Bad back from cycling

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Bad back from cycling

Postby Fletcher » Tue May 31, 2011 10:00 am

I've recently increased my amount of riding, resulting in some pretty serious back pain. It's deteriorated to the extent that I can barely walk when finishing my commute, and is very sore. It takes about an hour before I can walk fully upright without serious discomfort.
I went to a physio on Friday who checked me out, and thinks I have three problems. Firstly, I push more power through my right leg, unbalancing things and putting strain on my lower back. The second problem he identified is lack of flexibility, mainly in my spine but also hammies and quads. He also thinks my pelvis has tilted back due to quad development and the whole lack of flexibility thing. His treatment plan is to increase flexibility, then give me strengthening exercises. He thought I should keep riding, which I have done, but I'm riding a bit easier.
He gave me three very basic stretching exercises: one for lower back, two for legs. I'm a bit concerned now because my back seems worse than before - there's certainly more pain. I wasn't expecting instant relief, but I wasn't expecting it to feel worse.
I've been speaking to other riders, several have recommended seeing a good Osteopath rather than a physio. This is my first ever visit to a physio, and I've never seen an Osteopath.
I plan to see the physio again this Friday, explain my experience and see what he recommends.
Have any members had better experiences with Osteopaths than Physios? Have any had bad experiences, problems exacerbated after physiotherapy consultations?
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by BNA » Tue May 31, 2011 11:44 am

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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby stylo » Tue May 31, 2011 11:44 am

Take it back a step - has your bike been fitted properly to you ?

I found that when I started riding, that the more I trained, the less pain I felt or my pain barrier threshold increased i.e. I was able to slowly do longer rides with less pain - not the other way round.

My bike was properly fitted to me i.e. on trainer with the pendulum thingy with cleats strapped in etc.

If you aren't riding a roadie, I am sure you can still get fitted to your bike to see if that's the reason why you may be getting a bad back.

Having said that, I could be completely wrong and it may be something else affecting your back :D
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby m@ » Tue May 31, 2011 12:12 pm

Have any members had better experiences with Osteopaths than Physios? Have any had bad experiences, problems exacerbated after physiotherapy consultations?

I had what I reckon was some pretty average advice regarding bike fit and position from a 'generalist' physio as part of my follow-up after knee surgery.

I'd say it's worth seeing someone who specialises in cycling issues - I've heard good things about Roslyn at Atlas Physio from quite a few people and there are some other recommendations in this threadand this one.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby twizzle » Tue May 31, 2011 12:17 pm

I'd be doing a lot more stretching (try the 'hurdlers' stretch for a start), but I'd also be avoiding the bike for a while as chronic inflammation could end up causing real problems. At the very least, anti-inflammatories could be your friend, and an osteo/chiro can point you in the right direction as well.

Personally, if I can't stand upright after riding, I take it as a VERY bad sign.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Livetoride » Tue May 31, 2011 1:55 pm

stylo wrote:Take it back a step - has your bike been fitted properly to you ?

I found that when I started riding, that the more I trained, the less pain I felt or my pain barrier threshold increased i.e. I was able to slowly do longer rides with less pain - not the other way round.

My bike was properly fitted to me i.e. on trainer with the pendulum thingy with cleats strapped in etc.

If you aren't riding a roadie, I am sure you can still get fitted to your bike to see if that's the reason why you may be getting a bad back.

Having said that, I could be completely wrong and it may be something else affecting your back :D


+1 bike fitting, stretches and watch how stiff you are when ridding.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Sweeper59 » Tue May 31, 2011 2:12 pm

I recently started a thread in regard to back pain caused by lack of stretching under this same directory (Cycling Health)- you may want to check out some of that discussion

After being in a fair bit of pain a few days, I managed to get in to see my GP. He sent me for pathology tests and X-rays, but was unable to find a cause. However, a physio diagnosed the problem within a few minutes - cycling has built up my leg muscles over the past few years, but I hadn't been stretching enough - my quads and hamstrings where so tight, he described them as 'flexible as concrete'. The build up of my leg muscles had actually pulled my lower back muscles and ligaments downwards, putting a lot of pressure on the base of my spine.

After 1 session with the physio, I was a new man. That was 6 weeks ago, and I've been riding without any issues since, although I'm very conscious of regular stretching now.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby stylo » Tue May 31, 2011 2:29 pm

this is very interesting and something for me to keep in mind for the future. thanks for sharing sweeper
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Chuck » Tue May 31, 2011 7:50 pm

twizzle wrote:I'd be doing a lot more stretching


Livetoride wrote:
+1 stretches


Sweeper59 wrote:I'm very conscious of regular stretching now.


+ Another 1 to stretching. I'd been getting lower back pain too, although not to the extent that you describe. Went to see a Physio who took me through a series of stretches that I have been doing regularly since. It's made a big difference. Haven't stretched for a couple of weeks and I can feel it.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Sweeper59 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:38 pm

Chuck wrote:
twizzle wrote:I'd be doing a lot more stretching


Livetoride wrote:
+1 stretches


Sweeper59 wrote:I'm very conscious of regular stretching now.


