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Cycling bad for your back?

Old 04-25-07, 04:43 PM
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AroW
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Cycling bad for your back?

Is it, with that seating position and all? I use to run but now that I am at my university there are no trials around me, and doing long runs on concrete is terrible. I want to take up cycling next year when I bring my Trek hybrid, or possibly get a $600 road bike if I have the money. However, it seems the seating position is even worse for road bkes.

I hope biking isnt too bad for the back and lower body because thats one of the reasons I like running(it works the whole body and gets me off my sitting position when I am in lectures, studying, etc).

What do you think?
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Old 04-25-07, 04:45 PM
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I often wonder about the long term issues with this. Its hard to argue that it's good but i think with proper form and a good strong core the benefits probably outweigh the possible negatives assuming no predisposed back problems.

Maybe i should leave it to the Doc...what say he
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Old 04-25-07, 05:04 PM
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It's probably very individual. I've suffered from lower back muscle spasms for the last 20 years, everything from mildly annoying to debilitating. Started riding regularly about two years ago, and now notice that my back starts to worsen when I can't ride for 5-6 days. As long as I'm in the saddle for at least a few days a week, I feel better then I have in years.

My guess is that it's a combination of stretching and strengthening on a regular basis just enough to stabilize the muscles. Against what would seem common sense, my road bike gives me the best improvement and comfort, as long as I'm careful to get fully warmed up before hitting the drops too hard.

Obviously everyones different, and if you've got concerns ask a doctors opinion. But after 20 years of chronic pain, biking has been quite a welcome surprise.
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Old 04-25-07, 05:06 PM
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It's different for everyone.
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Old 04-25-07, 05:14 PM
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I've had chronic upper back pain for the past four years or so. The longer I go without riding, the worse it feels.
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Old 04-25-07, 06:48 PM
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I used to play pick-up basketball at a reasonably high level until I was 50. One of the reasons I quit was because of the amount of torque required on the lower back that led to pretty regular therapeutic sports massages. The major reason I quit was that whole body and my ankles in particular were constantly sore. After I quit basketball I just ramped up the amount of cycling that I do as a replacement. Even when I "tweak" my lower back now I can still cycle and it seems to help. (In case you are wondering I have almost 5"s of drop from my seat to my bars.) From experience the activity that "tweaks" my lower back the most now is lawn mowing. Do you think that there is any chance that I can get a prescription for somebody else to mow my lawns (mine and two rental properties) while I get to go out on a therapeutic bike ride?
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Old 04-25-07, 06:56 PM
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In my experience, running causes way more back pain than biking.
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Old 04-25-07, 07:52 PM
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Proper fit, some core strengthening and some stretching and you r back should be fine.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:17 PM
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Well actually I want to stregthen my back which is why I like running because it gets me off my sitting position.

Anyway, do you think the road bike or hybrid(more upright) position is better for the back?
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Old 04-25-07, 09:26 PM
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I was on restricted duty for my back at work, and was bike commuting. It actually made my back feel better. I took up yoga, exercises for my core, and kept riding. Haven't had a back problem since.
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Old 04-25-07, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AroW
Well actually I want to stregthen my back which is why I like running because it gets me off my sitting position.

Anyway, do you think the road bike or hybrid(more upright) position is better for the back?

