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  1. #1
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    I'm not sure if biking is bad for your back or not, but having a ruptured disk between L4 and L5. I can honestly say that the only time my back doesn't hurt is when I'm on my bike.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by lidarman View Post
    Sitting in a bad chair posting on mtbr is bad for your back. I can attest to that!
    I just sat up straight, thanks.

  3. #3
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    Is biking bad for your back?

    I am pretty confident that this topic was done about a thousand times, but just to be sure.

    Is riding a bike bad for our backs?

    The position we are in for freaking hours, does it stress the spine? Discs? It is impossible and even bad to ride with straight back, there needs to be some flex, a curve. If we would to sit in this position in a chair, i bet our backs would snap like twigs after a few hours.

    There is something in the fact that some of the weight is on the hands, of course, but still.

    So, do pro bikers after some time have back problems?
    Daemon
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  4. #4
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    My back feels the most jacked in the winter when I am skiing more and riding less. Riding = less back pain for me. ( I have a blown L5-S1 ) Had it fixed in Vail 5 years ago and am still able to race bikes and ride every day.

  5. #5
    Keep The Rubber Side Down
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    Riding is bad for your back when...

    ...your posture is wrong. Your back should be straight, not curved
    ...your bike doesn't fit you. If you're riding a bike that is too long or two short for you
    ...your handlebar width is too wide
    ...you fall off your bike and land on your back

    When you're in a proper riding position, your butt is carrying most of your body weight, the rest is in your hands, arms and shoulders; but tha tshould be minimal. If someone is having back pains outside of these issues, they should consult a physician. Most likely it's more of an issue of conditioning more than anything else.
    Some of my happiest memories in life took place on my bicycles. - Me

  6. #6
    Old Fart, Crank Warrior
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    It's not the position; it's the pounding coming up through the seatpost.

    I was riding a 1988 rigid frame mtb and couldn't figure out why I was getting so stiff. Then I realized it's from the hammering of the roadway. Went to a hard-tail w/ suspension fork and most of the stiffness stopped. But we're still getting hammered.

    The posture issue is not so bad. Most riders move around on the bike. Road bike has drop bars to allow for changing positions. Of course your bike needs to fit you. If it doesn't fit, you're going to experience problems. Riding position is critical.

    It pays to be in shape to ride, stretches and weight training to balance the muscles you don't use while riding are good preventative strategies.
    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  7. #7
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    My back has been jacked up for months. Riding is one of the only times that it doesn't bother me. I have been doing exercises to strengthen the muscles back there. Hoping that's all I need to do.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  8. #8
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    not going to stress the spine, maybe cause some soreness in the spinal acsessories (sacro spinalis) and muscles in that area. but it takes some pretty serious trauma to actually affect the vertebrae. Most people develop compression of discs over time no matter what just wear and tear. to give you idea of the force needed for some serious issues. 3 wks saw a guy, 180+lbs static line parachute with a pretty small canopy, poor technique and landed on black top. resulted in 20% compression fracture of L5. No major symptoms just pain. I highly doubt biking even comes close to that.
    Hooyah space monkey

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  9. #9
    Rolling
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    Sitting in a bad chair posting on mtbr is bad for your back. I can attest to that!

  10. #10
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    Good for it

    Unless you have poor biking posture or a badly fitting bike, mountain biking is good for the back. I've had a degenerated disc for many years and biking helps it. I don't road ride so I can not speak to that.

  11. #11
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    To add to what others have said, my back feels great when I ride.
    Monte
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  12. #12
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    riding helps my degenerative disk. But I ride a carbon full squish - upgraded from an aluminum fully ridged that was hurting my back.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBowles View Post
    I'm not sure if biking is bad for your back or not, but having a ruptured disk between L4 and L5. I can honestly say that the only time my back doesn't hurt is when I'm on my bike.
    I can tell you I just started riding again, and feel it in my back a little. I also ride a Motorcycle, and have adopted a particular posture widely known with owners of my bike called the "Master Yoda" riding position. This is where you keep your back straight, and rock your hips forward. Yes, it uses back muscles, but once you learn to relax, it seems to reqally help fatigue. I will be trying it on my new Mt Bike!

  14. #14
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    I usually prescribe time on the bike for most of my back pain patients. Benefits include:

    Strengthening legs and glutes helps support the spine

    Calorie burn can help with weight control - lighter body is always easier on the spine

    Balance muscles exercised will always help most back problems

    Cardio work with less impact than running

    Stationary bike is better than nothing but riding with balance challenges is the best. Some back conditions can be aggravated by riding and that is a key to see a physician, especially if leg pain is involved.

