Lower back, elbows and shoulder pain: Fit or Fitness?- Mtbr.com
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    Lower back, elbows and shoulder pain: Fit or Fitness?

    Over the last few rides, I've noticed that I'm leaning heavily on my hands during long climbs, which creates pain/discomfort in my elbow's, shoulders (from pressing them back), and my lower back.

    Bike set up is a medium Blur LT with an 80mm 0 rise stem, 750mm bars and a straight seat post. The fit feels good for the first hour or so, but then becomes rather uncomfortable. On the way down, its a good fit.

    Is this the result of poor bike fit or poor core fitness?
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    Do you have a picture of yourself in your riding position on your bike? My initial guess is that your bars are too low and/or seat too high. Can you provide us with more info about your size and bike setup. Pedal to top of seat, seat to handle bar drop, inseam, reach, height. More info the better!

  3. #3
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    longer stem should use narrower bars, shorter stem, wider bars. without knowing anything about your setup, it might be possible that your stem is too long. ?
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    I can speak to the lower back problem. I have what neurological surgeons call degenerative disks in my lumbar spine - which basically means I have arthritis in my back. I used to be laid up after a day at the bike park. I found this video and it is incredible how it has worked for me. It's on pink bike, you can do a search and find it. It talks about body position when you ride. Essentially you should be bending at the waist and not curving you back. So when you are in the attack position riding down or on the saddle grinding up hill, your back should be straight or flat. He gives you some exercises too to work on it. I really am aware of my body position when I ride now. And I don't experience the pain I used to the next day. Worth a try.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by myarmisonfire View Post
    Do you have a picture of yourself in your riding position on your bike? My initial guess is that your bars are too low and/or seat too high. Can you provide us with more info about your size and bike setup. Pedal to top of seat, seat to handle bar drop, inseam, reach, height. More info the better!
    I'm 5'9" with a 31" inseam. Pretty evenly proportioned reach. I'll see if I can get a pic of me on the next ride (though its going to be a bit as I'm in the middle of moving).

    The seat height is level with the bars and pedaling feels very efficient. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, my knee's are short of fully extended, but not excessively bent. I've been fit for the seat height, and feel good about the height. I've changed the bars though since the original fit, so you may be right about the bars being too low.

    Quote Originally Posted by saturnine View Post
    longer stem should use narrower bars, shorter stem, wider bars. without knowing anything about your setup, it might be possible that your stem is too long. ?
    Quote Originally Posted by Original Post
    Bike set up is a medium Blur LT with an 80mm 0 rise stem, 750mm bars and a straight seat post.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

  6. #6
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Did you change anything recently? New bike? New seat height? Longer rides? Harder routes? Helping your brother put a new roof on his garage? Or are you doing the same ol' routes as always on your trusty ol' bike and all of a sudden it has started hurting your arms?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandrenseren View Post
    Did you change anything recently? New bike? New seat height? Longer rides? Harder routes? Helping your brother put a new roof on his garage? Or are you doing the same ol' routes as always on your trusty ol' bike and all of a sudden it has started hurting your arms?
    New saddle and new post, plus longer rides along familiar routes. But when I got both of them, I went to the LBS and had them properly fit . . . though I suppose its not that proper if it ain't comfortable!

    The thing that I notice though is that if I correct my posture (e.g., straighten the back and go "light" on the hands/grips) it is quick relief. Problem is I can't really hold that posture for 45-60 minutes on a 6 mile uphill grind. That's what had me thinking its a fitness/core strength issue.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    I have mentioned it on these boards before, but I highly recommend doing this. Foundation Training was the best "upgrade" I have given myself. I am 10 times the rider I was. It is no joke, and super easy to do and fit in anywhere.
    Here is the link:

    Foundation Training : Home

  9. #9
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    Try a shorter stem with more rise so you are sitting more upright. That should reduce the stress on your back from leaning to far forward all the time.

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    I think the trick is a shorter stem with riser bars. I sure do like my Havoc's though
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    Three questions:
    What was your old saddle, what is your new saddle, and is it mounted level?

    As a general rule of thumb, the saddle should be rather level (horizontal). If the nose is down, there's an increased likelihood of undue weight being placed on the bars, although, that usually occurs on flats, not climbs. Maybe the saddle design differences altered the distance to the stem/bar, and your position has changed because of the design difference. The vertical distance from rails to the top of the saddle might be different, which can change the horizontal saddle height over the bar. Although the seatpost was changed as well, so the height shouldn't be much different if you took measurements before and after.

