thanks
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Old 10-17-16, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by alentric View Post
Actually I started working on my core and began yoga classes. I will try the minor change suggestions to my current bike in the spring before I get a new bike. I do have an urge to get a new bike, but not sure which type of bike to get at this point. My back isn't as bad as some of the people that replied to me. I'm certainly not in the recumbent camp , but I wouldn't rule it out in the future.
Thanks

Good for you.

Remember to resist comparing to others & overdoing it (especially arching the back e.g. 'upward dog' IME).

Also some instructors will give lip service to 'listening to your body',

and then push you way too far.

New bikes are fun, especially if leading to more enthusiastic riding.
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Old 10-17-16, 01:46 PM
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Crank Forward II

I ride my wife's crank forward hybrid from time to time. It's a hoot to ride, and I get a much better core and upper quad work-out than on my bikes. But...the stress on the tailbone can get oppressive on 30 mile rides, so I've installed a Thudbuster to soak up the bumps. If you can tolerate a cruising speed of more like 12-14 mph, it's a great ride and good cross training.
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Old 10-30-16, 11:31 PM
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If you have back, neck, or knee problems I cannot recommend a professional bike fit strongly enough. I'm 66, degenerative discs in my lower back, pinched nerves in my neck, and sandpaper for knee joints, lol. After riding with pain for years, someone bought me a bike fitting as a gift (probably tired of my whining). I can ride 40+ miles now pain free! Fittings run between $75-150 depending on who and where. Worth every penny if you go to someone really good. I don't ride clipped in and my fitter showed me things to do with my feet on the pedal to eliminate my knee pain. He changed out my handlebars and adjusted my seat height, angle, and reach. No more pain in my neck and between my shoulders. No hand pain. I am more stretched out than upright (around 50-60 degrees) and it helps open up the space between my discs. Seriously amazing. I always thought biking was supposed to hurt - NO! Check your local reviews and find someone good to fit you properly to your bike.

Last edited by linberl; 10-30-16 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 10-31-16, 04:20 AM
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I'm loving my Catrike 559
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Old 10-31-16, 04:23 AM
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I raised my bars, use "trekking bars" for the multiple positions, added a good suspension seat-post and seat, and so far so good for my beat up old body. Id' recommend considering doing the same for yourself.
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Old 10-31-16, 07:24 AM
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Slightly leaning forward can cause a lot more back pain than fully leaning forward and for many people (non pro athlete types) is less efficient than either fully forward or bolt upright.

The best riding position for back, neck, and shoulders is fully upright Dutch geometry. This aligns your sit bone, spine, and neck, places weight properly on your sit bone, and takes weight off your palms and shoulders. This is one reason that places like The Netherlands and Sweden sometimes seem like giant old folks homes. It's not that they have more old folks (though they do slightly due to longer lifespans) but that the bikes they're riding (and the protected bikeways) allow them to continue riding until the day they die (and a significant bit of their bicycle fatalities are old folks having heart attacks or strokes and crashing).

Note that many bikes that purport to be Dutch do not have the proper geometry. Electra in particular will often cause more back problems than just about any other bike due to the seat being too far behind the bottom bracket and head tube. The same goes for cruisers and similar bikes.

More: City Bikes | LocalMile
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Old 10-31-16, 07:36 AM
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I'm the same age as yourself and suffer big time with lower back problem my problem is swollen discs.
i got a probike fit done maybe 4 months ago takes roughly 2 hours to get done, best money i ever spent .i had the bike set up myself so as i was riding near enough straight back big mistake i was putting way to much pressure on my back .basically get a bike fit done u wont regret it.
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Old 10-31-16, 09:46 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by alentric View Post
I have a specialized sirrus road bike for 10 years and i take several spin classes a week. As I get older ( 62) I am experienced slight discomfort in my lower back and neck sometimes. Also, it seems like I feel every bump on the road.
I am wondering if a more upright hybrid would ease my discomfort? I live near a LBS that has specialized and other major brands except trek. Any bike suggestions? I am mostly on the road but do hit some light trails once in awhile.
Thanks--


Check out Velo Orange and Rivendell Bikes. There is a lot of good info on both sites. Good winter reading.
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Old 10-31-16, 08:10 PM
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Every injured spine is unique; other people's experiences may give you ideas, but your results will be based on your particular situation. Take advice as data points and nothing more.

Having increased flexibility will almost certainly help. The question is, can you increase your flexibility without causing injury? Not everybody can.

Ditto with increased core strength.

(I improved both the above by taking up the unicycle at age 54)

A pro fit, by a fitter who is familiar with riders having physical challenges, will almost certainly help. Beware fitters who don't have any such competence.

It's quite possible this will take time and a combination of changes. Patience and persistence will pay off.

(Lower back issues and neck arthritis eventually led me to a recumbent for rides over 20 miles. I've ridden my upright bike on a couple 200k brevets, but finished in great discomfort. On the bent I've completed 24 hour races and a 1500k brevet, finishing fatigued but without significant pain. Again, just one data point, and not necessarily pertinent to your condition.)
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Old 10-31-16, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by 2 Piece View Post
I'm loving my Catrike 559
I have one too and I'm loving it also.

It took me a long time to get my head around the idea of riding a recumbent tricycle. Now that I'm there I wish that I had done it a lot sooner.

If I were doing it over the only change I would make would be to get a Trail instead. I like the slightly higher seat on the 559, but the Trail with the 406 rear tire folds a little more compactly for transportation and storage.
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Old 11-01-16, 05:14 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I have one too and I'm loving it also.

It took me a long time to get my head around the idea of riding a recumbent tricycle. Now that I'm there I wish that I had done it a lot sooner.

If I were doing it over the only change I would make would be to get a Trail instead. I like the slightly higher seat on the 559, but the Trail with the 406 rear tire folds a little more compactly for transportation and storage.
I too wish I could have gotten over the mindset of riding a trike earlier. Cause it's a blast to ride! Not sure if I'm ready to tour on the trike just yet, but I do believe it will be my go to for all my around town errands.
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