    A good pre (and post) ride warmup should include some stretching. I recommend 5 Tibetian rites - several good videos on youtube.

    Ride on!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon[CRO] View Post
    The position we are in for freaking hours, does it stress the spine? Discs? It is impossible and even bad to ride with straight back, there needs to be some flex, a curve. If we would to sit in this position in a chair, i bet our backs would snap like twigs after a few hours.?
    I would argue that the act of cycling, if done in the absence of other exercises, is not good for the spine. Repetitive movement of the hip flexors and lack of core use is inherent in cycling. These two things compromise the health of the back over time.

    I regularly see a PT for my back, and he prescribes me specific exercises to stretch and strengthen my back and spine. He sees plenty of cyclists with back problems.

    Core work and routine stretching can counteract the stress on the back from biking.
    Life will pound away where the light don't shine, son...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Core work and routine stretching can counteract the stress on the back from biking.
    That's what my chiro says. If you have good core muscles, your back should hold up.

  17. #17
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    Any micro-trauma over time, accrued to any joint, will eventually wear it out. The counteraction here would seem to be nutrition and good exercise to allow for strengthening of the appropriate musculature. This will help in keeping the motion within the range for which the joint is made.

    Also, supplements are available to aid in reducing friction within the joint. Glucosamine and chondroitin to name a couple.
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  18. #18
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    In the end biking is bad for your back....

    I am one who as little back pain while riding, I do however get lower back pain off the bike.

    What happens with lots of riding is tight hamstrings, tight quads, and a tight IT band....

    You also get some muscle imbalance happening.

    So if you stretch and exercise those issues away than biking can become "good " for your back.

    PS I read somewhere that Lance Armstrrong fights off back pain.

  19. #19
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    After 25 years on road bikes (& mtb) I developed what my Doc & Phys Therapist termed "Classic Bicycle Back". This was about 10 years ago and they got me into abdominal & core strengthening. Within maybe 3 months I felt better and my back pain gradually disappeared. I still spend 15 minutes every other day on core/ab exercises and feel way better than I did at 40. Cross training helps too - running, swimming, etc. See a Doc, Phys Therapist or good trainer to get started.

  20. #20
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    If you are one of those guys that just sits there all the time without standing up, then yeah, it might not be good for your back. But if you get up off the saddle a lot, I imagine that will effectively eliminate any back problems. Since proper downhill technique requires you to stand up, that should help. Better yet, get a single speed hardtail and you will be standing on uphills and downhills. You also use more of your core when climbing with a single speed.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    If you are one of those guys that just sits there all the time without standing up, then yeah, it might not be good for your back. But if you get up off the saddle a lot, I imagine that will effectively eliminate any back problems. Since proper downhill technique requires you to stand up, that should help. Better yet, get a single speed hardtail and you will be standing on uphills and downhills. You also use more of your core when climbing with a single speed.
    Standing and hammering can definately cause back problems.

  22. #22
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    I went from a hardtail to a full suspension precisely because of my bad back. Found out that 4+ inches of travel front and rear do wonders for a bad back! Not going back to a hardtail!. Oh, and I tried a carbon full suspension, but the stiffness of the frame made it uncomfortable, so had to stick with aluminum. Oh well, as long as I'm not doing anything stupid, I'm still able to ride. Which is what really matters, right?

  23. #23
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    With a hard tail my back hurts. With a full suspension it doesn't.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedmetal View Post
    I went from a hardtail to a full suspension precisely because of my bad back. Found out that 4+ inches of travel front and rear do wonders for a bad back! Not going back to a hardtail!. Oh, and I tried a carbon full suspension, but the stiffness of the frame made it uncomfortable, so had to stick with aluminum. Oh well, as long as I'm not doing anything stupid, I'm still able to ride. Which is what really matters, right?
    Same here several years ago. I tried racing a HT at one particular race out of curiosity (post FS change up) and couldn't finish the race as my back was in serious pain, and not worth the potential damage to it. Am now adjusting to a Fox Brain this season from a RS Monarch.
    Life will pound away where the light don't shine, son...

  25. #25
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    I find riding helps my back. One thing I do is bend backwards over the back of a chair to re-align my discs. This works quite well. The more I ride the stronger my back gets.

    P.S. - I do ride FS except my roadbike. Cross-Training as well so you don't overbuild bike specific muscles. Hit weights once a week, running, and swimming. A lot of cyclists don't do this because biking is the best! Who wants to hit a Gym when you can be bombing a trail?

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