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  1. #1
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    Lower back help

    I am trying to build myself up to only riding my SS. I am doing much better, but my local trail is brutal on the climbing. I do fairly well most of the time, but when I am not on top of my game it can really hurt.

    Typically when I am tired my lower back takes most of the stress. I don't know if it is because of poor form when then legs are not as crisp, the back is the real solution to the problem of what is not as crisp, or my back just ends up trying to carry my legs up the hills.

    Does anyone have any good exercises or techniques to help with this? I really would like to improve my riding so I don't feel the need to grab the geared bike to keep up with some guys.

  2. #2
    aka baycat
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    Cobra stretch has helped me with a tight back while riding the SS. Do it after rides to stretch my back out and during rides when I feel the tightness.

    http://www.weightlossforall.com/stretch-cobra.htm

  3. #3
    AZ
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    Any of the basic core exercises will help , the more core strength the better . Hamstring stretches can also help .

  4. #4
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    P90X.

    Yeah it looks and sounds cheesy, and Tony Horton is a bit much at first, but you get used to it. If you dont want to do the whole program, just do the Core Synergistics and YogaX. I never thought I would do yoga, and dont know if this is like other yoga sessions, but my core and flexibility is worlds better than it used to be, and my joints are feeling great. In fact, pretty much all of the workouts are incredible and work your entire body. I did the whole program, and I cant say enough good things about it. My body has never been more balanced, especially my core, and it has made me an incredibly stronger rider.

    Oh yeah, and my lower back doesnt hurt anymore when I ride!

  5. #5
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    deadlifts.

    strengthens hips, lower back, quads, hamstrings, and hands.....all the essentials for ssers specifically. can't go wrong with that.

  6. #6
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    You'll get stronger. Or you won't. Stick wit it.

  7. #7
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    deadlifts.

    strengthens hips, lower back, quads, hamstrings, and hands.....all the essentials for ssers specifically. can't go wrong with that.


    Straight leg deadlifts are especially effective .

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all of the good reply's. I like that stretch.

    My lower back is not always the problem. Only when I am more tired before the ride. Don't get me wrong, it normally does hurt after several hours, but some rides it hurts right away and I just don't climb as good. My local trail uses a lot of ridge line trail. So, it goes straight up and then straight down for most of the loop. I don't have near the issue with places that have more flow.

    I'll stick with it, I am not going anywhere. I just took the shock off of the 1x1 and roll with a Pace fork.

    Never thought I would have so much fun on a fully rigid bike.

  9. #9
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    Are you climbing seated or standing?

  10. #10
    Masters' class Clydesdale
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    Tighten it 'til it strips - then back it off a quarter turn

    MTB Name = The Executioner

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic
    Are you climbing seated or standing?
    Standing

  12. #12
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    In addition to Nadamamasbody's link, which is excellent, I would like to ask about your bike fit. Often, especially on a mountain bike, fit tends toward a shorter cockpit which can cause too much rounding in the lower back. It isn't quite as noticeable due to the more upright riding position, but this 'hunch' can cause alot of undue stress on the lower back.

    If your saddle fore-aft puts you in the correct position (KOPS or even a cm behind KOPS) but you cannot rotate you pelvis forward and straighten your back, try a slightly longer stem perhaps?

    I've dealt with many complaints of bike fit, discomfort, and etc, and the common denominator is posture and technique more than any other thing. The back should be slightly rounded, not hunched, and the lower back should be in about the same position as if you were to sit upright on the edge of a chair, and then lean forward from the hips.

    One side effect of this position is that many will find more pressure on the hands. The elbows should be bent, less than or equal to about 30 degrees, and there shouldn't be excessive pressure on the hands. The core strength exercises mentioned will help the back to support more of your torso weight, and lessen hand pressure.

    Hope that helps... good luck!

  13. #13
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    Ok, just to restate my issue here.

    Most of the time I am completely happy with everything and my back is not an issue. There is a point that no matter what fit, the back will get tired. I have done 40+ mile rides on this bike and plan on doing a 75+ mile ride next weekend.

    The big issue I have is when I go for a ride and my legs are tired before we even start, my lower back hurts a lot.

    There was lots of good info on building my core and that I think I need to do more of that. I also like the cobra stretch. I will use that more often.

