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back pain - Help!(8 posts)

back pain - Help!vmj
Mar 28, 2002 4:10 PM
I've recently become an avid road cyclist, having fallen in love with the sport on my mountain bike.
But I've got a problem, I purchased a road bike last year (a fairly expensive one); and I can't seem to get comfortable on it.
Here's the scenario: about 25-30 minutes into a ride (8-10 miles for me) my lower back starts to hurt. Sitting up in the saddle (no hands) alleviates the pain temporarily, and the pain is gone when I get off the bike.

I have no idea what might be causing this pain (I never had any problems on my mtb), but I would _really_ appreciate any suggestions PLEASE. I could ride so much faster and further if I were comfortable...

I used to have the same problem...Bigburlymtnman
Mar 28, 2002 6:44 PM
Don't bend at the back. Instead, try to bend at the waist as much as possible, use it sort of like a pivot. Also the frame may be too big? But probably not if you invested a lot of money into it. Just try the back worked for me.

ExercisesKerry Irons
Mar 28, 2002 7:51 PM
I've not had back pain from cycling, but I've had it from downhill skiing, and I cured it by doing ab crunches, "superman", and pressing the small of my back into the floor. I was reminded of this just yesterday when my wife commented that she hadn't had a sore back in the past three years since she started working out a the gym. You need to balance the muscle groups.
Go see a doctorNessism
Mar 29, 2002 4:21 AM
Riding a road bike makes the spine bend quite a bit in the lower back. This bending puts pressure on the disks and forces them into a wedge shape. With time and age, the disks can deteriorate causing pain. How do I know this? My doctor told me about six weeks ago - I have two deteriorated disks.

Therapy will help build up the tissue around the disks providing support. You may not have any disk issues at all but it's best to understand first just to be safe.

A couple of things..DINOSAUR
Mar 29, 2002 6:45 AM
Low back problems are common for us aging road cyclist. (Speaking for myself).

First: Are you riding the correct size bike? If your TT is too long, after a period of time, that's what will bother you.

Second: Check your position. I've found I feel more comfortable if I'm spread out. Your spine will be least apt to feel all the jarring and vibration. Low back pain can be contributed by a saddle height that is too high. A change of just a few mm can work wonders. Make sure you bike is set up correctly.

Third: Try a ti railed saddle if you don't have one. If you ride an al bike it will help dampen out the ride.

Fourth: What psi are you running in your tires and what size are you using? I've found the Michelins run larger than the Conti's (23's) you might try a 25 in the rear.

Fifth: Cycling has a tendency to over develope your quads and weaken your hamstrings. Over a period of time the quads will over power the hams and you will feel it in your lower back. Try some stretching exercises.

It could be all of the above, or just one simple little thing. I'd try the saddle height first, that helped me.

And if all else fails, you might be riding the wrong size bike.

Keep in mind also that road cycling takes litterally years for your body to adapt. Give it some time. You are using different muscles than your MB due to the change in your position. That might be the key right there.

Good luck,
Dino with the aging back.
Same problemlaffeaux
Mar 29, 2002 9:10 AM
I mountain biked for years without back pain, but road riding killed me. Like you, my lower back would ache, and on long downhills, my neck would get sore as well. In a final desperate attempt to improve things I bought a larger frame. The pain is now gone!

I went from a 56cm (top tube) bike to a 59cm, although the stem on the new bike is 3cm shorter so the cockpit stayed about the same.. The front end is higher, due to the larger frame (although I had moved from a stem with negative rise to one with positive rise on the old bike with no positive results).

In any event I can't tell you how to fix it, but I can tell you that it's fit related. Go to a bike shop and ask them to help figure it out.

It's frustrating to be able to ride a MTB pain free, but do the same ride on a road bike and feel pain. The reason I finally bought a new frame, was that I found that I was riding my mountain bike on long road rides because it was more comfortable.

Good luck.
Mar 29, 2002 12:12 PM

All good suggestions above: balance muscle groups, verify bike fit, etc. Like you, I rode mtb seriously for many years, and got into road biking big time a year ago.

I had always been able to pretty much bend over and lay my palms flat on the floor, so I figured I was plenty flexible. But, I experienced some lower back stiffnes on longer (3-4 hrs) rides, too. Turns out that my hamstrings and hip flexors were actually pretty tight, and that was causing me some problems. I now do a fairly comprehensive complete body stretching pgm. (20 min or so) every day, and that has increased my overall riding comfort tremendously.

Realize that you are locked into the same position for hours on end on a road bike, as compared to moving all over the place on your mtb. Flexibility is extremly important. Get a good book on stretching exercises and come up with a daily program for yourself, and/or take a yoga class. It will go a long way in helping you get comfortable on the bike.

Good luck!
re: back pain - Help!vmj
Mar 29, 2002 7:10 PM
Thanks for the tips everyone. I don't think it's age, as I'm 25. I've been stretching lately and also ab and back work 3-4 times a week in the gym. It may be that I will get used to it (I've only got ~500 miles on the bike), but I kinda doubt it.

I just adjusted my saddle, but I adjusted it up. I don't _think_ it's too high - there's still a slight bend in my leg at the bottom of the stroke.

I've got a sinking feeling that the frame is too large.

I think that on monday I'll start looking for a pro that will take my money and tell me what the heck is wrong with me or the frame.

Thanks again for all the replies.