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Road newbie lower back pain question...(13 posts)

Road newbie lower back pain question...BowWow
Oct 24, 2002 10:31 PM
I just bought my first road bike after three years on a great-fitting MTB. After about an hour on the road bike my lower back begins to ache, and I get a pain right between my shoulder blades at the base of my neck. I've got the stem pulled up so the top of the stem is about 1" below the top of my seat, and when I'm on the hoods or in the drops the bar obscures the front hub (like it says in all the books). Where should I start adjusting, if at all? Or do I just need to get used to the new position?

need to try some different things for a solutionbigrider
Oct 25, 2002 3:55 AM
Lower back pain and lower neck pain.

Here are some suggestions to try:

You may have your saddle height a little too high and are rocking back and forth because you are reaching at the bottom of your stroke. Lower the saddle and try it out.

Your stem may need raised a little more. Don't worry about what it is like for others, you will change after you ride a couple of years.

You may be hunching your back and locking your arms and being tense in your upper body. Road riding is about keeping your upper body still and relaxed during normal riding conditions.


Find an old experienced roadie and ask him if you can ride with him/her and ask them to critique your form and setup while you ride. It will help solve your present problem and put you light years ahead on your form.
re: A few things to trydzrider
Oct 25, 2002 4:26 AM
Tip the nose of your seat up.

Lower your bars then rotate them so the hoods are higher.

Try to keep your elbows bent and your hands resting lightly on the bars.
fitness not fit....C-40
Oct 25, 2002 4:43 AM
Everyone seems to think that aches and pains mean that something is wrong with the fit of the bike. If you have the bars only 1" below the saddle, that's not the problem. A fit rider can tolerate up to 4" below the saddle.

The saddle height suggestion may be legitimate. You should be able to drop your heel slightly below the horizontal at the bottom of the stroke, with your leg locked out. If you can't the saddle is higher than most people can tolerate.

The more likely problem is a lack of fitness. Neck, back and abdominal strengthening exercises are the answer.
Yeah, I really need to work on this one...BowWow
Oct 25, 2002 9:43 AM
I'm about 10 pounds heavy (195, trying for 180 - 185) and really need to work on the abs. I was wondering if this would help. They say stronger abs helps with back pain...

The long, cold, dark winter is about to set in here in the Great White North, so I'll get to work on the abs and neck along with an hour on the trainer a day.

Thanks for the advice!

Do you have a fax number?gregario
Oct 25, 2002 9:57 AM
I've been having fairly severe low back pain from riding as well. I finally went to a therapist and he gave me several exercises to do. Surprisingly, he recommended staying away from crunches. I haven't been doing the exercises yet (non-compliant patient) but what he said makes sense. He said my hamstrings are too tight so that I'm imbalanced (I may not be getting it exactly right so don't jump on it...). Anyway, I can send you the exercises OR you can go to your doctor yourself. I also think a higher stem would help and maybe a shorter reach.
Do you have a fax number?BowWow
Oct 25, 2002 8:15 PM


Do you have a fax number?gregario
Oct 26, 2002 7:26 AM
hopefully I'll remember to send them on Monday.
First thing...focus on saddle position rather the stem.MXL02
Oct 25, 2002 6:13 AM
measure your inseam (go to wrench science or Colorado cyclist to find out how)

multiply by .883. This should be your saddle height from the center of the bottom bracket. This is a fairly accurate but not iron clad guide, you may need to go up or down one cm. Another good rule of thumb is to put your bike on a trainer and backpedal with your heels on the pedals...your heel should just barely touch the pedals without sliding your hip off the saddle.

Put you bike on a trainer, make sure it is level, and use a plumb bob to make sure you knee is over the pedal spindle. This is hard to do alone, so you may want to go to an LBS to help with this.

Get a level to make sure your saddle is level, not tipped forward or back.

Once you have done all these, adjust the stem length and rise until you are comfortable. Don't worry about looks or what other people say, do what is best for you. Once your saddle is positioned correctly, the rest of the "cockpit" should be adjusted for comfort.

Also agree with comment on fitness...the roadie crouch takes some getting used requires must keep your upper body and arms relaxed, with the majority (60%)of the weight on your saddle, or hand numbness, or arm/shoulder pain will result.
RE the plumb bob thing...BowWow
Oct 25, 2002 9:49 AM
I've seen bikes with the set-back seat post, which would put the knee behind the pedal spindle, wouldn't it? What's the purpose of the set-back post?

Depends on the frame geometry...see the epx post below. nmMXL02
Oct 25, 2002 1:45 PM
Try standingfiltersweep
Oct 25, 2002 7:17 AM
before you do anything too radical, try standing once in awhile- especially on hills- it can make a huge difference.
Thanks for all the great suggestions! (nm)BowWow
Oct 25, 2002 9:50 AM