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Anybody have a bad low back?

Old 02-16-10, 02:33 PM
  #1  
HIPCHIP
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Anybody have a bad low back?

I'm almost 54 (Now 5'7" and a little chubbier than I should be), rode/raced dirt-bikes from age 10-50. Broke the little bones on the right side and center of my low back (L-2 through L-5 transverse processes and a couple of the lumbar spinous processes) in a MX crash in 1980. I was recently diagnosed with a herniation of all 5 lumbar disks and an L-5 vertebrae that is slipping and sliding on L-4 and S-1 (the 1980 crash coming back to bite me). Doc advised no more motorcycles.

Started riding road bicycles last May, and had gotten up to 30-40+ miles on my rides averaging 14-16+ MPH (2-4 rides a week, walking 7-8 miles on the other days as the Doc advised no running). Last Aug I attempted to do my first MTB race. Nice track, mostly smooth roads. My MTB bike is a 18 year old full suspension bike (so about 1"+ of travel). I sucked that day (98 degrees out that day too. I was well hydrated) and it turns out I was coming down with the flu, so a couple of days later I was sick in bed and my lumbar disks blew out.

I asked my doc the other day if I should, or shouldn't, ride MTB anymore and if the flu could have caused the disk to be irritated. He seemed a bit confused on my question but stated that a virus could have irritated my disk and that he was impressed I was riding my mountain bike (I told him I was riding "Road" and wanted to know about MTB, so no definitive answer as to riding the MTB, but not a "NO". He encouraged me to keep exercising).

I know that everybody is different, but was wondering if anybody else has a bad low back, similar to mine, that is able to ride on easy trails? I'm thinking with getting a new Trail MTB with 4"-5" of travel and riding one day a week off road to cross train for my road riding.

The Doc also recommended to continue walking because it helps load the bone and builds calcium, so curious if Doc's of others have recommended MTB for similar reasons?

Just trying to get a consensus before dropping $ on a good 4"-5" Trail suspension MTB as well as advice from others in my predicament.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 02-16-10, 06:42 PM
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I've also got a jacked up lower back from racing ATV's for years. I went from a HT bike to a 4 inch full suspension bike and it made a world of difference in my riding.
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Old 02-16-10, 06:53 PM
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My current bike being 19 years old and having about 1.5" of travel I figure is pretty much like an HT. I've ridden some of the newer bikes and the suspension is much better. I figure I can do some easy cow-trailing with a good full suspension, I just don't want to drop a $Grand+ only to find out after one ride that I can't do any MTB. Just trying to get an idea how others have fared. So far sounds good. Guess I need to check my local MTB park to see how mellow the trails are. The maps show some nice easy stuff, but didn't want to check it, get all excited, then have my Doc tell me NO MTB!
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Old 02-16-10, 06:59 PM
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Well the more biking you do the stronger the muscles in your lower back are going to get and the better you'll do. If I'm off my bike for say a few months, when I get back in the saddle my back tells me. After a month or two of good riding the pain goes away and I'm good to go.

I will also add that I am a roadie too and I have NO back pains when I'm on the road bike. Seems weird but it's the truth.
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Old 02-16-10, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RIC0 View Post
Well the more biking you do the stronger the muscles in your lower back are going to get and the better you'll do. If I'm off my bike for say a few months, when I get back in the saddle my back tells me. After a month or two of good riding the pain goes away and I'm good to go.

I will also add that I am a roadie too and I have NO back pains when I'm on the road bike. Seems weird but it's the truth.
I do great on the road bike as bending over forward actually opens up my spine and stretches the bad area. When I ride a regular type of bike, where I sit more straight up, it seems to hurt more, so I can ride in a more forward position. Seemed weird to me too, but it works!
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Old 02-16-10, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by RIC0 View Post
Well the more biking you do the stronger the muscles in your lower back are going to get and the better you'll do.
Good point. A stronger core helps keep the bony things where they should be.

Only broken vertebrae I've had were cervical, sorry no help there.
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Old 02-16-10, 08:21 PM
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Yeah, get plush suspension... it really does help.

