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Back trouble

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Old 10-26-05, 06:11 PM
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flyefisher
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Back trouble

So this season was good for me. Coming out on all cylinders in the spring I raced a couple of 2nd places and a slew of top 10s. I got my cat 3 upgrade by mid season. I'm 32 years old and in 3 years went from 205 and out of shape to 155 as a decent cat 3. I'm psyched for this.

Then I got into my home remodeling. Soon after my back started bothering me. It's a general lower back pain - not emanating elsewhere in my body. I'm sure it's a combination of biking stress, home remodeling and older age contributing. When I ride it does not hurt - until I get off. then it gets real stiff. Sometimes it's hard to bend over to take my shoes off.

I spent a few sessions with the chiropractor and it got better. Then over last weekend I lifted, albeit very carefully, some heavy stuff around the house. Now the pain is back.

Question to any of you out there - have you experienced this and were you able to make it better short-term or long-term? I am thinking to start lifting/doing situps again to strengthen it but I don't want to make it worse....
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Old 10-26-05, 06:48 PM
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Sit-ups are fine for the belly, but you need back-specific exercises more. Most likely your stomach muscles are much stronger than the back and that's partly the problem.

Short-term solution is to back off the volume of work you're doing to stress the back. Do a little less home-remodeling and a little less riding. Each time you feel it acting up, you're doing damage and setting yourself backwards in recovery.

Long-term solution is to build up the lower-back muscles in strength and size so that they are not stressed at 100% when doing what you consider "normal" exertions. You'll want them strong enough so that they're only exerting at 50% or less.

I had similar problem when I first started bike-racing in my late-teens. I had 13-years of football (soccer) under my belt along with lots of cross-country running, track 110-hurdles, wrestling, etc. So right off the bat, I was a pretty strong cyclist with fairly well developed legs and lungs. HOWEVER, none of those previous sports required a very strong back and that was the one muscle that ended up getting pulled when I went too gung-ho too fast too soon.

I needed about 1 month of bed-rest, lots of pain-killers and muscle-relaxants. PT and chiropractic in the 2nd month. By the 3rd month, I was put in the gym to work on the lower-back muscles specifically. Weighted exercises like back-raises and the deadlift were prescribed and over the course of the next month, my weights on those increased by 3-4x. The back-raises is the exact opposing exercise to the sit-ups. You bend at your stomach over a bench hook your feet under and gently lift your upper-body to slightly above horizontal. This directly works the muscles that's sore on you right now. Then add weights as they get stronger. I ended up with two 20-lb weights held on the back of my neck. Next you can progress to deadlifts to build up even more strength in the lower back. Finally squats will also help your glutes as well.

By the end of the 3rd month, I was able to get back on the bike again. Haven't had any back problems since and even working on the car all day on the weekends won't have me ending up with a sore and tired back.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-26-05 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 10-26-05, 08:51 PM
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Sounds like you really got hammered. Last winter I lifted for three months and got my lower back pretty strong. Problem is it got harder to work out after January with my wife having bad pregnancy sickness. I've resolved to working out in my basement this winter. I need to strengthen my torso by winter's end.

I actually did some back lifts with my curling bar this evening and felt better, ironically. Not very much weight and not very many reps. I'm thinking to buy a roman chair - I used to go to the gym and use one there but with a new baby it's easier for me to work out in my basement. I was fine until I did any lifting of heavy objects - even though I was real careful to lift with my legs. Biking can irritate it depending on how hard I go - this time of year I only need to go easy so it's ok.

Good advice, thanks a lot. How bad was your back pain during that first month. I mean, were you not able to even walk around much?
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Old 10-27-05, 06:22 AM
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You really need to strengthen your back now. I first hurt my back trying to snap the baby carrier into the base which was in the middle if the car. My back hasn't been not sore ever since. It gets worse when they get to be 25+ pounds and you're at Target buying diapers and they're hungry and you have to hang on to them in the crook of one arm while fumbling for your wallet in the other.

Good luck Parenthood is wonderful.
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Old 10-28-05, 11:35 AM
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I have a 'bad back'. MRI & X-Rays confirmed I have a compeltely squashed L5/S1 disk, some bone misalignment, sciatic nerve constriction per MRI (but surprsingly to Dr. no numbness in legs) Have general back pain, but episodes of excrutiating spasms - unable to walk let alone crawl, nearly puking pain. No specific reason for this, perhaps cumulative over the years with some genetics ?

Saw back specialist to learn all this. PT is/was intial plan. It involved a variety back and hamstring stretching, ab work (not sit ups, too much stress) but crunches (where you lift just shoulders off table) and eventually strenghtening for different motions (i.e. keeping abs tight while doing other motions). Not possible to describe here, nor would it be appropriate for other peoples situations. Anyway all the PT is only to help, a stop gap until things get worse.

But the bottom line is you need to get root cause understood (is it muscle, is it disks, other) and have targeted PT - the way the exercises are done exactly right is very important so as not to stress the back more.

For me this situation means absolutely no running or mountain biking. Too much shock on back. Thats why I ride my cyclocross bike on the road only now, missing my favorite part of riding 4wd trails and singletrack.

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Old 10-28-05, 11:57 AM
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find a good masseusse... they can work wonders.... that has worked far better for me than a chiropractor ever did...
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Old 10-28-05, 09:03 PM
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I also have a bad back (degenerative discs, L4-L5 is the worst). Since you race, I won't bother recommending a recumbent like I ride.........lol.

I remembered that exercises I did years ago during pt for my back helped a lot, so last year I went looking for a back exercise video and found a very good one called "Healthy Abs and Back", from the University of Michigan Medical School Spine Program. It's just $11, including shipping, and can be found at: http://www.med.umich.edu/pmr/spine/video.htm.
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