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Any ideas for back pain relief?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Any ideas for back pain relief?

Old 07-10-00, 11:57 PM
  #1  
cotaguro
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I just started road bike riding again about 4 months ago. I wasn't in "bike shape", but I had been running a couple miles and working on weights three times a week. I bought and got fitted by a LBS to a Trek 5200. After doing some tough climbs (5 miles, 11% grade), I experienced lower middle back pain (I've had some occasional pain before). I have tried the following items one at a time with the following results:

1) Lowered seat 0.25" (to prevent rocking) - no change.
2) Shortened stem from 8 cm to 6 cm (for more upright position) - no change
3) Stop carrying water in Camelbak (less weight on back) - slight improvement
4) Practiced better riding back posture - slight improvement
5) Changed seat angle downward (to change angle on back) - no change.

The other things I've heard about, but haven't tried yet are:
- chiropractic adjustment
- putting a "riser" for the handlebars (for an even more upright position)
- using a back brace
- strengthening the back with crunches & "reverse" situps

The last ride I did, I took the anti-inflamatory Motrin as a preventative measure -- it did help for a while. I stretched my back to get relief, until it started hurting again. Even though my back hurt for half the tough ride (Death Ride!), I only suffered some mild discomfort the day after (I took Motrin for relief).

Does anyone have any advice on how I can alleviate my back pain? My riding would be that much more enjoyable without the pain. Thanks for your help.

...Curtis
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Old 07-13-00, 02:03 AM
  #2  
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Back pain

Your problem is common to a lot of cyclists. Stretching is the only remedy, check this subject under the "Interactive- open discussion forum." You will find some good advice there.
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Old 07-13-00, 06:42 AM
  #3  
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raising Stem

I did everything : Lots of abs., stretches, back exercises etc. but to no avail untill I RAISED the Stem within 21/2 Inch. from top seat height.
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Old 07-13-00, 09:46 AM
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Sir,

Something like this is best answered by someone whom can see you. I hate answering this w/o knowing you as it is usually not much help. One thing is that many of these problems are due to basic reasons and not complicated ones as many tend to think.

Raising the stem should help a bit.

Does this happen every time you ride?

One reason for lower back pain is usually in long rides or long clibs where one loads the muscles more. Also with time your butt gets loaded and then the lower back starts to "get hard". This is very common. That is why professional cyclists seek massages very often to relieve all the "tension" there.

I am speaking as a rider for many years making a living racing
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Old 01-02-06, 08:16 PM
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reverse situps do it for me everytime! and it doesn't take much. my lower back acts up on days with lots of climbing. I don't think raising your handlebar will help the lower back once you've reached a certain point. Learn to let your arms take your uper body weight.
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Old 01-02-06, 08:36 PM
  #6  
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Learn to ride with no hands. If you sit-up no handed for a half a minute to a minute every say 20 minutes, you'll feel much better.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:42 PM
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A $20.00 stem riser from REI worked great for me.
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Old 01-02-06, 10:10 PM
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Sounds like tight hamstrings to me.
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Old 01-02-06, 10:13 PM
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Seems like the only thing you haven't tried is stretching. Being limber does wonders for your comfort on the bike. Stretch before a ride, during a ride (when you stop obviously) and after the ride. I also stretch in the evenings on my off days.
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Old 01-02-06, 10:33 PM
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I raised my seat that worked for me...
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Old 01-03-06, 07:08 AM
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Stretch, stretch, stretch and especially the hamstrings as referenced above. In addition to any bike adjustments you probably already know about, you might considered your pedaling style. If you tend to turn big gears, you might experiment with smaller gears with higher cadence. Yoga is great for cycling as well. Good luck!
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Old 01-03-06, 08:20 AM
  #12  
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And another thing you might try is theraputic massage but don't take this lightly. It is EXTREMELY painful if your muscles are tight and it sounds to me like yours are.
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Old 01-03-06, 08:33 AM
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I used to think my lower back pain was caused by my bike fit. I started stretching my hamstrings, doing ALOT of crunches, added deadlifts to my workout, and started doing a medicine ball workout twice per week. I no longer get that sore lower back and I can ride for a much longer amount of time before needing to stop to stretch. I also started using my massage chair every night before I go to bed...gotta keep those muscles lose.
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Old 01-03-06, 12:40 PM
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At 43 years old, I've experienced more back pain then in previous years. I finally went to a chiropractor and a physical the******. Its helped a lot, but at a very high price. There are many exercises you can do to help, but a physical the****** could show you the ones that are needed the most. Interestingly, I have a Trek 5200. I hope its not an omen!
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Old 01-03-06, 12:48 PM
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Have a cute little Asian girl walk on your back after a day of riding!
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Old 01-03-06, 01:11 PM
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Back pain is often caused because your riding position is too low or too far forward for your fitness level. Try moving your seat back and/or your handlebars up. You will likely need a shorter and/or taller stem. The low front end riding position requires a lot of leg strength.
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Old 01-03-06, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cotaguro
After doing some tough climbs (5 miles, 11% grade), I experienced lower middle back pain (I've had some occasional pain before).
Since your butt muscles pull on the lower back... one remedy to this is to work on your core strength to balance the forces on your spine. It's not uncommon to have back problems after hard climbs if the spine is getting tugged on without enough resistance.