    Even if the saddle is level, the new saddle might have a greater upsweep toward the rear, which can be much like having a nose-down position on a flatter saddle.

    My favorite saddles are the ones whose profiles are rather flat, otherwise, the nose rises up, or the back rises up, even when set at level.

    Also, if the distance from the point where the pelvis sits on the saddle to the nose of the saddle might be different between the old and new saddles. If you set up the new saddle using distance behind the BB, or the distance to the bar, then your pelvis might be sitting in a different space. If the new saddle has a shorter nose, then you might be sitting further forward now.
    Last edited by Trail Wizard; 05-31-2012 at 03:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by James_spec View Post
    Try a shorter stem with more rise so you are sitting more upright. That should reduce the stress on your back from leaning to far forward all the time.
    ^^^^ This is what I would suggest. I had a Medium Nomad with 685mm bars and a 50mm stem. I could have gone to a 30mm, but the issue was that the TT was too long for my reach. I am 5'5" 3/4ths so I moved to a small with the same set up and all the issues of wrist and lower back pain went away. You have an 80mm stem. You could try a 50-70 and see how it works out.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Wizard View Post
    Three questions:
    What was your old saddle, what is your new saddle, and is it mounted level?

    As a general rule of thumb, the saddle should be rather level (horizontal). If the nose is down, there's an increased likelihood of undue weight being placed on the bars, although, that usually occurs on flats, not climbs. Maybe the saddle design differences altered the distance to the stem/bar, and your position has changed because of the design difference. The vertical distance from rails to the top of the saddle might be different, which can change the horizontal saddle height over the bar. Although the seatpost was changed as well, so the height shouldn't be much different if you took measurements before and after.

    Even if the saddle is level, the new saddle might have a greater upsweep toward the rear, which can be much like having a nose-down position on a flatter saddle.

    My favorite saddles are the ones whose profiles are rather flat, otherwise, the nose rises up, or the back rises up, even when set at level.

    Also, if the distance from the point where the pelvis sits on the saddle to the nose of the saddle might be different between the old and new saddles. If you set up the new saddle using distance behind the BB, or the distance to the bar, then your pelvis might be sitting in a different space. If the new saddle has a shorter nose, then you might be sitting further forward now.
    Old saddle was a WTB Pure V . . . new saddle is a Specialized Phenom, and it is mounted level with the ground based on a ruler laid across the saddle from front to back, accounting for the curve.

    I didn't think about the pelvis position. I just lined it up with the old saddle placement, but you're right it may not be the same. I'm going to play around with that first before I go out buying new parts. If that doesn't do it, the next step then will be a shorter stem. and if THAT doesn't do it, then I'll just have to get a new bike!
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    Quote Originally Posted by OO7 View Post
    Old saddle was a WTB Pure V . . . new saddle is a Specialized Phenom, and it is mounted level with the ground based on a ruler laid across the saddle from front to back, accounting for the curve.

    I didn't think about the pelvis position. I just lined it up with the old saddle placement, but you're right it may not be the same. I'm going to play around with that first before I go out buying new parts. If that doesn't do it, the next step then will be a shorter stem. and if THAT doesn't do it, then I'll just have to get a new bike!
    What you might want to do is take the old WTB saddle and place it on top of the Specialized one. Match up the curvatures that go outward toward the rears of the saddles (matching up the spots where you would sit), while looking overhead at them. There might be a difference in where the noses line up.
    If the shop replicated your setup using BB setback or nose-to-bar distance, and the noses of the two saddles don't match up, then you might need to adjust the saddle fore/aft.
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    Hmm I'm having sort of the same problem. During the rides I notice that I'm resting my hand on the handlebar instead of gripping them. I wonder what the issue is. My stem is a 90mm 7deg rise I think. I changed the handlebars to slightly smaller than the original. Probably time to get a pro fit for me see whats wrong.

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    Do you use a camelbak backpack? When I started using one I got back pain, so I tried riding without it and the pain went away. Now I just fill it up half way to avoid putting so much weight on my back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Wizard View Post
    What you might want to do is take the old WTB saddle and place it on top of the Specialized one. Match up the curvatures that go outward toward the rears of the saddles (matching up the spots where you would sit), while looking overhead at them. There might be a difference in where the noses line up.
    If the shop replicated your setup using BB setback or nose-to-bar distance, and the noses of the two saddles don't match up, then you might need to adjust the saddle fore/aft.
    You know what, that's exactly what they did. I still have the old saddle and will do a comparison tomorrow.

