Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

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Deus_Ex_Machina
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Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:18 pm

Hi All,
So I have not done much road riding in my time but am starting to train for a Triathlon and find I get very sore in the lower back (top of the iliac crest) almost without fail between 15-20 klms. I did a Sprint tri last summer 26klm (on very little training as I was intending to do a 1/2 mara instead but long story) and was quite painful by the time I got off the bike, onset was about the same point at 15klm. I have only done 2-3X 10klm-15klm rides the last couple of weeks, did a 20klm Sunday and another 20klm today. By the time I hit 20 it's quite distracting and affecting how I ride alot. Once I'm off and stretch it out for a bit there isn't a whole bunch of residual discomfort.

I have had my bike fit checked at a local shop and feel the guy was very thorough (didn't change much from what I had set up) and also had a friend who has done a lot of Tri's/Ironman over the years who felt it looked OK.

I'm fairly fit, swim 2-3klms twice a week, some speed and longer run work and get a basic strength set in, I would have thought the bod would take the bike no probs but maybe just needs time to adapt to such a flexed position on the drops? Everything I read on sore lower back says you might be too stretched out, if anything as it gets sore I kinda feel like moving my arse back a notch.

Is it odd for someone fairly fit to struggle with 20klm at a 30klmish pace or am I ramping too quickly?

P.S. My Bike is a CAAD8, I'm 38, 179cm, 73kg, pretty average proportions, if anything longer limbed.

Any advice would be helpful as not sure whether to keep grinding at lower klms and wait for adaptation or if it sounds like I'm still set up wrong.

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ValleyForge
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby ValleyForge » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:16 pm

My suspicion is that it is muscular given how you describe "stretching it out". Your iliacus and psoas (oft referred to as the illio-psoas complex) would seem to be responsible.

The are not muscles heavily used outside cycling and weight-lifting. They are incredibly important for posture and stability, but being in a TT/aero position makes them work proportionately harder than say your quads or glutes. If you have a second bike with a more classic position you are likely to find you get sore quads & glutes before your back. Also getting out of the saddle and doing "bike-yoga" helps; but it's not aero.

I note from your last line about "grinding" that you might be keeping a low cadence which will make the soreness worse.
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Deus_Ex_Machina
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:38 am

Thanks for the response Valleyforge. Definitely muscular (I'm a PT and Studying Exercise Phys so have pretty good body awareness/understanding but am a hack cyclist lol).

Morning after the soreness def feels like it's at the top of the glutes/insertion area as opposed to true lower back (QL for example). Actual muscle bellies of the glutes (and quads) have zero anything as was overall a cruisey pace. Hip flexors don't feel too bad but I hear what you are saying and the heavy hip flexing in the drop position may pull the pelvis down into an anterior tilt which is not comfy for the lower back, tries to further elongate glutes.

Wondering if I might shift seat forward and down slightly and see if it tips the balance of quad to glute work?

RE grinding thats a good pickup. I have been deliberately riding higher cadence lower gear as yes grinding away on high makes it come on faster.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Calvin27 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:00 pm

A couple of things from my experience:
- Riding and then sitting - this causes the hams to freeze up hard and over time causes lower back pain that tends to surface at about the 20km mark for me.
- Generally core strength is lacking imo. You may be fit, as you're probably aware not all fitness is the same. I've had to do a crapload of core stuff to be able to ride 100km comfortably. I used to literally get off the bike and stretch which helped but hardly useful for most ride where you are on the bike for long periods of time. If you've done a bike fit, they should be able to make a call on this one by looking at the pressure you put on the handlebars - should be like playing a piano apparently.
- I have moved some fitting stuff around to shift the load but generally I've gone back to the bike fit spec. Not sure about the science, but I prefer to load the glutes slightly more than the quads - prior to the fit my quads were getting burnt up really fast and I had some issues with glute activation after some time off a bike.
- This one is an easy one - try so some off saddle grinds. Great for lactic threshold conditioning and changes the position up a bit. I see a lot of tdf guys do this - must be good haha!
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ValleyForge
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby ValleyForge » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:15 pm

Deus_Ex_Machina wrote:Hip flexors don't feel too bad but I hear what you are saying and the heavy hip flexing in the drop position may pull the pelvis down into an anterior tilt which is not comfy for the lower back, tries to further elongate glutes.

Wondering if I might shift seat forward and down slightly and see if it tips the balance of quad to glute work?

If you have a good bike fit and a good aero position, don't change it - change the way you ride, either with another bike :twisted: or just not riding in the tuck all the time.