I'd think 5 miles of 11% would leave many of in a bit of discomfort...
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Old 01-03-06, 02:21 PM
  #18  
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You're lucky, I could deal with pain instead of having my climbing power get zapped by lower back muscle spasms. Once my lower back gets spastic, my climbing power gets reduced to smitteries, "no power from the engine room", it's like climbing at 4mph with three times the effort, really sucks!

I'm working very hard on core strength: back extensions (20 or 30 at the time), light weight training to get stronger and of course lost of stretching (I'm not naturally flexible), chiropractic help and I got me this device from Dr. Ho which is helping me a lot.

www.drhonow.com

It's the same thing Chiros use anyway but cheaper and more compact, it really provides much needed
relief from work outs, specially hilly rides. That has helped me reduced my chiro visits.

Also, try to avoid steep hills until your core is rock hard stronger.

I'm just as strong climber as my back lets me any given day.



Corsaire



Originally Posted by cotaguro
I just started road bike riding again about 4 months ago. I wasn't in "bike shape", but I had been running a couple miles and working on weights three times a week. I bought and got fitted by a LBS to a Trek 5200. After doing some tough climbs (5 miles, 11% grade), I experienced lower middle back pain (I've had some occasional pain before). I have tried the following items one at a time with the following results:

1) Lowered seat 0.25" (to prevent rocking) - no change.
2) Shortened stem from 8 cm to 6 cm (for more upright position) - no change
3) Stop carrying water in Camelbak (less weight on back) - slight improvement
4) Practiced better riding back posture - slight improvement
5) Changed seat angle downward (to change angle on back) - no change.

The other things I've heard about, but haven't tried yet are:
- chiropractic adjustment
- putting a "riser" for the handlebars (for an even more upright position)
- using a back brace
- strengthening the back with crunches & "reverse" situps

The last ride I did, I took the anti-inflamatory Motrin as a preventative measure -- it did help for a while. I stretched my back to get relief, until it started hurting again. Even though my back hurt for half the tough ride (Death Ride!), I only suffered some mild discomfort the day after (I took Motrin for relief).

Does anyone have any advice on how I can alleviate my back pain? My riding would be that much more enjoyable without the pain. Thanks for your help.

