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Hand numbness and lower back pain

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Hand numbness and lower back pain

Old 07-21-21, 11:03 PM
  #1  
djdelarosa25
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Hand numbness and lower back pain

Hi all. I would like to ask for suggestions from you guys on how I can improve my bike fit.

First of all, about me. I'm 164 cm tall with a 77 cm inseam. I'm unsure of my proportions but I think I have a short torso, long legs, and long arms(?).

My bike is a 2021 Giant Contend 2, size XS. Here's the product page of my bike where the geometry chart can be found if you scroll down a bit.

Here's a video of me on the trainer. My saddle height was set to 66 cm on the video, which some people on ****** have commented I could raise a bit. Now I have raised it by 1 cm. My saddle was also positioned forward on the video, but not maxed out (about 10 mm from the edge of the clamping area).

I swapped out the stock 80 mm stem with a 100 mm from a friend when I first got the bike (seven months ago) because of naivity. I don't have any neck and shoulder pain when riding, and it seems like I do have a slight bend on my elbows at all times when on the hoods, so I guess it's fine(?). What I do experience on long rides, however, is numb hands and lower back pain, the latter especially noticeable when going hard. I also notice the left part of my butt hurts early on in a ride, possibly due to rubbing against the saddle. It does go away as the ride progresses.

Based on the video and my comments, what would you guys suggest? Do you think I should try a shorter stem, or do my problems lie with other things such as improper saddle setback and lack of core strength? Maybe a combination of all things?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-22-21, 04:58 AM
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Branko D
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Saddle height looks good on the video (I wouldn't raise it, especially if you feel just one side of your butt hurt, because that indicates an imbalance of some sort which are usually made worse by raising the saddle).

How do you feel when you try to raise your hands from the bars while pedalling on the trainer? If you feel excessively like falling forward and having to pedal much faster, try sliding the saddle back a bit and try again and see how you feel. Saddle setback can influence balance and weight distribution on the bike pretty dramatically. A shorter stem might be of use, especially if you change the setback some. Experiment with setback on the trainer and see how it feels when you slightly increase it.

As for lower back pain, all my little aches and pains when it comes to long all day rides disappeared after I started lifting weights. Best thing I ever did for bike comfort.

Last edited by Branko D; 07-22-21 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 07-22-21, 08:07 AM
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Saddle looks too low to me. If you raise it, you will have a lower body position on the bars but your core strength may and should take over to reduce your weight on the bars. I'll run my saddle heights between 106% to 109% of my inseam. Measure from saddle where you sit to the top of pedal when furthest away from the saddle.

If you raise your hands off the bars and fall forward, that's really not an indication to move your saddle back, IMO, it's an indication to do more exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. You'll give up some power into the pedals every time you push your saddle further back. Also IMO.

Do you keep your hands on the hoods all the time? Change your hand position every so often. Where is the palm of your hand when on the hoods? I do better when my palm is on the side of the hoods and the pad below my thumb is on top of the shifter body.

Are your wrist staying straight? If not maybe you need narrower bars. So be sure your hand numbness isn't starting out as wrist numbness. My stock bar width on my new bike was too wide for me, and going 4 cm narrower let me keep my wrist straight on long rides eliminating all the wrist numbness I was getting on 40 mile plus rides.
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Old 07-22-21, 09:00 AM
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Saddle seems slightly lower that needed on the video. When you take off your hands of the bars I would bring them behind your back(do it on the trainer). It is called a balance test. If you keep falling/sliding forward I would tilt the saddle up and maybe slide it slightly back, experiment with it. You should be able to ride on the trainer without sliding forward with your hands behind you back and still keep the normal riding cadence. It should help with the pain in your hands. As far as lower back pain when riding hard most likely core strength is not enough as mentioned above.
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Old 07-22-21, 09:11 AM
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djdelarosa25
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Thank you all for your responses. I'll get back on the trainer and get my saddle setback sorted.

As for my stem length, do you guys think I should stay with 100 mm? In the video, I was on 100 mm. My frame has an endurance geometry and I'm done with trying to make a race bike out of it lol. How about handlebar drop?

