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  1. #1
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    Lower Back Pain...?

    Hey, I'm looking for a magic cure here... I've ridden with lower back pain (a numbness that occurs after a few miles of climbing and worsens as I descend) for as long as I can remember. Over the years I've tried doing everything that I can think of, and everything that I have read here. Changed stem lengths, saddles (4 times), seat angles, heights, and extensions, done extensive stretching, made sure I drank enough, etc... About the only thing I haven't done is change my bike (A XC full suspension ride). I've ridden with it for so long that I've become accustomed to it, and as the season goes on it gets less, but never goes away... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?

    About the only thing I'm not really ready to do is arbitrarily go to a doctor. I just don't like 'em and I'm flat broke, so it's just not going to happen.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    There's no such magic cure

    Sorry, pal, but the culprit is more than likely a compressed disc in your spine that's pinching your sciatic nerve. I've had the condition for years, and have even had an operation. The fact is, all you can do is some stretching and conditioning exercises that will limber you up, and take some of the strain off the back.

    Wait, I'm wrong. The magic cure is Tylenol w/codeine #3, but it doesn't mix well with riding

    Best wishes on finding a conditioning regimen that will minimize the discomfort.

    Clyde
    'If Wal-Mart sold parachutes, who would jump?' Frank Havnoonian (quoting his father) Drexel Hill Cyclery

  3. #3
    i worship Mr T
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    yes & no...

    Quote Originally Posted by PerPlunk
    ... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?
    i have similar lower back pain but i don't get the numbness. instead i get a band of pain across my lower back right about kidney level with worse pain on the right side. starts about 45 minutes into a race and increases for the rest of the time. by about 2 hrs in it feels like someone is sticking a knife into the right side of my back.

    i've done all the same things you have with no luck. but will be trying out a new bike (with a longer top tube) in the very near future. however, if you find that magic bullet let me know!!

    rt - only able to commiserate
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  4. #4
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    So many possible causes, so few cures

    I've had back pain for many years but it generally doesn't affect me while riding unless I'm hunched over doing steep climbs for a period of time. Tylenol Arthritis helps and even though I'm a scientist, I've found a good chiropractor I trust and seeing him regularly really helps.

  5. #5
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    Hold on!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by PerPlunk
    Hey, I'm looking for a magic cure here... I've ridden with lower back pain (a numbness that occurs after a few miles of climbing and worsens as I descend) for as long as I can remember. Over the years I've tried doing everything that I can think of, and everything that I have read here. Changed stem lengths, saddles (4 times), seat angles, heights, and extensions, done extensive stretching, made sure I drank enough, etc... About the only thing I haven't done is change my bike (A XC full suspension ride). I've ridden with it for so long that I've become accustomed to it, and as the season goes on it gets less, but never goes away... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?

    About the only thing I'm not really ready to do is arbitrarily go to a doctor. I just don't like 'em and I'm flat broke, so it's just not going to happen.

    Thanks.
    The compressed disk is probably the problem. I have one too. The "cure" may take some time depending on how bad yours is, but here's what I did. First thing, continue to SLOWLY and PROPERLY stretch your lower back and hamstrings (they conect under your lower back). If you need to learn how to properly stretch, use the internet. Most people do it improperly, which can damage the muscle tissue and cause more soreness. I know b/c I was a powerlifter for years.
    Next, look into a used inversion table (ebay) or inversion boots (cheaper, but can hard for some people to get hooked into). What these do is allow gravity to gently pull those disks back into alignment and allow more fluid to get between the disks. You only need 5-10 min per day with these and you should get some results in a month or two (depending on your condition). The trick is to not stop these exercises after you feel better!
    This next one may sound strange, but chiroprators in Europe use this. Go get one of those "fun noodles" floating foam device that kids play with in the pool (under $5). Get a straight one. Lay on your back with it under your spine (from head to butt). Do this for 15 min. when you watch TV or something...it will help align your disks too. Again, it won't work in a day...takes a month atleast! But it's cheaper than a doctor or chiroprator, who will just mask the pain with drugs.
    How old is your mattress? If you're like me, I'll sleep on a mattress until there's a permanent dip in it from my body. If your's is close to 10 years old- get a new one. That causes ALOT of back pain! My wife and I got one of those space age foam ones and WOW my back was literally better the next day! There were some nights I had so much pain in my back, that I slept on the floor! (It hurt still, but less).
    My last suggestion, which does cost a little, but has really helped me recover from rides and feel 100% better than I did without it is a massage chair. WAIT! DO NOT look at one of those vibrating pads that are good for women (you know what I mean). I'm talkin about the iJoy chair from A Sharper Image. Holy crap this chair is better than a real, professional massuse! Go see them in person at a Sharper Image Store in your area...you will see what I mean! You can try em out in the store! They cost $700 there, but they sell on Ebay too. I got mine for $500 and couldn't be happier. I get a lot of company all of a sudden...I was thinkin about charging $5 for 15 min to my friends which would pay for the chair in a week! lol. Think about it...I don't bother stretching much anymore with that chair around...I get a 30min massage atleast every night!
    Sorry to ramble, but remember, these things take some time to heal and you have to watch not to keep reinjuring the back too. But biking is pretty low impact. But maybe take it easy for awhile while your are trying these things. Ibuprofin can only assist in the inflamation but cannot fix the problem. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    First thing to do is to stop blaming the bike. Just like taking two pounds off your bike isn't nearly as effective as taking two pounds of fat off your torso.