...Curtis
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Old 01-03-06, 02:44 PM
  #19  
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Corsaire: How do you do your back extensions? Do you use one of those roman chairs like you used to see on the ol highschool universal machine? I am looking for a piece of equipment that will let me do good extensions but have not seen one for under $500.00. Otherwise, the only other way I know of to do them is on the floor doing the superman pose which I think is a yoga exercise.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by whitemax
Corsaire: How do you do your back extensions? Do you use one of those roman chairs like you used to see on the ol highschool universal machine? I am looking for a piece of equipment that will let me do good extensions but have not seen one for under $500.00. Otherwise, the only other way I know of to do them is on the floor doing the superman pose which I think is a yoga exercise.
I go to a gym. That's the best way, in my opinion, to make the best use of a wide array of exercise equipment, all at you disposal at any given moment.
I use an incline padded machine at an angle of 45 degrees where I position myself facing down. I start with 10 extensions with my arms crossed (the easy way) on my chest to warm up, then 20 with my hands behind my neck (the hard way). I'm working my way to 50 in one single shot.

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Old 01-04-06, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Corsaire
I go to a gym. That's the best way, in my opinion, to make the best use of a wide array of exercise equipment, all at you disposal at any given moment.
I use an incline padded machine at an angle of 45 degrees where I position myself facing down. I start with 10 extensions with my arms crossed (the easy way) on my chest to warm up, then 20 with my hands behind my neck (the hard way). I'm working my way to 50 in one single shot.

Corsaire
Yeah, those are great machines to work out on. I can't go to a gym though. Any ideas for something to use at home?
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Old 01-04-06, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by whitemax
Yeah, those are great machines to work out on. I can't go to a gym though. Any ideas for something to use at home?
Buy a stretch ball, you can get it for $ 10.00 at the Sports Authority. You can do the same stretches and more leaning on it, plus it'll improve your balance and coordination.

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Old 01-04-06, 08:34 AM
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One full body massage per month, and soak in many a Japanese onsen.

Barring having those available, bike fit and stretching. Try yoga for flexibility.
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Old 01-04-06, 09:55 AM
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Get another bike fitting now that you know a little more about what you are feeling and experiencing on the bike. You need to make sure that you aren't creating the problem each time you ride. Personally, I've never gotten much out of the initial bike set-up. It's only after I've put some miles in that I know how to work with the person doing the fitting and end up getting a comfortable ride.

Give yourself time to adapt and adjust to the new bike fit.

Work off the bike to strengthen your core muscles. What has worked best of me has been some yoga and pilates. You'll be surprised how much you can gain on your bike when you have some body strength to anchor what you are doing with your legs. The stretching will help you avoid injuries and with recovery after hard rides as well. Just remember to take it easy as your body adapts the core exercises.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-07-06, 05:40 PM
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Reviving this thread on back pain

Nine days ago I overdid it on some hills and developed a sore lower back. It's been sore before, but this was the worst it's been. Followed this the next day with standing for 5 hours straight (shopping spree--department store having a sale, what can I say...). By the end of that next day my back was really sore. Rode a couple times afterward and while it feels OK when I ride, afterwards it seems to be getting worse. It's really a while after I stop that it starts getting bad. Now haven't ridden for 5 days as the pain is more of shooting pain in the lower lumbar region and I don't want to risk it. When I do anything mildly strenous is it really kicks in pretty much for the rest of the day. (Don't ask why I'm doing strenous things when I have back pain--just stupid is all.) Even inflating a bike tire causes the muscles in that area to contract and creates additional shooting pain which then persists for the rest of the day. Also a problem when I stand after sitting for a while. Feels like a combination muscle/nerve thing.
Questions:
1. What type of doctor should I see for this? Orthopedic surgeon (worried he'll recommend his specialty--surgery)? Sports medicine specialist? General MD? Chiropractor (do they do muscle stuff or just spinal chords)?
2. Assuming I take it easy and it gets better, are there exercises I can do while the back is recovering that will make this less likely to happen again without reinjuring things?
3. Funny but it seems like a lot of folks recommend a higher stem/more upright position, but it seems like in my situation it feels better when I'm when bent over--feel like I'm using more of my legs and less of my back. Does that make any sense? Just not up on the physiology of riding.
4. Other pointers? I know I need to start back strengthening exercises, but I'm concerned about when to start. I guess just ask the MD.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
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