Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

lower back pain

Old 02-13-11, 06:30 PM
  #1  
ubringliten
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lower back pain

Hi folks,

Starting two months ago, I got my first fixed gear bike and rode for a couple of weeks without any pain until I helped out a friend moved. I strained my back from it. And it's been two months now that my lower back is still hurting every time after biking.

Do you think it's possible that the back pedaling to brake put strain on my back? I used to ride freewheel and never had this problem. I'm 37.

Any suggestion to reduce the back pain? Recently, I started some core strengthening I got my the web. Hope it helps.

Thanks,

Chris
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Old 02-13-11, 06:38 PM
  #2  
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I have been finding out that climbing on a fixed is more of a whole body workout than on a geared bike. If you are pulling up a lot on the handlebars it really works your back muscles. Could this be the issue? Is it really a pain or just a soreness? If it is pain related to the moving injury then maybe you just need some time off the bike. And/or see a doctor.
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Old 02-13-11, 08:36 PM
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You injured your back.

Your bike has nothing to do with it.

Fix your back.

If you don't have medical insurance that will pay for a physical the******, see if you can find a Feldenkrais (Awareness Through Movement) Class that will let you pay by the class (usually $10-$12).

If you live in a community with a Community Athletic Center, YMCA, YMHA (etc), they might offer inexpensive back injury classes or soft Yoga classes (some Yoga pertains only to healthy people).

Failing those options, learn to sit in chairs without letting your back touch the back of the chair (hard at first but eventually easy and comfortable).

Also, try spending 10 minutes each morning laying on your back on the floor with your feet up in a chair; sort of sitting in a chair on your back on the floor; and relax.

If you have your handlebars typically low, so that you have to raise your head in order to see in front of you, this will delay healing in your lower back.

Try temporarily riding with a more erect position so that you have a more relaxed neck (the neck and the lower back echo each other).
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Old 02-13-11, 08:54 PM
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Were you fitted to your bike?
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Old 02-13-11, 10:45 PM
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^ that is what I'm wondering.
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Old 02-14-11, 12:56 AM
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Zoltani: thanks for the insight about fixed gear supposed to strenghten the back. No, it's pain. I love riding, so darn it's going to be difficult.

Ken Cox: yes, I do have medical insurance. I just don't like to see doctors until I run out of options. They just run you so many tests and takes up so much time. Thanks for the workout tip though. I will try that.

Nuhtowel and Motopercane: no, I got my bike online and I bike fitted myself. I have an appt. to bike-fit next weekend. Do you think improper fitting or not fitting at all can screw one's back? I thought bike fitting only helps the legs, buttocks or knees.
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Old 02-14-11, 12:59 AM
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Oh, I have a medical plan that I can see any specialist. Which specialist do you think I should go first? Physical the****** like Ken suggested.
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Old 02-14-11, 01:03 AM
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I just sold a Motobecane that didn't have a long enough distance from the seat to the stem and so it hunched me. On long rides my lower bad would hurt after. Also it can hurt your stomach bringing your legs so close to it.

Sounds like you probably just did damage your back and biking isn't allowing it to heal. Best of luck to you I now how much back pain sucks I have fallen arches... :/
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Old 02-14-11, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ubringliten View Post
Oh, I have a medical plan that I can see any specialist. Which specialist do you think I should go first? Physical the****** like Ken suggested.
See a general physician and talk about the possibility of you herniating a disc. If it comes to it or if even casually suggested, get an MRI.

Many back injuries that turn into multiple back injuries started out as a "back strain" or whatever people tell themselves they think it was. The only thing you can do to help prevent further injury is by strengthening your core and there is no magical formula to this. Back extensions, obliques, abs, crunches, and cable pull-downs are just a few of the exercises to get you to a stronger core.

Most back injuries are a result of the improper posture caused by weak core muscles. Unfortunately with age your core deteriorates faster than your primary lifting muscles. It's a natural design flaw.

You need to determine the amount of damage in your back. L3-L5 are the 3 most commonly damaged vertebrate discs. The lighter the injury the greater chance of a near-full recovery. But just be very clear on something: if you have ANY damage to one of your discs, you will NEVER fully recover. You have to hammer that fact into your head moving forward. The more you know about your injury the better protected you will be against further injury.