    I also have a bulging disc at L4/L5. Stretching only does so much. It isn't going to fix the problem but may help a little. What you really need to do is stregnthen your core muscles. You need to do 100-200 situps a day and weight bearing back exercises to get the abs and back strong enough that your spine doesn't move all over the place when you do things like sit hunched over your handle bars for a couple of hours.

    As with any sport, you can't become strong enough to perform at a somewhat high level just by doing the sport. You need to work out to get the muscles strong enough to *easily* support your body for what you are doing.

    Now I just need to practice what I preach. I haven't done any situps in almost a week, and last night's 25 mile road ride did get a little painful.

  7. #7
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    Along with all the other advise. You may want to check into working the opposing muscles. Specifically--Your core---Abs. To every primary muscle, there is an opposing muscle which will work to compensate for any wickness of the primary. In which case, lower back pain is often sympotmatic of weak abs. Of course bike fit, and all that is also a factor, but core strenght is a big part of it.
    "You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals."
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  8. #8
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    read lots of books, i'll suggest two that really helped me:

    the mind/body connection by john sarno or back sense by ronald siegel...for some its too far fetched but for me they worked wonders...cant hurt, its cheap and they are quick reads...good luck...
    BBZ

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  9. #9
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    Didn't Howard Stern use to rave about that book by Sarno? He used to go on and on about the mind/body/back connection.....

    I suffer back pain on long rides too. Becomes excrutiating after 1hr or so, which sucks b/c our longest trail gets harder towards the end. And this is on the FS!

    Naproxen sodium (generic Aleve) works pretty well, two tablets before a ride. Not something I do very often, though, as I've heard it can cause problems if you're dehydrated while it's in your bloodstream or something.

    Would love a new mattress if I had the money. Every morning, I wake up feeling like I've been punched in the kidneys.
    "We sat outside the dentist, tooting a horn on the guy's bike."-overheard in the Underground

  10. #10
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    I've had backache on every ride of a 43 year riding and racing career. If anyone on this site thinks they have the cure for you then they can probably make lots of money as internet cyber-docs. Your only hope is the find the RIGHT medical person who can diagnose YOUR condition and treat it correctly. But even that's not easy as I haven't found the holy grail yet. I just accept backache while riding and YES I've tried everything that anyone here is likely to suggest and more.

    One thing I will suggest from experience and it's as good a suggestion as you're likely to get - start with the rock bottom basic and make sure your multifidus muscle is in top form. Without its proper function, everything else is a waste of time. Google it.
    Mike The Bike's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

  11. #11
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    Best thing I can advise is to build up your back and stomach muscles - they work together and one without the other can cause serious problems. I used to have serious back troubles and started ice-skating which built up my lower back muscles which led to no more back pain. Ice or inline skating really build your back muscles and also your hip muscles.
    Last edited by LyNx; 04-27-2005 at 09:05 PM.
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  12. #12
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    There was an article in an Australian cycle mag recently on this issue.

    As I recall it suggested that excessive situps and the like were redundant because the real support for the lower back came from abdominal traverus muscles (may have the name wrong) and this is what should be strengthened to avoid back pain.
    "The man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest" Henry David Thoreau (obviously a single speeder)

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  13. #13
    cut like the fog.
    Reputation: bones's Avatar
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    wow

    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Clyde
    Sorry, pal, but the culprit is more than likely a compressed disc in your spine that's pinching your sciatic nerve. I've had the condition for years, and have even had an operation. The fact is, all you can do is some stretching and conditioning exercises that will limber you up, and take some of the strain off the back.

    Wait, I'm wrong. The magic cure is Tylenol w/codeine #3, but it doesn't mix well with riding

    Best wishes on finding a conditioning regimen that will minimize the discomfort.

