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Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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I was riding a hybrid for ~ 5 years, before deciding to upgrade to a nicer bike. I ended up buying a 2010 Giant Defy 1 about a year ago. I commute ~ 10km each way at least 3 or 4 times a week without too many hills, so the new bike shaved a few minutes off each way. Nice.
I love the bike, but the problem is the bike doesn't love me... After about a month on the bike I started getting a really sore back, lower and mid section. Off to the physio and he said my flexibility wasn't good enough, I have a small scoliosis, and my core strength needed improving. I could ride my old bike without any pain, but after a couple of hundred meters on the new bike I was in pain. So, every day I would ride my bike to work, and then do about 20 minutes of stretching and push up and sit ups. With that routine I had no real problems unless I over did it. If I forgot to stretch for a couple of days in a row I'd know about it. I also flipped the stem and tilted the bar up a bit, which also really improved the situation making me a little more upright.
Then came the knee pain. If I rode once a week it was ok, but riding a couple of times a week or more and the knees would pack up. Started clicking loudly and hurting to walk on. First thing I did was stop riding and give the knees time to heal. After a couple of weeks I started riding again but the problem returned. Was using Shimano M520's, so tried tinkering with seat position and cleat angle, but everything made it worse and I decided the bike shop had set me up optimally to begin with. So, instead of spending a bunch of cash on better pedals that allow 'float' i bought $10 flats. Problem solved, and I liked the convenience of not having to take 2 pairs of shoes with me.
Now that it's winter it's harder to do a long stretching session every time I ride the bike > 5km. Last week I rode the bike 4 times, including once to hockey and back which would have been around 90 km all up (over 7 days), and as a consequence I was so sore I haven't been back on the bike since.
What frustrates me is that I see a lot of fat older guys flying around on their road bikes, no stretching riding > 60 km at a time and probably feeling OK. I'm 26, 6'3" ~ 93 kg, and if I ride more than 10 km I feel it through my back. I was willing to put in the hard work to help my back during the summer, but now the convenience of commuting on a bike is gone.
I'm now considering selling the road bike, and buying a new flat bar road bike with what I can get for it (i.e. Giant Cross City 2, Trek FX 7.3). I know I can ride my old bike without any problems, and still get all the benefits of cycling without the pain and inconvenience. I don't think cycling is supposed to be this much work!
your opinions please...
Sorry to hear that, boy you are tall.
Find out who is the best bike fit person in your area or fly to Sydney to see Steve Hogg, if that is possible.
I had my bike fit down with him and so have many others. I am sure though that there is someone well known in your area.
Last edited by Apple on Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Speak your mind,Those that mind dont matter, Those that matter dont mind!!
I'd like to '3rd' the bike fitment advice.
My short experience back on a bike has managed to bring a couple of physio related stresses upon my own body. I had a knee issue right away after changing bikes which my LBS bloke fixed with a 20 minute re-setting session on the bike stand in the shop.
The other lower back / lumbar issue I have is work related but flared up on the new bike as well. I use a fitness ball to flex on for 5 min before I get changed to go on a ride and have found this to allow me to ride for 1 hr + and get off without any ill effects.
3rd class cycling is always better than 1st class walking
From what you say- you didnt have any problems riding your hybrid.
Its highly likely your bike isnt set up correctly for you.
Suggest looking up Competitive Cyclist on the web and do your own bike fit. Or just transfer the dimensions of your hybrid to your new bike i.e. BB to seat height, seat to handle bar length etc.
I'd suggest a specialist physio dealing with cyclist issues who is a cyclist himself would be the best place to start.
I went to see the famous Steve Hogg, thinking my problems (similar to yours but not as bad) were fit related.
Turns out my posture was just horrible, and my lower back issues were related to having an assymetric pedalling action. Steve cut the session short and packed me off to see Martin Krause, a manipulative physio buddy of his in North Sydney specializing in spinal and postural issues.
Martin assessed me and found my pelvis was rolled forward, twisted to the left, and on the bike dipping left as I pedalled. And here I was thinking I stood straight and tall. Turns out I was a long way from it. Nothing wrong structurally (fortunately), but I had some unhelpful neurological "adaptations" going on with the way my muscles fired to produce the pedalling action. I had some weird gait things going on too. Martin, being very diplomatic, described me as "complex".
Correction required manipulative physio, numerous core strength and posture exercises, changes to saddle position (further forward, and lower) and - wait for it - twisting it about 3 degrees to the right being the final touch to get my pedalling action perfect right at the very end of the program.
So long as I maintain the core strength and maintain hamstring and hip flexor flexibility, my back and sacroilliac joints are pain free. I am probably overdue for a visit to Martin for a tune-up on my posture after all the crap that I had going on last year with major injuries.
When all else fails, persistence prevails -- Lew Hollander
Thanks for the input everyone. I have considered going and getting a bike fit, I think I've seen Chirchill Cycles in Myaree as the place to go in Perth mentioned on these forums before.
However, to further complicate the issue, my bike is used mostly for commuting, and so I have to carry around a bit of junk (i.e. laptop etc). I originally set up my Defy with a rack and panniers to take the load off my back which helped, but that turned the Defy into a clown bike. Awful to ride with the frame flexing all over the place, and suffering massive under steer. So I started leaving everything at work, and using the car when I really needed to transport the laptop, or at worst only cycling with the laptop on my back once a week. Since then however, seeing as my back is playing up again, I have transferred the rack to my old hybrid and, of course, it performs perfectly. Stable and stiff, no trouble with the frame flexing.
