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Upper Back Pain Cycling - Fit

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Upper Back Pain Cycling - Fit

Old 06-01-20, 10:43 AM
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mohamilton
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Upper Back Pain Cycling - Fit

I'm currently training for a 200 mile gravel ride. Whenever I get to around 60-70 miles my upper back starts to kill.

Curious if I might be better on a 54 or 56 frame? I'm currently riding a Niner RLT Steel in a 56.

I'm 70inches tall and have an actual inseam of about 33.5. I always thought I should be on a 56 being 5' 10" however most fit calculators are suggesting a 52 or 54. All of my pervious bikes have had short 90mm stems too.

I'll be getting a bike fit as soon as things clear with Covid however I thought i'd post here in the meantime.

Thanks!
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Old 06-01-20, 11:51 AM
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Have you played with the fore and aft on your seat? That can make a big difference. I like my seat a little forward more so than others. Seems like I get more power into the cranks then. Others want to balance their CG on the saddle, I like to balance my CG on the crank. It does take some playing with bar height and even stem length to get it feeling right, but it works for me. KOP's is a ridiculous thing to me so if that is your fit religion then just ignore me.

Straight back when you ride? Or hunchback of Notre Dame? Stiff arms all the time? Or a bend at the elbows?
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Old 06-01-20, 04:04 PM
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My initial thought was that you're either too cramped or too stretched out, or you're holding yourself too tightly. But my inseam is 30.5", and the recos I get are 52-55 CM (competitive-Eddy-French fit) on Competitive Cyclist's tool. What calculators are you using.
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Old 06-01-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
My initial thought was that you're either too cramped or too stretched out, or you're holding yourself too tightly. But my inseam is 30.5", and the recos I get are 52-55 CM (competitive-Eddy-French fit) on Competitive Cyclist's tool. What calculators are you using.
Maybe I feel a little stretched? I've found putting my saddle back with zero tilt helps so it doesn't hunch by back forward. I don't hold the bars tightly at all - something I learned from endurance running is to never clench your hands.

Using the competitive cycling calculator. Sounds like a lot of people say it's close and some say it's a total bodge.
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Old 06-01-20, 06:59 PM
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Bend your elbows and unhunch your shoulders.
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Old 06-02-20, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Bend your elbows and unhunch your shoulders.
I try to do some back stretches on rides too, it seems to help
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Old 06-02-20, 10:04 AM
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Have a look at this: Riding Position Discovery

I've found this stuff is more about fitness than fit. Get a pair of 10 and 15 lb. dumbbells and do, in order: side raises, front raises, rear raises, presses, supersetting those 4 exercises, 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Youtube if you don't know the exercises. Lat pull-downs and seated rows are very good too, but you have to have a gym or home equipment for those.
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Old 06-13-20, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Have a look at this: Riding Position Discovery

I've found this stuff is more about fitness than fit. Get a pair of 10 and 15 lb. dumbbells and do, in order: side raises, front raises, rear raises, presses, supersetting those 4 exercises, 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Youtube if you don't know the exercises. Lat pull-downs and seated rows are very good too, but you have to have a gym or home equipment for those.
Thanks! This is helpful. I picked up a foam roller recently, that in combination with laying on a tennis ball to hit trigger pointer on traps has helped a lot as well.
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Old 06-19-20, 05:21 AM
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Hows the drop between saddle>bars? Maybe need to raise the seat if it's too low or lower the bars to help engage the core?
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Old 06-19-20, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mohamilton View Post
Maybe I feel a little stretched? I've found putting my saddle back with zero tilt helps so it doesn't hunch by back forward. I don't hold the bars tightly at all - something I learned from endurance running is to never clench your hands.

Using the competitive cycling calculator. Sounds like a lot of people say it's close and some say it's a total bodge.
I wouldn't adjust saddle height or fore-aft to help with the back issue since that can compound issues. Saddle tilt is worth playing with.

How are your bars sized?

What wheels and tires are you running? What width and pressure?

Also what do you mean by upper back ? Your neck? Between your shoulder blades?
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Old 06-19-20, 03:45 PM
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I captain our tandem at least a couple thousand miles/year. That also takes a lot of upper body strength/endurance, maybe a little like gravel riding. Another thing you can do is pushups and plank to exhaustion. That helps. I do that every other morning after my stretches. 1000 pushups in a month would be a good goal.
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Old 06-28-20, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mohamilton View Post
Maybe I feel a little stretched? I've found putting my saddle back with zero tilt helps so it doesn't hunch by back forward. I don't hold the bars tightly at all - something I learned from endurance running is to never clench your hands.

Using the competitive cycling calculator. Sounds like a lot of people say it's close and some say it's a total bodge.
It may just be the reach to the handlebars is a little too much. Moving the seat will mess up your pedal stroke, so look into raising the bars or a shorter stem to reduce reach.
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Old 07-28-20, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris(NJ) View Post
Hows the drop between saddle>bars? Maybe need to raise the seat if it's too low or lower the bars to help engage the core?
I raised the seat post and that definitely helped. Im going to try lowering the bars slightly and shorten the reach next
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Old 07-28-20, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
I wouldn't adjust saddle height or fore-aft to help with the back issue since that can compound issues. Saddle tilt is worth playing with.

How are your bars sized?

What wheels and tires are you running? What width and pressure?

Also what do you mean by upper back ? Your neck? Between your shoulder blades?
Im running 42cm bars and the reach on them is really far, I may swap out to a short reach bar. Getting sharp pain in my upper left trap near my neck/spine.

40mm tires at 60psi
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Old 07-28-20, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I captain our tandem at least a couple thousand miles/year. That also takes a lot of upper body strength/endurance, maybe a little like gravel riding. Another thing you can do is pushups and plank to exhaustion. That helps. I do that every other morning after my stretches. 1000 pushups in a month would be a good goal.
Thats a good call, gravel can definitely take much more of a beating than road riding. I think my core strength is good overall though - I can hold planks over 7 minutes and can hit over 25 pulls ups
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Old 07-28-20, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mohamilton View Post
Im running 42cm bars and the reach on them is really far, I may swap out to a short reach bar. Getting sharp pain in my upper left trap near my neck/spine.

40mm tires at 60psi
Have you seen this? Riding Position Discovery
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Old 08-02-20, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Have you seen this? Riding Position Discovery
Yes! This is awesome, thanks for sharing. Rotating my pelvis forward has been a revelation, feels like you can get a lot more power out too. Starting to notice less pain now. I think I stained my left trap so it'll probably take a little while to recover fully but things are getting better.
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Old 08-07-20, 02:21 AM
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Pain in the traps frequently comes from too much reach. I would try going shorter and possibly lower with the handlebar if your current torso angle feels comfortable and powerful.
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Old 08-08-20, 01:57 PM
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Re: rotating pelvis forward

SMP saddles are amazing for this. I honestly can't overstate how awesome they are. Finally settled on them in college after a period of having issues with like 5-6 well regarded saddles and haven't looked back. Took a break from riding for almost 10 years and when I got back on the bike I got used to the saddle again real quick!
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