Last edited by djdelarosa25; 07-22-21 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 07-22-21, 11:33 AM
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IMO... race road bikes are endurance geometry too. They just let you get a lower more aero position. Typically by having a lower stack height.

As for stem length, try every stem length you have available to you. Use what is more comfortable. It might be with a stem at the extremes of one direction, you might need to consider if something else needs to be changed also.
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Old 07-24-21, 06:13 PM
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Good video. Saddle height looks good. You are too far forward on the bike. Move the saddle back until the hand pain goes away. Leave the stem alone for new. Notice how your lower back is rounded. You don't want that. Roll your pelvis forward so that your sit-bones begin to lift off the saddle and your pubic arch begins to take more of the weight. That will straighten your lower back. Sitting further back combined with a straight back should help. When one pedals, particularly on the downstroke, you are engaging what's known as your posterior chain. That goes from your heels all the way to your shoulder blades. Thus cycling is one of the best back exercises there are, which means that you're working your back muscles and they will get sore until you get them in shape. So muscle pain is OK, but pain which doesn't go away with conditioning is not.

I think with a little adjustment you'll do fine. Nice pedaling. My bike fit primer is here: How can I fitting my bike
Go through the steps in order.
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Old 07-26-21, 05:43 AM
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So I found an old 80 mm stem my dad had lying around and I've been using it for a couple of days now. Feels much better than the 100 mm. It's a bit twitchy, though, and I kind of feel restricted when getting into an aggressive position. I'm planning on buying a 90 mm stem (no friends to borrow one from) to see if that would be a good compromise. For those who have experience, is a 10 mm difference in reach significant?
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Old 07-28-21, 10:42 PM
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Old school thinking is to start with KOPS to dictate saddle setback and height, and use stem length and height. Deviating from KOPS is taboo.

New school thinking is KOPS is meaningless except as a very general guideline for people of average height, average torso/leg length ratio, average arm legnth/torso ratio, athletic build, and athletic core strength. For people outside that norm in terms of build, and with normal athleticism, screw KOPS.

Think of your entire body as able to adjust position by rotating around the bike, pivoting on the bottom bracket. As it rotates way way forward, obviously there's a ton of weight on the hands. As it rotates way way back, eventually you're falling off the back of the bike. Got it?

Think of your leg to torso angle as driven by your flexibility.

Think about your hand position relative to your torso being driven by your arm length and torso length, combined with torso/leg angle. Make sense?

You have to start somewhere, so go ahead and start with KOPS just to satisfy the cycling gods and the KOPS fanboys. Set saddle height just low enough to prevent pelvic rocking as you pedal; no lower. Handlebar position is then based on flexibility, torso length, and arm length. F**k anyone's idea about handlebar drop; it's your body not someone's idea of what your body should be. There are methods of measuring your hip flexibility; google that if you want, to determine what a sustainable torso angle is for you. Otherwise wing it and pick a stem, but keep in mind conventional stem lengths have absolutely nothing to do with your actual body dimensions and flexibility. With that starting point, if there's too much weight on your hands (again f**k anyone's idea of how strong your core should be; it is what it is) to reduce hand weight you rotate your body back: slide the saddle back whilst lowering it to maintain the same bb to seat distance, and simultaneously move the bars up and back. Continue this rotation until hands can hover over the bars with ease. In the extreme case you're riding a g*****n recumbent, which isn't going to happen but people do ride recumbents and break records on recumbents, and that suggests KOPS is is nonsense as a hard rule.

Now the problem with this as a DIY method is most people don't have a supply of stems on hand for moving the hands, nor a supply of seatposts to accommodate drastic saddle setback moves.

I bought an ancient road bike with quill stem, bought a few used stems at the co-op, and experimented. That got me close, but now I'm going to a pro fitter to dial it in. I have no idea where I am in terms of KOPS, but it's irrelevant.

Edit: I've picked a fitter based on recommendations, reading his technique, and reviews. If he starts spouting KOPS nonsense, I'll walk even if it means paying for nothing. I've done numerous double centuries with my current fit; I'm looking to make those rides and longer ones comfortable, not be a guinea pig for some antiquated ideas. Ha, clearly I have an attitude.

Last edited by downtube42; 07-28-21 at 10:55 PM.
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