There are lots of simple exercises to do for your back
https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exer...cle=Lower+Back
https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exer...le=Middle+Back
https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exer...inMuscle=Traps
https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exer...ainMuscle=Lats
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Old 04-25-07, 10:35 PM
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The road bike position puts more weight on your arms and less on your back than an upright hybrid position. Your muscles may be fatigued at first with the more foward "road" position but there's less stress on the vertibrae when you're leaning over. Sitting upright results in more pounding. You can strengthen your muscles a whole lot more than your joints, IMO.
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Old 04-26-07, 05:37 AM
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Cycling isn't bad for your back, but some backs just can't take the position no matter how many exercises they do. Scoliosis, disc problems, pinched nerves, etc may not respond to exercises. If you don't get enough relief from modifying your position or doing core exercises, consider the recumbent option. Between all the different styles, 'bents have enough different positions possible that it's pretty likely you'll find one that works. The problem is, it's a totally different platform with a totally different style of riding, and it takes commitment to fully adapt.
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Old 04-26-07, 05:53 AM
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I've got back problems and I find as long as my setup is dialed in everything is good. Right now, I've got a new bike and I'm still fiddling with set-up so my back and knees are talking to me. On the old bike the knees were the issue, but the back rarely complained. I would actually find that if my back was stiff and sore that the riding would loosen things up. I read somewhere that aerobic activity is good because it causes the body to increase the amount of fluid in the spine that lubricates the disks. I really wish I could remember where I had seen that. At any rate I find that cycling has actually helped my back.
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Old 04-26-07, 06:39 AM
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I have osteoarthritis in my back and have not noticed it getting worse. If anything, it's getting better. Could be do to the stretching, but doc tells me I have the back of a 65 year old and I am only 34, yet I have been on the bike for 8.5 hrs before with not much trouble. Of course that's with about 1600mg of ibuprofen .
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Old 04-26-07, 06:52 AM
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so is sitting in a chair at the office all day is bad for your back. like the others have mentioned, core strength is key for any back issues (related to overuse, etc).
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Old 04-26-07, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by SteveE
The road bike position puts more weight on your arms and less on your back than an upright hybrid position. Your muscles may be fatigued at first with the more foward "road" position but there's less stress on the vertibrae when you're leaning over. Sitting upright results in more pounding. You can strengthen your muscles a whole lot more than your joints, IMO.
Most noobs don't realize this and buy a hybrid or mountain bike, and that upright position just makes thing worse.

I have several herniated discs in my lower back, and cycling helps me a lot. When I asked my doctor(pain management/drug pusher) about getting back onto the bike he suggested a mountainbike, until I pointed out what SteveE mentioned.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:01 AM
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I have a bad back(scoliosis, lumbar lordosis, old injuries) which is aggravated by just about everything(walking, standing, sitting, kneeling) but biking causes me no pain whatsoever.
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Old 04-26-07, 08:05 AM
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If you develop back pain and it's severe (chronic), get professional advise and treatment. Don't listen to people on a forum like this. A couple years ago, everyone started throwing out the term "strengthen the core." That's not a bad thing to do along with stretching. But if you have a severe muscle imbalance brought on by overuse (too much running or cycling, for example), strengthening the "core" might worsen your back. You need to find out the cause of your back pain and proceed with strengthening the right parts.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:35 AM
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I have heard people recommend sitting on a large exercise ball as an office chair. The theory behind it is that it helps to strengthen your core muscles. I wonder if that really works.
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Old 04-26-07, 11:42 AM
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Cycling actually helps my back. I have three herniated disks. When I stay in shape - no problems at all.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by AroW
Is it, with that seating position and all? I use to run but now that I am at my university there are no trials around me, and doing long runs on concrete is terrible. I want to take up cycling next year when I bring my Trek hybrid, or possibly get a $600 road bike if I have the money. However, it seems the seating position is even worse for road bkes.

I hope biking isnt too bad for the back and lower body because thats one of the reasons I like running(it works the whole body and gets me off my sitting position when I am in lectures, studying, etc).

What do you think?
I have a hearniated disk. Had it since Katrina. The only thing that alleviates pain durably is long rides on my road bike. Anti-inflamatory meds & physical therapy do not compare.
Riding my bike has become a medical neccesity for me.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MillCreek
I have heard people recommend sitting on a large exercise ball as an office chair. The theory behind it is that it helps to strengthen your core muscles. I wonder if that really works.
Works for me!
It requires you to sit upright with engaged abs/core. Another added benefit is that it makes you stand up and walk around the office instead of rolling in a chair.

I started using it because of some lower back pain which has decreased significantly.

I think what helped my back the most was stretching, specifically my hamstrings/hip flexors/buttocks.
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Old 04-26-07, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by nickw
Works for me!
It requires you to sit upright with engaged abs/core. Another added benefit is that it makes you stand up and walk around the office instead of rolling in a chair.

I started using it because of some lower back pain which has decreased significantly.

I think what helped my back the most was stretching, specifically my hamstrings/hip flexors/buttocks.

I don't think I could put up with all the jeering if I sat on a giant inflatable ball at work.
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Old 04-26-07, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by MillCreek
I have heard people recommend sitting on a large exercise ball as an office chair. The theory behind it is that it helps to strengthen your core muscles. I wonder if that really works.
My Dr. had me get one of these to use at the house and sure enough it works. Its unreal how many exercises and stretches you can do with those things.
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