If you crash you will be really sorry though.
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Old 02-16-10, 10:01 PM
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Find a good LBS - tell them your problem and take a loner to the local trail. If you tell them you are serious about buying a bike, but you need to know if it will hurt your back or not - they will work with you. Maybe the shop you bought your road bike at? If they won't do that - fly to Spokane and I will set you up with a 2010 enduro and some awesome trails.
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Old 02-20-10, 08:48 AM
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I was interested to see this discussion. I have had back issues for the past several years Mine usually show up as a kind of cold stinging pain into my thighs and groin rather than back pain. I have had some epidural injections and once had a disk ablation. I am 46 years old now, 73 inches 225 lbs. Anyway, I started recently working out with new mountain bike build to be away from cars while riding. Mine is a steel hardtail by Niner. I have started to have some of the pain I have had in the past. I hope it isn't the pounding and the slightly curved position of the low back causing it.
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Old 02-20-10, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by HIPCHIP View Post
I do great on the road bike as bending over forward actually opens up my spine and stretches the bad area. When I ride a regular type of bike, where I sit more straight up, it seems to hurt more, so I can ride in a more forward position. Seemed weird to me too, but it works!
I recently discovered that riding in the drops was more comfortable for me that on the hoods. I dropped the stem and hopefully will see how riding on the hoods is now. One thing I have found helpful for my back/hips/glutes is Bikram Yoga, the stretching, heat and range of motion have me nearly 100% pain free plus I am stronger than before. YMMV
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Old 02-20-10, 09:33 AM
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Well I can't say my back is bad but it's definitley not good. I ruptured L4-5 in Dec 03 and had Surgery in Jan to fix the problem. I ride a hard tail with no problems and also walk and hike a fare amount. You may want to try a good shock post on a HT if you don't want to put down the money on a FS ride. Most people who use the Thud Buster seem pretty happy with it. I have a USE shock post on my cross bike that I bought in 95 and it does help take the sting out. Don't forget good core exercises and stretching are a must.
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Old 02-20-10, 02:47 PM
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Anyone have any good stretches/ exercises or remedies for back pain? I have, over the past few months been developing rather uncomfortable, and increasingly painful lower-mid back pain. Sitting down for longish periods of time and especially at our Basketball games, the benches are just flat with no support, extreamly painful, I had to stand several times.

My back also pops and cracks a lot.
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Old 02-20-10, 03:06 PM
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Back pain could be a lot of different things. Mainly, if you are under 40, it'll be either a pulled and hence inflamed muscle or ligament. But, mainly if you are over 40, it could also be more serious, a compressed or even herniated disc, or overstressed flange on the vertebrae.

I've had both. The muscle stuff can be remedied with anti inflammatory drugs, and rest and improving body core, via exercise and stretching like yoga or pilates, but also via relaxation alignment exercises (a'la the book Pain Free, see below).

The structural stuff is more serious and worrysome. You should see a doctor and probably a physiotherapist. The majority of us get back pain at some point in our lives, esp. as we age, and wear and tear takes it's toll (discs also shrink as we age). Get a handle on it sooner rather than later, to prevent long term damage: ie., to repeat, make an appointment to see your GP or any doctor.

I have had good experience with Pain Free, a fine book on fixing chronic pain (esp. the infamous lumbar region of the lower back). Unlike pills or acupuncture, which remove the pain but not the problem, these exercises really help getting at the underlying issue. But I think a good physio who knows backs, will also recommend these kinds of strengthening exercises.

(Caveat -- I'm not connected to author or publisher in any way, I'm just a guy who benefited from the book.)

BTW, my doctors say: avoid chiropractors at all costs.

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Old 02-20-10, 05:03 PM
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Did you think about trying to make your tires softer? I rode again today and decreased my tires from 50 to 40 psi. So far no increase in the symptoms- I actually think maybe a little better. I am riding 29inch Stan's Tubeless btw and I am about 6'1 and 225 and they felt really good to me. Maybe you could look at going tubeless and using a lower pressure also?
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