    I was wondering if this is normal or if there was something to do to help other then have my legs well rested before I ride. I still ended up climbing most of the hills, but the back paid the price and I was not moving at the speed I normally do.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    In addition to Nadamamasbody's link, which is excellent, I would like to ask about your bike fit. Often, especially on a mountain bike, fit tends toward a shorter cockpit which can cause too much rounding in the lower back. It isn't quite as noticeable due to the more upright riding position, but this 'hunch' can cause alot of undue stress on the lower back.

    If your saddle fore-aft puts you in the correct position (KOPS or even a cm behind KOPS) but you cannot rotate you pelvis forward and straighten your back, try a slightly longer stem perhaps?

    I've dealt with many complaints of bike fit, discomfort, and etc, and the common denominator is posture and technique more than any other thing. The back should be slightly rounded, not hunched, and the lower back should be in about the same position as if you were to sit upright on the edge of a chair, and then lean forward from the hips.

    One side effect of this position is that many will find more pressure on the hands. The elbows should be bent, less than or equal to about 30 degrees, and there shouldn't be excessive pressure on the hands. The core strength exercises mentioned will help the back to support more of your torso weight, and lessen hand pressure.

    Hope that helps... good luck!
    also watch the hunch when you are standing. Chances are if you're standing on an SS bike then you are really cranking. That can put a lot of stress on your lower back muscles if you are hunched because you have to tense them up to push your legs

    I had some lower back muscle pain when I first started doing SS because of this. Between focusing on keeping my back straighter (especially as I got tired) and raising my bars, I have been able to avoid this pain altogether.

    Core fitness definitely helps a lot too

  15. #15
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    One of the main things to remember is your legs are one of the larger muscle groups in your body and they can lay a beating on your lower back. You may have poor form sitting in a chair at work or any other daily activity you've been doing for so long you fail to realize it and this can be undermining your recreational activities like cycling.

    As you get tired, form may get sloppy and your back will give way to the overpowering effect of your legs, which are applying a torsional force on your lower back, and your upper body which is trying to resist it. There is much more to lower back pain than many people realize, and as the article I cited states, cycling relies on a solid core foundation but does little to develop it.
    Tighten it 'til it strips - then back it off a quarter turn

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  16. #16
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    find neutral

    The key to avoiding lowback abuse is to keep your lumbar spine in a neutral position while generating extreme forces in the legs; neutral for the lumbar spine is slightly lordotic (read: slightly swaybacked); as the back muscles weaken this curve is lost and more stress is put on these muscle resulting in strain...this happens both sitting and standing but can be much more severe with SS standing because of the extreme forces...especially if your gearing is way off or your cockpit is wrong (read: bars too wide/low/high/narrow/close/far etc); you must catch yourself when your posture starts to change (about when the pain starts) and correct it if you can - if you can't you must stop, usually for no more than a minute or two, and arch your back till the pain is gone - basically putting the curve back in and 'resetting' the lumbar muscles to hold that curve, then when you start out again make sure to maintain that slight arch...for long SS grinds standing this feels alot like being on a Stairmaster - upright posture, crotch near your hands, pushing straight down from your core to the ground...once your butt starts to stick out and your back starts to round then your back muscles become more involved and the pain from strain will soon follow; people who sit and spin mostly (read: gears) don't have this trouble so much unless they are out of shape or riding a bad fit; yes, all exercises that strengthen those lumbar muscles will help - the best being SS riding, the second best being any kind of 'Roman-chair'-type activity like face-down back extensions over a physioball (no dead-lifts though these will weaken your discs)

    bottom line: keep those lowback muscles tight and holding that curve in neutral and you can go forever (or at least as far as your legs and lungs let you - at least your back won't be your weak link!)

    disclaimer: this kind of activity is awesome for self correcting old spinal problems on your own...if this is the case then you will have less and less complaints as time goes on; but this kind of activity is also awesome for waking up old problems....if your complaints persists or worsen in spite of doing everything right you may have an underlying condition...find yourself a good chiropractor - usually a quick fix on someone in good enough shape to be SSing