The most disappointing news I've ever received in my life was the fact that at the age of 29 I have suffered from permanent, irreparable back damage.

It may be nothing. It's probably not though. Either way, don't spare any expense at this stage, or at any stage where you experience any type of back pain. It's VERY easy to recover from a mildly slipped disc - only to worsen it from lack of knowledge.
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Old 02-14-11, 01:25 AM
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I hate to scare you but recurring back pain is a really bad sign of long-term injury. Get an x-ray at a very minimum. If you can afford it, get an MRI.
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Old 02-14-11, 07:40 AM
  #11  
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I'm supposed to be young and invincible, but the fitment on my bike made my back and knees feel awful until I adjusted it correctly.
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Old 02-14-11, 10:07 AM
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To a boy with a hammer the world looks like a nail.

If you go to a surgeon, what will he see?

Ask around for a doctor who has a reputation for prescribing physical therapy.

In order for your insurance to pay for physical therapy, a physician must prescribe physical therapy.

With prescription in hand, look for a Physical The****** who advertises him or her self as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

If your community has a Physical The****** who practices Feldenkrais, consider yourself blessed.

In any event, Feldenkrais or not, go to a Physical The******.
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Old 02-14-11, 10:57 AM
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Long story short, take care of the problem now or you could be off a bike for good.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:39 AM
  #14  
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FWIW, once your back problem is sorted out, you may find that cycling (especially climbing on a FG) really helps you feel better and ward off further probs. I find it a great antidote to sitting in front of a compy all day for work.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:44 AM
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Bayer Extra pain relief.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:51 AM
  #16  
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If you're health insurance covers it...

1. Recommended Sports Dr. in the area
2. MRI, X-Rays are ghetto and wont show much for a back injury, its 2011
3. Physical Therapy!!!! Go to a really good one. Its going to be years of this to make your back better. There will be a lot of "core" training. Depending on what you did to your back, you may have to learn how to walk, sit, drive, bike differently using different muscles. This may be a life long injury that you will always have to keep in mind while doing anything physical.
4. Take it seriously, we all want to be able to bike when we're 60. This injury may prevent that.
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Old 02-14-11, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ubringliten View Post
I just don't like to see doctors until I run out of options. They just run you so many tests and takes up so much time.
I have also suffered from non-bike related back pain and your symptoms sound a lot like what I dealt with. First off, do go see the doctor. The tests might be time consuming but consider the time wasted not riding your bike because your back hurts - this seems to be an even greater waste of time to me. Get over your ego and avail yourself of the resources at hand. It's even covered, for chrissakes!

Okay, enough preaching. I hurt my back badly (no disc damage, it was muscle) and eventually recovered. However, my body healed by compensating in some areas and training itself to not use the injured muscles. This eventually came back to haunt me, especially when I started biking again. I ended up going to physio to get help with teaching my body to use those neglected muscles again - they used that electic stimulator thing to contract the muscles in a controlled manner. Felt kind of weird at the time and I was wiped out for about 2 weeks after that. But it got my back started.

Overall, my recovery had me increase my physical activity, and I decided to include more biking into that routine. What I soon noticed was that I would bike, get a workout and within a day or two end up tweaking my back again. Or at least feeling a 'tiredness' in my back. It was the muscles that were compensating for my core back muscles again. The workout was getting them tired, but my regular day routine at the office was already enough to do that so the over exertion would lead to stress or further injury.

Your back injury is likely going to be with you the rest of your life. It will be manageable, but you will have to make adjustments in your daily routine to manage it better. The good news is it means you will likely still be able to ride, even competitively if you choose to do so. But do go see some doctors and get proper guidance, rather than just doing something the internet told you to do. Take advantage of professional opinions because it's the back you are going to have to live with.
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Old 02-14-11, 02:36 PM
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Ibuprofen.
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Old 02-14-11, 03:04 PM
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What everyone else said about going to the doctor.

