Sore Lower Back while riding

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Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Squigs » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:36 pm

I have been getting sore lower back muscles while MTBing and also on hard group rides on the road bike for almost 6 months. Quite often on the mtb it gets so sore that I can hardley put any power down at all.

I have been doing core strengthening for the past two months and I have seen improvements in back strength but it doesn't seem to have helped when I'm on the bike.

I can't really get a bike fit because I am still growing and could grow out of a bike fit within a couple of months.

Has anyone else had this problem and/or got any recommendations?


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by BNA » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:55 pm

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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby find_bruce » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:55 pm

How are your hamstrings ? For me, lower back pain and a lack of power are usually the result of tight / sore hamstrings. If I do some regular stretches, all is good. YMMV
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Squigs » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:36 am

I do regular stretching (at least 3days/week) and I would say that my flexibility is very good.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Dragster1 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:13 am

I get the same thing after 60k my back aches like hell. Stretching halfway between the rides by putting one hand at a time over my back and push the elbow with my spare hand so that it slides down my back further seems to relieve it a bit. I think its from being crunched over in the same position for too long. A good bike fit can help too.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Dr_Mutley » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:44 pm

Try tilting your saddle nose down half a bubble on the spirit level, and/or bringing your saddle forward 5 to 10mm... If that helps then a good bike fit is likely to largely reduce your problem...
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby hooman » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:08 pm

You might grow out of a bike fit (unlikely) but you could injure yourself if you have a bad posture which could mean you don't ride again.

Get a bike fit.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby TheBikeShed » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:45 pm

I agree with hooman here—a bike fit is definitely the way to go. It doesn't always feel like a great investment when you could be spending that money on new kit, but it's really one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially when it comes to increasing fitness. If you're more comfortable on the bike, you'll ride longer and faster. Also, find_bruce makes a good point—there are a lot of muscles that help stabilize your core, including the hamstrings and hip flexors. If you're stretching three times a week, try making it five and see if that helps a bit.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby trailgumby » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:04 pm

+1 to bike fit. Made a major difference to me, but it was a long journey.

My core strength and asymmetric muscle recruitment was so bad that the bike fitter cut the session short and sent me off to a spinal physio he recommended to get sorted out. He said he could have continued but I'd look really stupid on the bike.

Took six months to make progress and a year before I was fully sorted. But it was well and truly worth it. Prior to this, I could not stand still on one spot for more than 30 minutes without getting acutely uncomfortable and bushwalking was a serious no go zone. Now, very few issues.

I still get it a bit when doing long descents off the back of the bike, but long climbs no longer bother me.

The problem is the guy I went to see the first time (Steve Hogg) has a ridiculously long waiting list. That's because he is very, very good. If you are in Sydney, I can recommend Blair Martin whose practice is called The Body Mechanic. He is a qualified physio so you can get a rebate off your medical fund, and he will give you exercises to do and work with your current physio.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Lots of steel bikes » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:20 am

Dr_Mutley wrote:Try tilting your saddle nose down half a bubble on the spirit level, and/or bringing your saddle forward 5 to 10mm... If that helps then a good bike fit is likely to largely reduce your problem...

Tilting the saddle nose down worked for me. No lower back pain ever. Here's a Sports Medicine paper on the subject:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1756210/
I rode with a guy yesterday who had just had a bike fit. He had to cut the ride short short after 25k due to back and shoulder pain. The changes that were made to his riding position were too great, to soon in my opinion. Should have been done in small increments to allow the body to adjust.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby simonn » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:10 am

Squigs wrote:I have been doing core strengthening for the past two months and I have seen improvements in back strength but it doesn't seem to have helped when I'm on the bike.


What exactly?

Go do pilates or dynamic yoga, or the gym with a trainer who knows what they are doing. Will take longer than 2 months.

Has anyone else had this problem and/or got any recommendations?