I don't think the pelvic angle is an issue - it doesn't sound like a mechanical pain due to axial skeleton positioning. If that was the case the pain doesn't "stretch" out; it has a slower, less definite onset and lasts for a few days.
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RhapsodyX
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby RhapsodyX » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:26 pm

As someone who ignored regular lower back pain until the L5/S1 exploded (sprint training) and left me with peripheral nerve damage - side planks, side planks and more side planks. Or... to be specific, the Stuart McGill "Daily 3" or "Big 3". There's lots of research on lower back pain in cyclists on Google Scholar, it's usually linked to excessive flexion in the lower back and extensor muscles which are too strong and lack endurance. A lot of my rehab is around improving the muscular endurance, not muscular strength, so the positions are only held for about 8 - 10 seconds to avoid the Type 1 from dropping out due to blood flow being compromised by muscle contraction.

I'm "sort of" back riding (almost eight months since surgery), but since working on fixing the underlying issues it's interesting to note my lower back doesn't "click" when I dismount, and the core is so much more stable when riding.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:24 pm

Hi all, dropped in to the shop today after a quick phone call to the bike fit fellow and he ended up flipping handlebars over so they are slightly declined not inclined. He mentioned this during the original fit but thought as I was a novice he would leave. Upon changing though he felt I flattened the lumbar spine out significantly. As I start to get achey I feel I want to push ba k further on the seat so maybe a bit bunched up.

I am a touch achey and sore today after a sleep.

Going to add in some specific lumbar work like Jefferson curls, I already regularly do a pall off press which is not dissimilar to a side plank as far as muscles worked.

Once the a aches are gone I'll try the new position and check back. Thanks for all the advice, its much appreciated.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:41 pm

EDIT: Sorry the handlebar extension is still inclined but is much flatter than before so although you would expect greater hip flexion by dropping the bars it's prob offset somewhat by reaching forward a little more. Time will telll.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Derny Driver » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:29 pm

Deus_Ex_Machina wrote:
Image

So you had a PROFESSIONAL bike fit and they tilt your handlebars up like that? Wow.
Im not talking about the stem. The hoods need to be flat.
Rotate the whole bars so the hoods are lower and the bottom of the drops are about 10 degrees, not 30

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby mikesbytes » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:02 pm

Hi Deus_Ex_Machina, I'm also a PT and I'm also a Pilates instructor. As you know we train our clients and ourselves with neutral spine. Next we jump on our bikes and ride with curved spines, which our muscular system isn't used to. While we are extremely fit we are asking our bodies to do something it isn't use to doing.

I'm not a fan of Jefferson Curl's but its your body so you decide. I'd suggest that you get more cycling in to improve the strength there in the position that you are riding in. Could you perhaps add a couple of bike commutes in (I know it depends on if you need to carry equipment etc sometimes) or grab a ride in the gaps? I'm thinking of rides just a tad short of where you get the discomfort in addition to your current rides.
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby trailgumby » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:13 pm

Bike shop fits are not worth much in my opinion. You want someone who makes his entire income from doing bike fits, and who offers a money-back guarantee, which ensures they get immediate feedback on the quality of their work. I know two guys who fit this criteria.

Be prepared to suspend judgement, some of the testing they do is pretty out-there. This testing will help identify where your pain issues are sourced in ways that simply dropping you on a bike will never bring to light. If you are getting pain in such short distances, it suggests something is wrong either biomechanically or with muscle recruitment. I had both. Bike fit alone was not enough for me - some physiotherapy and a maintenance training regimen was also required.

In my 3-hour fit session, only the last half hour was spent on the bike. Previously I used to get a lot of pain in my sacro-illiac joint and knees. Now I am planning longer and longer rides. 90km today. Hopefully a full metric century next week. The goal is an imperial century sometime later this year.

Message me if you want details. One is in Sydney, the other Canberra.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:19 pm

Derny Driver wrote:
Deus_Ex_Machina wrote:
Image

So you had a PROFESSIONAL bike fit and they tilt your handlebars up like that? Wow.
Im not talking about the stem. The hoods need to be flat.
Rotate the whole bars so the hoods are lower and the bottom of the drops are about 10 degrees, not 30



Yeah, that's just plan wrong like that! :shock:

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby jaythefordman » Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:29 am

Derny Driver wrote:
Deus_Ex_Machina wrote:
Image

So you had a PROFESSIONAL bike fit and they tilt your handlebars up like that? Wow.
Im not talking about the stem. The hoods need to be flat.
Rotate the whole bars so the hoods are lower and the bottom of the drops are about 10 degrees, not 30


Those aren't weird, you're looking at them wrong. aside from the kick up at the hood ends they are close to flat, and that the drops are not meant to be 'parallel', but a shallow curve up. Works well with a longer stem. his is how my bars/hoods are set and I can tell you that to drop the hoods down further will result in all sorts of pain. Sure, you can run a shorter stem and slam it so you are on top of the bars, then what you say makes sense.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:12 am

jaythefordman wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:
Deus_Ex_Machina wrote:
Image

