April 26, 2021 at 09:16 #589307
I’ve been dealing with back pain for the past several years — muscular, not spinal. I’ve gone to acupuncture, seen a chiropractor, worked with a physical therapist, gotten multiple professional bike fits, and now I’m doing Foundation Training to really focus in on strengthening those muscles.
No one tells me the same thing. I get different messages on stretching, foam rolling, strengthening, movement training, and equipment. I’ve put in a huge amount of time, effort, and money trying to fix this, and at best it’s a bit better for a while.
I’m doing my best to stay positive and keep working on my back (and general core) muscles in the hopes that I can ride for more than an hour without those muscles getting super sore or locking up. But it’s getting harder and harder to imagine myself overcoming this pain.
Have you overcome back pain? Do you deal with it all the time? Does it happen early in the year and then fade out as you get stronger? How do you deal with your back pain? I just want to hear stories from other riders out there to help me keep some perspective.
Stay safe out there!
April 26, 2021 at 17:53 #589343
If you are building up your core muscles, that should help. It worked for me. What bike do you ride? Are you sure it is set up correctly for you and it is the right size for you? You may want to try and raise your handle bars a bit so your body is more upright.
April 27, 2021 at 08:21 #589364
I’m currently on a size 4 GG Pedalhead (I’m 6’2″ with long legs) and a Giant Contend XL on the road. I’ve had back pain on numerous bikes over the past few years. Now that I think about it, though, the last time I felt solid on a bike was when I was on a road bike that was maybe a little too small for me. Interesting. The Pedalhead has a riser stem and bars, so I’m about as upright as I can be on it. The Giant is set up that way too, but since it’s a road bike, it’s definitely more leaned over.
Any particular core exercises that worked well for you?
Thanks for your response!
April 27, 2021 at 13:22 #589383
After years of chronic back pain, here are somethings that I think help.
1. This is probably the most important thing on my list and that is “WALKING”. Human beings have evolved to be walking machines otherwise known as hunter-gathers. A human body needs to be walked. Any day you’re not bike riding you should be walking for at least one hour. This is the most fundamental way to strengthen your core.
2. Lose the gut. A body isn’t made to have 10, 20, 30+ pounds of weight hanging off the front.
3. Ride a full-sus, progressive-geo 29er Mountain bike with wide low-pressure tires. Most important is that the bike comes with at 76* or steeper seattube. This keeps you from being bent at the waist. You might also want to shove the seat all the way forward which effectively steepens the seatube even more. Having full-sus and wide low-pressure tires reduces the pounding and vibration. I have a full-sus bike with 29×2.6 tires at 17psi with the seat pushed all the way forward. I bought the bike a size too large and then shoved the seat all the way forward and put on shorter stem with the handlebars raised as high as they will go. However, you don’t want to be cramped. Make sure your reaching forward not down. You want your body to be stretched out. I also use a full-sus XC bike with 700×43 gravel tires as my road/gravel bike. It also has the seat forward and the bars raised. The unsuspended slack-seatube cramped-up aero-position of a road bike is a sure recipe for back pain!
April 28, 2021 at 11:31 #589485
Interesting! I hadn’t thought of walking as a core exercise, but that makes perfect sense. I’ve been trying to move more in general, but I’ll try to up the walking!
The seat tube angle on my Pedalhead is 74º, which is definitely slacker than most modern progressive bikes. I wonder if I can rent something with a steeper STA to see if it feels better right away. Could also slam the seat forward — I’m not sure how much of a horizontal difference a couple degrees makes. I might be able to simulate a bit of a steeper seat tube that way.
I’ve been doing a lot of lower back strengthening, but backed off a bit on the abdominal stuff (leg lifts, planks, dead bug, etc.). Maybe I’ll try putting that back in, too.
Thanks for the tips! It definitely gives me hope that I can conquer this pain.
April 27, 2021 at 15:52 #589409
Leg lifts and sit ups mostly. Also, you may want try try some yoga exercises that focus on your lower back muscles. As Bike Nerd suggested, weight loss around the midsection will help too.
April 28, 2021 at 11:35 #589488
Another quick question; is the real benefit of a steeper seat tube angle (in this instance, not overall) a shorter effective top tube? I’d love to figure out how to ride a road bike comfortably, and going to a smaller size would basically shorten the ETT . . . I think.
April 28, 2021 at 21:28 #589540
Your core is a key factor. If your not into walking you can do the same on the bike bike by weighting the pedals so your pretty much not holding the bars but just guiding them. Its not that easy but in time you’ll ride and feel better by not being so tense in the shoulders from hanging on to tight.
April 29, 2021 at 09:55 #589592
Pushing the saddle forward is not to get a shorter effective top tube. If you push your saddle forward and raise your handlebars, you will likely need to use a longer stem to get your fit right. Fit is the distance from the saddle to your handlebars. The goal here is to make it so that your back is straighter and less bent. If your fit is too short or too long, then you are making your back bend more. An old school XC bike with a slack seattube and very low handle bars makes you very bent over. A modern Enduro bike with a steep seatube and very high bars makes your back very straight even though the fit on both bikes could be the same.
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