  17. #17
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    (no dead-lifts though these will weaken your discs)
    source please.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    source please.
    The most dangerous movement you can do to your lumbar discs is to lift a heavy weight from full straight-legged flexion with slight rotation...this is one of the most common causes of disc herniations....of course a perfectly executed dead-lift should involve no rotation, but the chance should not be taken with an already symptomatic back...there are oodles of safer methods to gradually strengthen the back to the point that it can handle dead-lifts no problems...but when you're pain-free and strong enuf to do dead-lifts, wouldn't you rather be grinding your SS up a nasty hill for more strengthening? who the hell still has a barbell anyways?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsord
    The most dangerous movement you can do to your lumbar discs is to lift a heavy weight from full straight-legged flexion with slight rotation...this is one of the most common causes of disc herniations....of course a perfectly executed dead-lift should involve no rotation, but the chance should not be taken with an already symptomatic back...there are oodles of safer methods to gradually strengthen the back to the point that it can handle dead-lifts no problems...but when you're pain-free and strong enuf to do dead-lifts, wouldn't you rather be grinding your SS up a nasty hill for more strengthening? who the hell still has a barbell anyways?
    gyms still have barbells
    Last edited by boomn; 10-02-2009 at 09:51 PM.

  20. #20
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    I think bike geometry has a lot to do with any back problems.

    I had terrible back problems on my last SS, which had an older-school s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out cockpit with a long 120mm 0-degree stem. Standing up was murder, as I was slouched over pretty far to reach the handlebars. Therefore, my arms and shoulders weren't working as hard as they should be...which transferred the stress to my lower back. 3 hour rides were painful.

    My newer SS has a much different geometry. The cockpit is a tad shorter (including the shorter 100mm stem), my bars have slightly more sweep, and the bars are higher up than the last bike. Now when I stand up to crank up a hill. my arms and shoulders are doing the majority of the work, giving my back a little relief. I can do 5+ hours on this new SS without any back pain...and that's in rocky-as-sh!t central Arizona.

    You might try different bars with more rise/sweep or a shorter/taller stem. You want to move your hand position slightly back and upwards. You don't need much - maybe 5-10mm...but it's amazing the difference that makes to your body.

    And of course, without a strong core all of this is moot. Get yourself to the gym and do some core exercises. A good personal trainer works wonders in this regard.

    Good luck. As a back pain sufferer myself, I know what it's like.

    Thx...Doug

  21. #21
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    Deadlifts are not only safe, they will teach you how to protect your lower back. If you are completely clueless about form or if you insist on deadlifting beyond your ability, sure, they're dangerous--but the same is true of any exercise.

    I had some low back pain when I first started riding SS until I focused on keeping the same feeling in my low back as when I deadlift, and voila, no more pain.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsord
    The most dangerous movement you can do to your lumbar discs is to lift a heavy weight from full straight-legged flexion with slight rotation...this is one of the most common causes of disc herniations.
    i'd still like to see a source. just because you say its common here doesn't make it true. and just because regular joes throw their backs out all the time attempting to lift fridges/couches/televisions/rocks doesn't mean a properly done deadlift is dangerous and the cause of disc herniations.

    fwiw, and to avoid any misunderstandings here...only a small upper portion of the deadlift is done with straight legs.

    of course a perfectly executed dead-lift should involve no rotation, but the chance should not be taken with an already symptomatic back
    if the symptom is lower back weakness....then there's almost no question deadlifts will help immensely. and you don't need to be 3hrs+ into a ride with 3,000 feet of vertical gain standing up to tire out, and subsequently strengthen your lower back muscles. i'm certainly not suggesting to someone with bad discs to go to the gym and deadlift as much as they can with terrible form. but if your lower back continuously gets fatigued from SSing, the most fundamental exercise you can do to help it is the deadlift. and the icing on the cake is that you'll also hit your hips, quads, hamstrings and hands in the same motion....all muscles that are especially crucial to this niche in the sport.

    there are oodles of safer methods to gradually strengthen the back to the point that it can handle dead-lifts no problems
    like....doing deadlifts without a boatload of weight and concentrating on form? nobody said anything about maxing out. you can poorly execute virtually any back exercise and put yourself at risk for injury. i don't know why you're trying to scare people away from one of the best weight room exercises you can ever do.

    who the hell still has a barbell anyways?
    gyms.

  23. #23
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    double.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    i don't know why you're trying to scare people away from one of the best weight room exercises you can ever do.


    gyms.
    it's definitely a choice thing - i'm just warning those with back pain there's just a lot of much safer things to do to strengthen...

    of course a healthy spine can handle dead-lifts no prob - if that's yer bag knock yerself out

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