I had a herniated disc a few years ago, and still have some residual discomfort, and muscle spasms. A couple of things you can do to reduce the pain are stretch (especially before doing any physical activities like riding a bike), take ibuprofen, and apply an ice pack, or heat pack to your back. In the long term strengthening your core should also help. Google stretches, and core exercises specifically for back injuries as some core exercises put a lot of strain on the back and may cause further injury.

You may also want to try raising your handlebars, and bringing your bike to a shop to make sure everything fits proper.

And of course go to the doctor, back injuries are nothing to mess around with.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:16 PM
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There have been many great suggestions made in this thread. I too, have back issues(S4,S5 & S5,L1 ruptured discs) and everyday my back reminds me of those problems. That said, cycling has rarely, if ever, bothered my back. I think with proper bike fit, core training, ibuprofen and LOTS of stretching you will be back in the saddle. Good luck and get an MRI.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:48 PM
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Slipped a disc, no insurance.

Crawled on all fours out of work and into a cab.

Crawled into an Osteopathic emergency room.

Doc gave my back a wrench that felt like being electrocuted.

But I walked out of there.

Next couple of years was a long slow road back.

See a Doc, get PT, and then keep going. Make your back strong.
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Old 02-16-11, 01:43 AM
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Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the great tips and advice. I am seeing a general practitioner next week. I am lucky because the doc is a triathlon athlete and knows a little about sports medicine.

Can always count on this forum!

Chris
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Old 02-16-11, 07:06 AM
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in the meantime: maybe try dropping the ratio on your gears for a few days or so and see if the pain subsides. sometimes the single-gear-for-all-occasions can put extra strain on our lower backs if we're not careful, particularly when taking off from a standstill.
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Old 02-16-11, 07:42 AM
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I have chronic lower back pain as a result of leading a very active life but mostly because I strained my back severely trying to lift a tree in the woods. it was skinny and blocked the road. even skinny trees are heavy, especially if they are long. I'm still quite strong and all the core training in the world won't prevent a back strain episode. hunching over is the worst for me, such as pushing a couch up 3 flights of stairs with little help from others. stuff like that requires a 3 week recovery for me. my part time job includes heaving heavy bags of concrete and lumber but if I'm careful I deal with just moderate back discomfort. things that speed recovery from episodes include two back massagers and hot soaks with epsom salt. I also stretch prior to physical exertions. using a good back massager properly is an art, well maybe not art but you get batter at it the more you learn about it and your back. it's a process that sometimes takes 30 minutes. a hot soak plus a back massage is amazing.

this is what I have:

This one is easy to use on a daily basis - leave it setup and use it every day until your episode is over
http://bestbackmassager.com/
Back Shiatsu Massage Cushion

This is my best one, but this one is updated with heat - that sounds great. This type will bring you an altered state of consciousness. Keep an open mind and relax your back while you lay face down. It's a little awkward but if you take your time you can navigate it using your own hands. It's heavy but you can push down with it for more pressure if you want. Work it into the spots where it hurts and relax. Tilt your pelvis forward occasionally. Also you can pull your skin in one direction allowing the knobs to work deeper. If it hurts when you use it then you're using it right. Take breaks and do it some more. Take your time. The relief comes when you stop using it. Just lie there and let the fluids move around and migrate. When done, I like to get off the bed by sliding feet first face down using and twisting my back as little as possible.
http://www.handheldbackmassager.org/...2-attachments/
Homedics PA-5H The****** Select Compact Percussion Massager.

Tylenol PM helps too at bedtime, even durign daytime if you'll be sitting at the office, etc. but you won't be your sharpest. Prescription muscle relaxers, a kind of salt, work the best to get those muscles out of spasm. But those affect everything and you have to take a break from personal training, (which my wife says makes me cranky) then when you stop using them you have to get back into training gradually. It may be a lost week, but if you can't walk you need the proper treatment.

cycling doesn't bother my back, but I would use caution riding or doing any personal training during an episode. treat the injury and recover, then get back on that bike and have a good time.

Last edited by rumrunn6; 02-16-11 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 02-16-11, 08:13 AM
  #25  
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I was a lucky one and was diagnosed with a slipping disc in my back when I was 20. the only thing that helped was physical therapy .
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