+ Another 1 to stretching. I'd been getting lower back pain too, although not to the extent that you describe. Went to see a Physio who took me through a series of stretches that I have been doing regularly since. It's made a big difference. Haven't stretched for a couple of weeks and I can feel it.


Prior to getting into cycling, I played football (soccer) for almost 30 years - so the majority of my sporting career has been focussed on building up my leg muscles. (I actually grew up in your neighbourhood, Chuck, and ended up playing in the State Leagues for Campbelltown teams).

Anyway, my physio put me through some stretches that I thought were going to snap my hamstrings. He has got me stretching to point where I'm in pain, but, even after a few weeks, I'm noticeably more flexible than I was.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby thewallace » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:45 pm

See a chiro/osteo preferably both in one like mine is, they are back experts as opposed to body experts so should put you on the right path. Bike fit is important, but you must increase your core strength which leads to flexibility.

I'd suggest pilaties and begin situp's push ups etc and build that core up and stretch those muscles out
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Davobel » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:23 pm

I'm a chiro and a cyclist. As stated earlier (1) have your bike fitted properly, most clubs or shops have a coach that will do a good job, it should take around 45-60 minutes with slight adjustments to your cleats, seat, handlebars etc..

There's no point in getting a lot of treatment if you are simply going to repetitively strain your back again. OK? So, make sure you bike is fitted.

It is really handy if you can find a chiro/physio or osteo that is a cyclist. On a personal level they are more interested in the sport and usually understand the bio-mechanics and nutrition better than a non-cyclist. You may need some treatment to correct some acute problems but around 5-6 visits should get you out of trouble. If your bike is fitted properly you won't be re-injuring the region.

(2) Core work, lots of dvd's out there if your a home workout guy. Carmichaels are a good start but most will be better than nothing. If your going to do Pilates, please go to a properly trained Pilates instructor (at least for a while). They are worth the money.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby amridley » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:12 pm

Hey Sweeper59, could you share the name of the physio you went?
I have been suffering the same problem since Feb and could not cycle as I used to. Went to chiro, myotherapist but never been to physio. I am going to GP today hoping to have an X-ray for my back just to see the spine.

Thanks for sharing, Mike


Sweeper59 wrote:I recently started a thread in regard to back pain caused by lack of stretching under this same directory (Cycling Health)- you may want to check out some of that discussion

After being in a fair bit of pain a few days, I managed to get in to see my GP. He sent me for pathology tests and X-rays, but was unable to find a cause. However, a physio diagnosed the problem within a few minutes - cycling has built up my leg muscles over the past few years, but I hadn't been stretching enough - my quads and hamstrings where so tight, he described them as 'flexible as concrete'. The build up of my leg muscles had actually pulled my lower back muscles and ligaments downwards, putting a lot of pressure on the base of my spine.

After 1 session with the physio, I was a new man. That was 6 weeks ago, and I've been riding without any issues since, although I'm very conscious of regular stretching now.
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Bad back from cycling

Postby ozzymac » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:03 pm

Hi,
I have a pretty bad case of scholiosis in my back, and I was pleasantly surprised that when I took up cycling last year I didn't get any increase of back pain.

Walking, standing, sitting etc aggravates it but cycling doesn't.

But I do get pains elsewhere, due to being so uneven.

Just recently upgraded to a road bike and I am still trying to get things just right so I can do more than 30 kms without getting pains elsewhere.

Cheers
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby trailgumby » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:34 pm

If you have neurological and functional assymetry that is at the root of this problem (as you have hinted), bike fit won't address the issue on its own. You need to get yourself sorted first, and this needs to be done with a cycling-specific manipulatie physiotherapist. I suffer similar problems: my right side is much stronger than my left.

What worked last time before my two major crashes isn't doing the job this time, so we're doing a fundamental re-evaluation. Got there once, can get there again.

Once the physio has got your core muscle system trained and firing properly, that is when a proper bike fit will yield the benefit. Until then, work with your physio to set the bike up to minimise discomfort while his program starts to take effect, but understand that it is a work in progress.
Last edited by trailgumby on Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby Tazzy » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:50 pm

I was having lower back problems (45 yo) and the quack told me that riding a bike would make it worse because of the bent over posture. I ended up developing my core muscles with a regular light weight routine which helped my back. I bit the bullet and purchased a relaxed geometry Synapse and haven't even felt a twinge in my back, touch wood. In fact, riding could be proving benificial for my back through muscular development and aerobic fitness. I set my bike up myself through research and trial and error. I think the worse thing for my back is sitting around and being inactive.
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Re: Bad back from cycling

Postby trailgumby » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:07 pm

Tazzy wrote:I think the worse thing for my back is sitting around and being inactive.


Doing that at a desk all day is at the core of my problems.

(Boom-tish pun intended :P :wink: )
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