    Clyde
    That has to qualify for the best example of only knowing enough to make you dangerous.

    Compressed disc and sciatic nerve? - how do you figure that?

    The fact is, all you can do is some stretching and conditioning exercises - that's a fact?

    Tylenol and Codeine? - http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic3/codeine_ad.htm
    Sounds like a great mixture while out riding.

    scary.

    b.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerPlunk
    Hey, I'm looking for a magic cure here... I've ridden with lower back pain (a numbness that occurs after a few miles of climbing and worsens as I descend) for as long as I can remember. Over the years I've tried doing everything that I can think of, and everything that I have read here. Changed stem lengths, saddles (4 times), seat angles, heights, and extensions, done extensive stretching, made sure I drank enough, etc... About the only thing I haven't done is change my bike (A XC full suspension ride). I've ridden with it for so long that I've become accustomed to it, and as the season goes on it gets less, but never goes away... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?

    About the only thing I'm not really ready to do is arbitrarily go to a doctor. I just don't like 'em and I'm flat broke, so it's just not going to happen.

    Thanks.
    I wouldn't call going to a doctoer "arbitrary" if you've had this problem for as long as you can remember......unless you just have a really short memory.

    Once the doctor tells you there's nothing wrong physically (hopefully), youcan go back to stretching......or.....ignore a possible issue and lear to stretch properly and regularly (at least once every day and sometimes more)

    I used to have similar symptoms...THey still come back occasionally, but rarely. I went to see a really good physical therapist that showed me how to stretch my hamstrings, quads, calves (for my knees, mostly). I also do ab work, per the therapist. I found out that the hamstring stretches that I was doing were actually harming my lower back.....because I was doing them incorrectly.

    I also take Pilates classes occasionally. Solving your back pain is a life-long endeavor. It's not a quick fix...assuming you son't have a medical condition.

  15. #15
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    Holy crap, go see a doctor, if you can't afford one, get a good job that has good benefits to get one. Find out what's "specificially" wrong with you from a specialist. Then "work" from there.
    This goes to everyone here who doesn't have a clue what ails them. *rt* you might be having kidney problems, for shitsakes go see a doctor.....
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  16. #16
    Mmmm...Pivo!
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    Geez, only a numbness?!? Be happy! I suffered with a sore lower back for years--numbness described the good days, excrutiating would describe the bad.

    It turns out my solution was the bike itself--I had a bike that I was sort of perched on top of with a big hump in my back. My back suffered. I then got a Specialized Rockhopper that was a bit longer (I have a long torso, but short legs), my back was then straight, and the serious suffering I used to deal with was long gone. Since that time, I have not found another brand of bike that suited my back better.

    You could try alternate seat posts, necks, stems, etc, but I would recommend a bike with a frame on which your back stays straighter. If that doesn't work, lots of sit-ups, stretching, and back exercizes should help. If that doesn't help, opiate derivatives are your only other option.

  17. #17
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    Every back problem is unique

    Quote Originally Posted by PerPlunk
    Hey, I'm looking for a magic cure here... I've ridden with lower back pain (a numbness that occurs after a few miles of climbing and worsens as I descend) for as long as I can remember. Over the years I've tried doing everything that I can think of, and everything that I have read here. Changed stem lengths, saddles (4 times), seat angles, heights, and extensions, done extensive stretching, made sure I drank enough, etc... About the only thing I haven't done is change my bike (A XC full suspension ride). I've ridden with it for so long that I've become accustomed to it, and as the season goes on it gets less, but never goes away... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?

    About the only thing I'm not really ready to do is arbitrarily go to a doctor. I just don't like 'em and I'm flat broke, so it's just not going to happen.

    Thanks.
    Chiropractors are the experts with by far the most education and training on back-related problems. A first visit is normally free and a very educational experience. Go interview a few and hear their "sales pitch". The higher priced ones are usually the least effective in really curing you. The ones who will allow you to contribute what you can afford are the most effective, true healers. And they work with most insurance companies.

    Acupressure massage and acupuncture are very effective too although usually only temporary relief for chronic problems.

    Resort to drugs and cutting only if you can't survive without them. Drugs cover up the real problems and give a false sense of wellness which can further your aggravation of the maladjustment. Surgery leads to more surgery and not a cure for the same problem 80% of the time.

    - ray
    Last edited by derby; 04-28-2005 at 10:32 AM.

  18. #18
    Ride what you want!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf
    . Tylenol Arthritis helps and even though I'm a scientist, I've found a good chiropractor I trust and seeing him regularly really helps.
    Yeah, I have one of those physical/logical conflicts every time I go to my chiropractor.

    george
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  19. #19
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    I've been known to ride with one of those OSHA approved gut belts , that are used for support when lifting things.
    It's no cure, but it helps.