Get a fit at a decent LBS. Should not cost much. Will not be as comprehensive as Steve Hogg etc, but it is what my wife and I did and it made a difference, particularly for my wife. But, really, core strength makes all the difference - for general life too. People ignore it far to much, but it is only since I have become stronger that the penny dropped, so I am not going to blame others for the attitude :).
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Squigs » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:34 am

I have been playing around with my bike setup lately. Just recently pushed my saddle back about 10mm and it seems to have helped a bit, still a bit sore but nowhere near as bad as it has been. But my back only hurts on the bike, once I get off the bike 5mins later my back feels like normal. And also on easy rides (Z2 or under) or on the trainer it doesn't hurt one bit, but on fast rides (High Z3 or above) MTB or road it hurts. I have booked an appointment with my osteopath and I will see what he says.

simonn wrote:Get a fit at a decent LBS. Should not cost much. Will not be as comprehensive as Steve Hogg etc.


The only decent LBS around my place that I would consider going to for a bike fit does bike fits for $300. I'm only 16 and don't have a job so I don't have that much money to spend. I would be getting a bike fit on all my bikes if I had the money.

simonn wrote:What exactly?

Go do pilates or dynamic yoga, or the gym with a trainer who knows what they are doing. Will take longer than 2 months.


Planks, Scissor Kicks, Boat Poses, Leg Raises, Windmill Exercises etc. I have noticed increase strength with alot of these exercise because I can hold them for alot longer than I could 3months ago.

TheBikeShed wrote:If you're stretching three times a week, try making it five and see if that helps a bit.


I would be doing more stretching if I had the time. 4 days per week of stretching is normally the most I can fit in.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Stefan_A » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:46 am

If you sit around with bad posture a lot, straining your lumbar discs, are in the middle of a growth spurt, have a poor diet and hydration practices, and a congenital issue with your spine or a history of trauma, a bike fit isn't the answer.

Of the exercises you list, only the plank strengthens the core muscles. how long can you hold it? The rest target the hip flexors primarily and rectus abdominis secondarily. Lumbar flexibility is rarely mentioned by cyclists, but is even more important than hamstring. There are exercises you can do to loosen lumbar facet joints to allow you to get lower on the bike, and ease the spine on long rides.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Squigs » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:02 am

Stefan_A wrote:If you sit around with bad posture a lot, straining your lumbar discs, are in the middle of a growth spurt, have a poor diet and hydration practices, and a congenital issue with your spine or a history of trauma, a bike fit isn't the answer.


I have a very good diet and I stay well hydrated 95% of the time. I don't think I'm in a growth spurt as I haven't grown much more than 1-2cm in the past 2-3years.

Stefan_A wrote:Of the exercises you list, only the plank strengthens the core muscles. how long can you hold it? The rest target the hip flexors primarily and rectus abdominis secondarily. Lumbar flexibility is rarely mentioned by cyclists, but is even more important than hamstring. There are exercises you can do to loosen lumbar facet joints to allow you to get lower on the bike, and ease the spine on long rides.


On average I can hold the plank for about 2min. What core exercises do you think I should be doing then if you don't think I am doing the correct ones?? I got most of those exercise out of a cycling book called "Get Fast!".
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Stefan_A » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:18 am

I would not make exercise recommendations until I assessed you and knew what was causing your back pain!
Time and again I've seen guys render their backs useless occupationally, due to poor coaching in recreational sport....including mine.
Respect pain. get it looked into.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby Squigs » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:24 am

Stefan_A wrote:I would not make exercise recommendations until I assessed you and knew what was causing your back pain!
Time and again I've seen guys render their backs useless occupationally, due to poor coaching in recreational sport....including mine.
Respect pain. get it looked into.


Ok, will do. As I said earlier I have booked an appointment with my osteopath and most the times I have been there he has given me exercises to fix the problems that I have had and they have worked well.
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Re: Sore Lower Back while riding

Postby eeksll » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:28 pm

Something that sets off my sore back is pulling up on the bars to try and get more power down. e.g while going up hills.

I very rarely pull up now, although its not always possible.
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