So you had a PROFESSIONAL bike fit and they tilt your handlebars up like that? Wow.
Im not talking about the stem. The hoods need to be flat.
Rotate the whole bars so the hoods are lower and the bottom of the drops are about 10 degrees, not 30


Those aren't weird, you're looking at them wrong. aside from the kick up at the hood ends they are close to flat, and that the drops are not meant to be 'parallel', but a shallow curve up. Works well with a longer stem. his is how my bars/hoods are set and I can tell you that to drop the hoods down further will result in all sorts of pain. Sure, you can run a shorter stem and slam it so you are on top of the bars, then what you say makes sense.

Brickwork must be crooked then if you think the hoods are 'flat'.
The 'shallow curve up' on the drops should be just that, shallow. 10 degrees, not 30.
The bars dont need slamming, they just need to be correctly fitted.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby jaythefordman » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:38 pm

Derny Driver wrote:
jaythefordman wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:So you had a PROFESSIONAL bike fit and they tilt your handlebars up like that? Wow.
Im not talking about the stem. The hoods need to be flat.
Rotate the whole bars so the hoods are lower and the bottom of the drops are about 10 degrees, not 30


Those aren't weird, you're looking at them wrong. aside from the kick up at the hood ends they are close to flat, and that the drops are not meant to be 'parallel', but a shallow curve up. Works well with a longer stem. his is how my bars/hoods are set and I can tell you that to drop the hoods down further will result in all sorts of pain. Sure, you can run a shorter stem and slam it so you are on top of the bars, then what you say makes sense.

Brickwork must be crooked then if you think the hoods are 'flat'.
The 'shallow curve up' on the drops should be just that, shallow. 10 degrees, not 30.
The bars dont need slamming, they just need to be correctly fitted.


I wasn't looking at the brickwork as for all we know the front wheel could be raised a bit thus creating the appearance of a large tilt up.
I just looked at the hoods and angle to the stem/top tube, and while I agree the hoods could drop a touch, from looking at it I certainly don't think its as extreme as you see

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby RhapsodyX » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:49 pm

jaythefordman wrote:...
I wasn't looking at the brickwork as for all we know the front wheel could be raised a bit thus creating the appearance of a large tilt up.
I just looked at the hoods and angle to the stem/top tube, and while I agree the hoods could drop a touch, from looking at it I certainly don't think its as extreme as you see


Well.. if you look at the FIRST photo (of the whole bike), maybe you will see what the rest of us are all seeing. The bars are rotated upwards - there's no need to move the brifters on the bars.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby lone rider » Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:43 am

Without seeing somebody on the bike, I dont think the bars rotated should make a difference, it looks like its been done to avoid changing the stem. I think the problem is at the saddle, looks like a setback post with saddle too far back and the saddle angle is gonna result in a very upright position which most newbies will ride like. The resulting hip and knee angle's in riding like that would be causing strain in all the wrong areas.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:59 pm

lone rider wrote:Without seeing somebody on the bike, I dont think the bars rotated should make a difference, it looks like its been done to avoid changing the stem. I think the problem is at the saddle, looks like a setback post with saddle too far back and the saddle angle is gonna result in a very upright position which most newbies will ride like. The resulting hip and knee angle's in riding like that would be causing strain in all the wrong areas.

I agree mate. I have no idea about the pain but for a bike fitter to have the seat slid right back on the rails and the bars like that ... its horrible. A good start would be to set the bike up properly.

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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby mikesbytes » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:34 pm

Looks like the original poster has left the site and we are talking to ourselves

As others have said, without a photo of him on the bike we can only guess at the issues and that seat position is suggesting there is something fundamentally wrong. I'm going to take a straight guess that the bike isn't long enough, which of course could be fixed with a longer stem.

More importantly I'm also thinking that seat position is increasing the severity of the curvature of spine immediately above the pelvis which in turn could be increasing the issue being faced
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Re: Lower Back Pain between 15klm-20klm

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:32 am

Sorry guys haven't been on for a while but appreciate all the feedback. Mikesbytes I believe you are on the money. Once I started allowing the lumbar spine to flex and not try and ride with a "deadlift back" things have improved, plus cumulative time on the bike has increased. Rode 40klm the other day and didn't die. I have also targeted a cadence of around 90RPM (higher than I was) unless flying down a bit of a decline. Bringing the seat forward a touch may also help as I think I have been sitting "in" the seat if that makes sense which forces a bit on an anterior tilt (cue lower back angriness). I'll also try dropping the bars a touch, the hoods are parallel with the stem but the stem is inclined. I assume the intent is to have the wrists in a comfortable relatively neutral position on the hoods?

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