The other factor here is money. I'm a student with limited cash flow and so putting yet another $100 + into my road bike to make it 'perfect' may well be throwing good money after bad. Do I get a bike fit so that I can continue to ride my good bike in good weather on days when I don't need to transport gear, and use my old bike when I have to haul a load, OR, do cut my losses, sell the bike, get a better hybrid/flat bar which is better suited to running with panniers and using that for everything.
As for physio etc: I'm pretty happy with where I'm at looking after my back with stretching, core strength and posture following previous advice from a chiro and a physio. I'm not so keen to have to go and spend a whole bunch more money getting manipulative therapy etc just so that I can ride my good bike.
I'm starting to lean towards selling the bike.
My 2 cents.
Stuff what anyone else thinks is the 'proper' bike to ride... The best bike for you is one you WILL ride.
If you're willing to throw money at the roadie then do it, but how much are you ready to throw? If it means a new flat bar, then that's what it takes. If it means sticking with the old hybrid then so be it. Short of something major happening, you can keep the old girl running with upgrades and replacement parts for as long as they keep making bike bits.
If I was in your shoes, knowing I felt no ill affects from it, I'd probably stick with the old ride and sell up the roadie (write it off as a learning experience). Then I'd keep my eyes out for a frame with similar geometry to the original hybrid but ditching the suspension forks and build myself a flatbar that fit perfectly
15 Bikes 2 adults 6 children, 2 dogs, 10 chooks and a heck of a lot of fish
Before getting another bike fit (I paid for a bike fit, and I now know more about the subject than they did), you need to measure yourself and plug the numbers into the fit calculator. From here, have a close look at the bike you have been sold - especially the seat tube angle which should be around 71 - 72 degrees for a big rider. If the frame isn't outrageously wrong (seat tube angle issues mean you need an offset seat post), buy/borrow the "Sitting Pretty" DVDs from Steve Hogg and watch them a couple of times. Then, the most important thing to do is get the saddle in the correct position such that you have your weight balanced on the bike - while pedalling reasonably hard, you should be able to take your hands off the bars without face planting into the stem. If you can't do this... this is where your lower back problem is most likely coming from.
I'm 6"2, 103kg. My 'ideal' frame is 63cm seat / 57cm top, but my main ride is a heavily modded 59cm (click the "Bennett" link below) with a short flipped stem (90mm) and a 25mm offset 40cm long seatpost to get the seat tube angle down (the frame is 74 degrees and should have been around 71 - 72 degrees). I run my saddle way higher than anyone recommends because my left kneecap tries to climb up the femur and jams if I have it any lower. I run speedplay pedals, because nothing else gave the amount of toe-out I needed due to my severe toe-out stance. I also run 20mm spacers ("kneesavers") between the cranks and pedals, because my right knee develops severe pain just below the kneecap on the right hand side if I ride without the spacer - Important Note : MTB cranks have the pedals ~ 40mm wider than road bike cranks, so if you hybrid is using MTB cranks that's one possible source of knee pain!
When I first switched from my Hybrid to my roadie, I couldn't do 20km without severe knee pain, when I'd been doing century rides on the hybrid without problems. I have lower back issues as well due to "The Picking Up the Compressor" incident of 2001, and I still get back problems if I try and mash the pedals too hard (ie. climbing hills)... but I've made it up as high as Veterans B grade and can generally hold my own despite the excess lard I carry.
So... don't sell the bike just yet, but if you can't get the bike to meet your needs... there's no point flogging a dead horse.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
I had an issue with my left knee. Turns out that by just adjusting the position of my cleat to move the back of my foot just 5mm the knee pain went away. Quite often it is a small change that makes a difference.
As the others have said, have a wander across the net. There are many articles on how to fit yourself to your bike. I am not suggesting that it will be better than an expert in the field, but if you can make enough of a change to make it comfortable, then you win.
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever" Lance Armstrong
hey thanks for some more great advice. Twizzle, regarding the q-factor or whatever, once I switched my pedals to flats on the road bike I've noticed that my feet always shift about 2 cm away from the bike on each pedal and I have no discomfort. My old bike is a flatbar (2005 Diamondback) but with mountain bike components so you've probably hit the nail on the head there.
I'll give the fit calculator a go and see how my current setup on the Defy frame compares.
Following advice from Twizzle I put my numbers in to the fit calculator, and it turns out my top tube should be 561-565 'competitive fit', or 573-577 'French fit'. My XL Defy 1 has a effective top tube of 595. Is this extra 2 or 3 cm going to be the difference between a comfortable bike and one that kills my back? Even with the stem flipped and the bars angled up slightly?
Seat tube angle is 72. Will take the tape measure to the bike and check all the other parameters now.
Yep, that couple of extra cm's of reach can be a killer. Next stop, a shorter stem... and you get to practice trig, as you need to consider the rise angle and the length. I have a collection of stems now in various lengths and angles, but I managed to get the setup on both my everyday and race bikes almost exactly the same (bar on the TCR is 1cm closer to the ground).
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
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