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Easy question...Lower back pain?(17 posts)

Easy question...Lower back pain?ridenc
Dec 7, 2003 2:56 PM
I am sure this is an easy question for most of you, but I am still fairly new to road biking. What causes lower back pain when riding? I am hoping I can just make an adjustment in the bike and do not need an entirely new one to correct. Thanks!
10 percent bike fit, 90 percent physiological issues. (nm)Breakfast
Dec 7, 2003 3:03 PM
10 percent bike fit, 90 percent physiological issues. (nm)ridenc
Dec 7, 2003 3:11 PM
Can you give me a little more? I can ride a hybrid for hours and never feel back pain.
It's just............Mike Tea
Dec 7, 2003 3:53 PM
.....not possible for anyone to diagnose your backpain over the internet. All anyone can do at best is to give you, as you already received, two broad areas to pursue - bike fit and physiological.

I'd suggest you seek the expertise of two types of people - an expert in bike fit and a Physiotherapist. Only they, upon seeing you and using diagnosis, can suggest a remedy.
re: Easy question...Lower back pain?lyleseven
Dec 7, 2003 5:27 PM
Generally, one of the most common causes of back pain while cycling if it is due to the bike (which I believe to be the case in about 50% of the cases as opposed to 10%) is too long of a top tube, i.e., being stretched out too far. I shortened my stem length and 90% of my back pain went away.
anyone else? does "too long" causes lower back pain?Drone 5200
Dec 7, 2003 5:57 PM
I had always assumed it was just the opposite.
not an easy questionDrone 5200
Dec 7, 2003 6:09 PM
I got my bike about 10 months ago. Had a good fit session and I think the fit is pretty good.

After about 1,500 miles total riding I woke up with a bad case of lower back pain that had no apparent cause. I didn't think I over did it on the bike the day before.

I went to a physical therapist who showed me some exercises and stetches. It's helped, but the pain still comes and goes. It's hard to say what to do to avoid it. Ibuprophen helps. Stretching the hamstrings also helps.

People will say to raise your bars, but mine were already at zero drop. As I've stretched my hamstrings to where I can now comfortably touch my toes, I've lowered the bars. I've got a 2.5" drop now. It feels ok. But mild stints of the back pain come back from time to time.

I'd love to hear the experiences of others.
Also look a core strengthKerry Irons
Dec 7, 2003 6:51 PM
How strong are your abdominal and back muscles. Core strength is a problem for many cyclists. Doing crunches, "superman" (leg and torso lifts while on stomach), and pressing the small of your back into the floor while on your back are three great exercises for core strength and reduction in back pain. It will take months to get the strength, but then it is easy to maintain.
Also look a core strengthswimbikerun75
Dec 8, 2003 7:39 AM
I swear by core strength and flexibility now. I have always had lower back pain while riding until recently. I spent ten times more time in the gym taking weight training/aerobics classes that stress core strength and promote flexibility, and less time on the bike. Rode the 109 mile Tour de Tucson with only having ridden a long ride of 36 miles prior to the event. No lower back pain.
re: Easy question...Lower back pain?snapdragen
Dec 7, 2003 7:38 PM
My chiropractor told me she notices many of her patient's that are cyclists have lower back problems, due to tight hamstrings. I find if I stretch, my back problems are almost nonexistant. That and good core strength, mentioned in another post. I do Pilates for that - works wonders.

re: Easy question...Lower back pain?ridenc
Dec 7, 2003 8:21 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I guess it wasn't as easy a question as I thought. I'll try stretching more and the core strength exercises and see how it goes from there.
Stretch, sit ups, shorter reach...lyleseven
Dec 7, 2003 8:40 PM
Stretching is important. Crunches are the very slowest way to build abs. Do regular sit ups (no they don't injure your back, that's the old folklore). Sit ups will get you where you want to be about 4 times as fast as crunches. My physical therapist claims that being stretched out too far is most common cause of low back pain.
Good job on doing something about it now.hrv
Dec 7, 2003 8:51 PM
I rode for a year with back pain (mostly on long, steep climbs) and just started doing something about it, hopefully didn't do too much damage.

My input:

1. Any way to set up your road bike like your hybrid, measuring middle of saddle to handlebars, saddle height in relation to handlebars, seat height, etc, and see if it goes away? Forget about being aero for now, seek comfort.

2. Maybe you've been putting in too many miles, too soon?
Does it hurt immediately? 5 miles in,10, 20? Doing 20 miles one ride, and 40 the next might be too much for your body to get used to, bump it up gradually, 10 - 15%.

3. Some people can be strong on the bike with no stretching or core work -- I'm not one of them! Maybe the same is true of you. But the thing to remember is not all core work is created equal nor is our bodies. Core building doesn't just mean doing crunches and back extensions. I've started using a fitness ball and that's been a boon in my recovery. See this link for exercises: If your back problems persist it might be wise to get it checked out by a PT, etc., or piling on core work might do more harm than good ,depending on if your problems are, as the above poster mentioned, physiological in nature.

4. Do you stretch? Might have to start that also. Yes, hamstrings are important, but hip flexor stretches are as important. I guess any muscle that connects to the lower back should be stretched at some point,cause it's gonna get worked!

5. How's your posture off the bike? If it's not spot on, work on getting it so, or problems will be magnified on the bike.

6. Might be wise to get a bike fit by someone who has a good rep. , someone who fits the bike to you, not you to the bike , as in harping on having to have a flat back , dropping the bars, etc. Either that or do some searches on bike fit and start experimenting. Measure first, then change stuff a few millimeters at a time.

No easy answers, but a good place to start is comparing your road bike to your hybrid. No reason you can't be as comfortable. Remember to build up gradually.

Good luck and have fun,
Yes............Mike Tea
Dec 8, 2003 6:34 AM PT (I ride with her and mechanic for her) almost ordered me to start a fitness ball routine. Heck she even gave me one.

My diagnosis is a degenerated Multifidus muscle - it's now agreed that this muscle is at the root cause of many back-related problems. Googling multifidus will bring up a pile of info.
Strenght training is the key?Marcus75
Dec 7, 2003 11:46 PM
I'm new to road biking too and fortunately no back pains. Go to the gym and start strenghtening your back muscles!
All of the above, plus............Len J
Dec 8, 2003 4:48 AM
how flat is your back when you ride?

A "rolled" (non-flat) back on a road bike can contribute to lower back pain as it puts the spine in amn unnatural position.

To flatten the back, get into your normal position, and push your abdoman toward the top tube. The only way to accomplish this is to "roll forward" on your sit bones. By "rotating" your pelvis forward as you push your abdoman towards the top tube, your back will flatten. Notice how much easier this is on both your back and your neck (rotate your pelvis, flatten your back, and you don't have to scrunch your neck to be able to see forward).

This will feel odd at first & will put pressure on different muscles in your torso, so try it for a little while until you build up stamina.

Good Luck.

All of the above, plus............ridenc
Dec 8, 2003 10:07 AM
Thanks again for all of the feedback! I believe a combination of all of the above is contributing to the problem. I am not out-of-shape, but the core does need strengthening. The shop I bought my bike from did not spend much time helping fit me to the bike. I have an offer from another shop where I bought my shoes to help with the fitting my bike, I am going to take them up on the offer. I may have to look into a new saddle also. The one that came on my bike is more comfortable than I had anticipated, but it does not have the center "cut-out". My butt feels fine in the seat, but it is harsh on the "sensitive areas" so I have a tendency to keep my hips rolled back and this most likely is keeping my back rolled and contributing to the back pain. I think it is worth the time and effort to work on all of these to correct the problem.