  20. #20
    Part-time rider
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    Yoga stretches

    Have you tried yoga stretches? There are a lot of poses you can do to alleviate back pains (i.e. cobra, prayer stretch). Check out this site for some useful info: http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/postures.asp

    You can also try getting a beginner yoga DVD which is the next best thing to attending a class (which isn't a bad idea considering all the great intro offers out there). It will be a $15 well spent.

    K-Zero
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by *rt*
    i have similar lower back pain but i don't get the numbness. instead i get a band of pain across my lower back right about kidney level with worse pain on the right side. starts about 45 minutes into a race and increases for the rest of the time. by about 2 hrs in it feels like someone is sticking a knife into the right side of my back.
    That describes my pain exactly. Buying a new bike to possibly cure my back pain sounds like a great idea to me. I hadn't thought of that excuse. I have tried almost everything else I can think of so far with no luck (doctors, PT, chiropractors, yoga, massage, etc ...)

  22. #22
    chef on wheels
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    I used to get sever back pain, especially on the left side, and a little numbness too. Mostly from riding in too big gear ( when I would road race). I did a couple of things that really helped. One was what some others have mentioned: yoga is great, really hepled in relieving the numbness. Build up those abdominals! Try to stay as relaxed as you can on long climbs. The thing that has helped most is warming up on a trainer before I hit the trails. It also never hurts to take some kind of pain reliver (Aleve for me) before I ride. Just don't take aspirin, it may upset your stomach. For those of you that get pain that is more on one side than the other, I recommend you get your leg lengths checked out. One of my legs is longer than the other. I have a shim under my left cleat now, and that resolved the left side pain. Hope this all helps!

  23. #23
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    Thanks all

    I appreciate the responses. I've looked up some of these spinal problems on the 'net and don't really think that I have one of those. For the most part I don't fit in the age group (did I mention I'm still a young 'un? :P ), and often pain radiates down the leg, which I have never had. Building the abdominal muscles sounds like a good idea as does some more intensive stretching. I'll certainly try that out... I'm sure my beer gut doesn't help at all... I'll try doing some sit-ups and what not, though last time I tried those I might have been slightly intoxicated and ended up sleeping on the floor... Go figure...

    As for the doctor/chiropractor thing... Yeah, not a fan at all... Last time I messed up my shoulder all they did was tell me I messed my shoulder up, here is some hydrocodone, and here is your bill. Gee thanks... But yeah... That's my problem...

    Thanks for the help.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CONewb
    I used to get sever back pain, especially on the left side, and a little numbness too. Mostly from riding in too big gear ( when I would road race). I did a couple of things that really helped. One was what some others have mentioned: yoga is great, really hepled in relieving the numbness. Build up those abdominals! Try to stay as relaxed as you can on long climbs. The thing that has helped most is warming up on a trainer before I hit the trails. It also never hurts to take some kind of pain reliver (Aleve for me) before I ride. Just don't take aspirin, it may upset your stomach. For those of you that get pain that is more on one side than the other, I recommend you get your leg lengths checked out. One of my legs is longer than the other. I have a shim under my left cleat now, and that resolved the left side pain. Hope this all helps!
    Thanks for the tip. How did you get your leg measured?

  25. #25
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    Try a singlespeed

    Quote Originally Posted by PerPlunk
    Hey, I'm looking for a magic cure here... I've ridden with lower back pain (a numbness that occurs after a few miles of climbing and worsens as I descend) for as long as I can remember. Over the years I've tried doing everything that I can think of, and everything that I have read here. Changed stem lengths, saddles (4 times), seat angles, heights, and extensions, done extensive stretching, made sure I drank enough, etc... About the only thing I haven't done is change my bike (A XC full suspension ride). I've ridden with it for so long that I've become accustomed to it, and as the season goes on it gets less, but never goes away... Does anyone else have a similar experience or have any other recommendations?

    About the only thing I'm not really ready to do is arbitrarily go to a doctor. I just don't like 'em and I'm flat broke, so it's just not going to happen.

    Thanks.
    it makes you stand a lot more, sure you could try standing and hammering more on your geared ride but a single speed makes you stand and hammer and the back pain you may feel in the begining goes away after the muscles get stronger. Also try doing sit ups and other core strengthing excercises.

    I once read that of all the medical records from a doctor in ancient Egypt no patient ever complained of back pain, people would travel for days to see the doctor and no one even mentioned back pain, probibly because it was just an accepted fact of life.

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