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Lower Back Pain(11 posts)

Lower Back Painmontavi
May 31, 2002 7:21 AM
I know it's a common problem for cyclists. My physical therapist thinks it caused by my sacroiliac joint (the hip/upper butt area) being tight and not moving properly. Does anyone know what kind of effect biking has on the joint - does the constant leaning and repetitive leg motion make it worse? I think my bike fits me pretty well but i'm having it checked at the local shop to see if anything needs to be fine-tuned.

Any opinions or advice?

Raise them bars....retro
May 31, 2002 7:56 AM
If you're riding in the standard pro position, with your butt in the air and the bars four inches below the saddle, you might get immediate relief just by raising the bars. I did it several years ago (used to be easy with quill stems), and it worked so well I rode home and raised the bars on all my bikes. Hardly a bit of back trouble since.
Otherwise, all the advice about stretching, strength (back AND abdominal muscles) and flexibility applies. Physical therapists tend to be better at this kind of thing than doctors (my sister's one), but barring a degenerative condition, you might want to try to accommodate the bike to you, rather than forcing yourself to fit Lance's bike.
Raise them bars....tarwheel
May 31, 2002 8:25 AM
My brother was plagued by lower back and butt pain, so much that he almost quit riding. A knowledgeable bike shop suggested he try a higher stem, and the problem cleared up totally. His handlebar is now about even with the saddle, which is what Rivendell promotes. The style police might criticize you, but I guarantee you will be more comfortable and it could very well solve the back problem. I've never had back problems, but get very bad numbness in my hands when my handlebar is too low.
Sit ups. Many, Many Sit Ups.HBPat
May 31, 2002 8:08 AM
I used to have the same problem with my lower back. Partly from being a rower and because of being hunched over on my bike. A physical therapist said that doing sit ups should help and there is a really noticable difference.
When done doing sit ups...Do crunches and leg lifts...biknben
May 31, 2002 10:02 AM
Spend some time working on the abdominal muscles. Back troubles run in my family and I get them from time to time. I started doing a regimen of sit ups and such and the pain went away. Now the only time I feel pain is when I've gotten too lazy to do sit ups. I do sit ups for a week or two and the pain subsides.

In addition to time spent on the bike, I do sit ups and push ups every other night or so. I don't enjoy it, but the back pain is worse.
re: Keep hips level.dzrider
May 31, 2002 8:12 AM
If your hips rock back and forth while pedaling it tires the lower back. This can happen if your seat's high or if you move side to side to get some added leverage. Many find relief with SoftRides whose beams move side to side and allow the hips to stay level.
re: Lower Back Painzooog
May 31, 2002 8:53 AM
I think that your doing the most logical thing first in making sure the bike fits you right. I agree with the other poster in that raising your bar to your seat height. I have done this and have no more back pain. Good luck.
re: Lower Back Painpaulw
May 31, 2002 10:05 AM
Also consider adjusting the seat angle. I have a similar problem and I found angling the nose down a bit helped a lot.
more adviceTig
May 31, 2002 11:41 AM
I got this from this weeks email subscription from

Are you doing plenty of crunches? It sounds
counterintuitive, but ab strength is vital for low-back
comfort. Ed, for instance, has done up to 200 crunches a day
for years. His once-debilitating back pain rarely shows
itself anymore.

Another great exercise is back extensions, best done on the
special stand you'll find at health clubs. Be sure not to
arch your back past 180 degrees. That can hurt more than
help. Ed has a home unit and does 40 extensions after every
ride, along with the crunches.

Besides insufficient core strength, your position could be
at fault. Too long a reach or too much differential between
bar height and saddle height can fatigue/strain low-back
muscles as rides wear on. There's a lot to be said for the
benefits of a slightly shorter and taller position for long

Be sure to vary your hand position frequently to change your
back angle and lessen stiffness. Sit back and stretch every
15-20 minutes while riding, too.

Another thought: Install aero bars. Especially for rides as
long as double centuries, you can take lots of strain off
your back and shoulders by supporting your weight on your
elbows. Plus, aero bars give you 1-2 mph greater speed
without greater effort.

If these ideas don't help, find a cycling coach in your area
who can take a close look at your bike setup, riding
position and technique.

Final note: Don't expect miracles. The 12+ hours it takes to
ride a double century is a strain no matter how perfect your
position or well conditioned your body. If you can get
through a double without any back discomfort at all, I want
to know that trick!
Thanks for the advice.montavi
May 31, 2002 12:08 PM
I'm sure part of the problem is my small but flabby gut. I'll get my position checked and start working on the stomach muscles.
BE CAREFUL Use Pilates Methodjakart
May 31, 2002 5:13 PM
Easy does it.

When you do the crunches use correct form. ie knees up and flatten the small of the back. In fact that is a good way to start... no sit ups just breath out count to 5 as you flatten the small of the back to the floor.

Your P.T. should have good advice.

The Pliates Methods appealed to me as I need no gymn equip.
I am a long time surfer from the Psoas/sacroliac/hip/leg socket and have often made things worse by trying to do too much too quickly.

Good Luck Jack