    Quote Originally Posted by cfrea View Post
    Hmm I'm having sort of the same problem. During the rides I notice that I'm resting my hand on the handlebar instead of gripping them. I wonder what the issue is. My stem is a 90mm 7deg rise I think. I changed the handlebars to slightly smaller than the original. Probably time to get a pro fit for me see whats wrong.
    One of the best things I did for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salt Yeti View Post
    Do you use a camelbak backpack? When I started using one I got back pain, so I tried riding without it and the pain went away. Now I just fill it up half way to avoid putting so much weight on my back.
    I do use a camelbak, and wish that I could just use a bottle, but the Blur doesn't have any cage mounts. I don't always fill it up all the way, but on some rides its just necessary. I'm giving serious thought though to one of the newer ones that puts the bladder down low by the waist.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    I tend to set the fore and aft on my seat by the feeling of my leverage onto my cranks. If a new seat was inch back i would think i would know it rite away. Not necessarily by the feeling of reach but the loss of leverage from my legs and core to my cranks. Somthing about my body type to were i like my seat more than normal forward. Or else i feel like im kicking forward and i cant get my into my pedal stroke naturally with my core. Like trying to do a squat when leaning back There is just that sweet spot forbyou body type that might brake the fitting rules. I figure once that optimal pedal stoke is established then the height and distance of reach can be established to suit your riding style and comfort.
    I can say that if your seat is now too far back it might cause you to start.waddling your hips and hurt you lower back and the newer extended reach could be putting a new strain onyou arms bexause when climbing i do find i do alot of pulling on my bars with stable hips to access power from my core down into my feet.

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    How many real/good push-ups can you do in a row?
    How many full sit-ups can you do in a row?
    How many pull-ups can you do in a row?

    You see where I'm going.

    Basic core strength and upper body fitness is key to sustained performance riding. It lets the legs do their job better and keeps overall form the same from the first mile to the last.

    Answer those questions above and see where you stand for the average fit male. If you're far below the average a basic strength program will do wonders, but it takes time and is painful in the beginning. A simple push-up/sit-up/pull-up/lunge and run program using only your body weight is more than sufficient. Get through the first two weeks of pain, focus on your technique, eat/sleep well and your riding will improve.

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    I dont know if this means anything but my bike has a 72deg seatube angle; and the seat centered feels all wrong. Ihave it pushed almost all the.way forward. If the seatube was more like 73-74 my seat would probably end up more centered. Im basing that off the 1 deg change per 20mm of fork. I dont see.why we couldnt apply to this case atleast in approximation.

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    It sounds to me like you should strive for a more upright body position so as to support your weight with your feet and saddle

    Supporting body weight on your arms is BAD riding posture!

  22. #22
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    I had bad lower back issues 2 years ago. My chiro told me to strengthen my core and lower back muscles to support the spine better. So far so good. I was told to do crunches because they are lower impact compared to sit ups, and light weight on the lower back machine at the gym. You'll be surprised how much better you feel on the bike with a stronger core. I've never been one for stretching, and training exercises, but I'm religious about that stuff now out of necessity.

  23. #23
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    Anybody that has mobility issues and or back issues really needs to check out Foundation Training (foundationtraining.com).
    I am not in the habit of recommending stuff like this, but it is far superior to anything that I've tried to "correct" my body.
    You won't need your chiropractor anymore.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by morandi View Post
    Anybody that has mobility issues and or back issues really needs to check out Foundation Training (foundationtraining.com).
    I am not in the habit of recommending stuff like this, but it is far superior to anything that I've tried to "correct" my body.
    You won't need your chiropractor anymore.
    I have to second Morandi on this. I started doing the foundation exercises daily for about two months now and almost immediately improved my chronic lower back pain. Best thing I've done for my fitness in a really long time.

  25. #25
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    Saddle tilt?

    I didnít see this mentioned, but I have to point my phenom slightly nose up. If it is level at tip and tail, then it cause me to slide forward on the saddle because of the sloped tail and I fight that with pushing more against the bars. With the tail of the saddle level, nose slightly up, I have a much more neutral feeling on the saddle and dont feel like I'm sliding forward.
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  26. #26
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    Sorry I haven't updated this thread (I just moved and haven't had internet at home in like 3 weeks). Nothing to update though, other than lowering the saddle height helped a touch. I'm going this week to the LBS to get an update on the fit stand.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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