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Extreme Lower Back Pain(7 posts)

Extreme Lower Back Painjaredhartman
Apr 6, 2002 10:00 PM
I went for a brisk 40 mile ride yesterday and about 15 or so miles into it my lower back started to kill me. At the halfway point I stopped to stand up and had real trouble straightening out. I am only 19 years old and in pretty good shape but haven't been road riding for a real long time. I started out cycling as mountain biker but fell in love with the road and have since become solely a road rider. I like a low bar and flat back and so the top of my bar is a couple of inches below the saddle. Sheldon Brown writes that an arched back is best and my lower back arches into my upper back which is flat. I don't know if this description is clear, but if anyone has any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated. Could it be that my top tube/stem is too long and I am streching out too much?
re: Extreme Lower Back PainDINOSAUR
Apr 6, 2002 11:25 PM
First: If your back is really bothering you, see a doctor. It's hard to tell just from your description. It could be a couple of things, or a whole bunch of things lumped together. Start with some stretching exercises. Cycling over developes your quads and does nothing for your hamstrings and consequentely causes muscle imbalance. I suffer from lower back pain also on occasion and stretching helps it. You might also check your fit and saddle height. A saddle that is too high can cause lower back pain. I prefer to have my saddle perfectly level, even a slight tilt bothers my back over a period of time. Perhaps someone can help you to make sure you are properly fitted on your bike. The top tube length is the most important. It's really hard to tell you what is wrong, but extreme pain means see a medical professional. I'd try to find someone who is experienced in fitting and have them check you while you are riding your bike. It sounds like your position. And a couple of mm's in a setting can make a big difference, one way or the other..good luck.
re: Extreme Lower Back PainSpiderman
Apr 7, 2002 9:16 AM
there are a few different theories on Fit. One that I personally prescribe to is that you want your back flat, or your spine in a neutral position (not necesarily flat for everyone). A spine is dynamic, just like the person it belongs to, for you to be comfy on a bike, it is not arched or flat, it is where your spine "falls" naturally.
Also, you want your pelvis rotated forward, that will engate the gluts (butt muscles). to test this, try standing up out of your chair without leaning forward before you get up. It is impossible. When you lean forward you engage the gluts. The position on a bike should be compared to where you are sitting on a chair that is about to be pulled out from under you- leaning forward. Just like you are skiing or the position you want to steal a base from in baseball.
Bear in mind that when you rotate your pelvis forward it will put a lot of pressure on your "soft tissue area" What you can do is actually raise the bars so you have room to do that. It will actually allow you to get lower on the bike. It sounds silly, but I have done it and everybody in my riding group has done it. If you don't believe me, try it. If it doesn't work, you can always go back to your position with "extreme lower back pain"
re: Extreme Lower Back PainPjkad
Apr 7, 2002 1:59 PM
I agree with the other posts. One additional thing to check since I had such pain and just eliminated it. Make sure your seat is not too far back. When in the drops your view of the front hub should be obscured by your bars. Mine was visible behind the bar. A 1cm move of the saddle forward and a little tilt of the saddle forward put less strain on my back immediately (presumably from less reaching and tilting my hips more foreward). Little changes can mean a lot.
psoas spasm?theBreeze
Apr 7, 2002 3:24 PM
"...and had real trouble straightening out"
Makes me consider a possible spasm or cramp in the psoas major. The muscle originates at the lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the femur. It is the primary hip flexor. If you have been bent at the hip for a while (especially if you're hammering) I suppose it could spasm, in which case it would be pulling on your low back (lumbar spine).
re: psoas spasm?jaredhartman
Apr 7, 2002 4:57 PM
Yeah, I was hammering. The wind was awful. It was a direct headwind coming right off the ocean, and I was going as fast as I could, staying in the drops. My lower back usually gets sore, but that day was unlike any other. Do you know of any possible cures or relief other than just stopping? I have moved my saddle forward some to try to limit how much I have to bend.
stop & stretchtheBreeze
Apr 7, 2002 6:32 PM
Pain is a message that you need to stop (even temporarily) what you are doing. Hey, we're cyclists and as such we are all gluttons for pain and punishment. But sometimes it's worth it to back off a little and take care of it.

So if it happens again, stop, stretch it out and you can probably get going again. Do a quad stretch (foot behind you, knee directly below your hip) and focus on keeping your hip joint straight, even imagine "pushing" it forward a little. Be gentle as you don't want to overstrain the muscles. To avoid it in the future, turn around and ride the tailwind! Or if you can't do that, spin in a easier gear.