Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a really bad back. For years I have had problems and recent MRI showed a herniated disc at L5. (I suspect I aggravated it lifting stuff in the garage.) I have taken a couple months off, had steroid shots in the back, therapy, bought an inversion table - bottom line trying everything to get my back better. I was finally feeling good enough to get back on my bike yetserday and the pain instantly returned.

I now want to try some changes in my bike configuration. Has anyone tried these changes and been successful? I have ridden for years with my very well fit bike with no problems. With recent injury to my back I believe it is time to make some changes to bike fit to help until my back is 100% better. I need to ride!!!

I have a Look 595 with carbon everything. I am willing to make changes as required. I would think raising bars would be a first step. Ideas??

Thanks.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
13,010 Posts
Bars up is a start. Maybe some wider tires to cut down on the vibrations and impacts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,250 Posts
Shorter stem.

Gel tape on the bars.

Wider saddle with good support. I use a San Marco Regal.

Less tire pressure.

Saddle nose slightly down to allow the hips and lower spine to stay in alignment.

Shorter crank arms. 170 or even a 165.

Cleats moved further back away from the toe.

Hows the flexibility, if it's not so hot, I'd be working on that quite a bit.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,254 Posts
bikerneil said:
I have a really bad back. For years I have had problems and recent MRI showed a herniated disc at L5. (I suspect I aggravated it lifting stuff in the garage.) I have taken a couple months off, had steroid shots in the back, therapy, bought an inversion table - bottom line trying everything to get my back better. I was finally feeling good enough to get back on my bike yetserday and the pain instantly returned.

I now want to try some changes in my bike configuration. Has anyone tried these changes and been successful? I have ridden for years with my very well fit bike with no problems. With recent injury to my back I believe it is time to make some changes to bike fit to help until my back is 100% better. I need to ride!!!

I have a Look 595 with carbon everything. I am willing to make changes as required. I would think raising bars would be a first step. Ideas??

Thanks.
What does your Physical Therapist say?

I have all kinds of back problems according to my MRI, but once I'm wamed up my back episodes are infrequent. However, when they occur, I can't even lift my hands into the sink to wash them without my knees buckling.

I have herniations at L5, S1, degenerative arthritis, nerve root impingement. They wanted to do the epidural steroid injections, but my episode was resolving itself on its own and I refused them..

Anyway, what I'm getting at, if you have these severe back issues and you're in debilitating pain, raising your bars a few cm's isn't going to help.

How is your weight and overall condition? What makes your back worse? Extension, or bending forward as you would to reach your bars. When I reach for the bars, the stretching alleviates some of my issues. In my case. bending forward to ride seems to help. In yours it may be making you worse but if you were able to ride your bike for years in the current setup, there may be other issues than bending.

What kind of therapy and maintenance are you doing for your back?

You may have lost a lot of strength and flexibility in your layoff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,160 Posts
thoughts...

You need expert advice. While raising the bars is always the standard response, consider that the more vertical the back becomes, the greater the weight on the discs. A lot of vibration and shock also gets transferred up through the saddle. I would not assume that a more upright position is better.

I would think that shock absorption would be important. You might need a MTB or cross bike with larger softer tires for awhile.

An expert might tell you to stay off the bike, period.
 

·
Master debator.
Joined
·
8,777 Posts
Good advice. I have some back problems also. I ride motorcycle quite a bit also. I ride a crotch rocket exclusively. A more upright bike is actually harder on my back. The upright position seems to transfer more compression and jarring on my lower back, think riding a horse. Leaning forward puts more of the emphasis on the legs and shoulders for absorption. I have set up my road bike in a similar manner. I do stretch my lower back more often than most people.
I highly doubt what works for one will work for another though, but you can try different things and sometimes conventional wisdom works in reverse.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,254 Posts
C-40 said:
You need expert advice. While raising the bars is always the standard response, consider that the more vertical the back becomes, the greater the weight on the discs. A lot of vibration and shock also gets transferred up through the saddle. I would not assume that a more upright position is better.

I would think that shock absorption would be important. You might need a MTB or cross bike with larger softer tires for awhile.

An expert might tell you to stay off the bike, period.
Generally, I agree.

My thoughts, and I'm not a medical expert, are that once you're pain free and able to move, it's very important to do the stretching to maintain a full range of motion, and to do the strengthing to keep the body in balance.

This whole back injury area is kind of like the black arts from my experience. You may take advice from the experts, but ultimately it's up to you to find out what works and what doesn't and to be really in tune with your body. If you used to ride for 2,3,4, or 5 hours and just jumped on the bike, now you're going to have to devote at least a half hour of that time to slowly and gently work your body into being able to handle the rigors of normal movements.

Until you injure your back, you don't realize that those muscles are always working to enable you to do the most simple things like sitting up straight and walking.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,254 Posts
Multifidus exercises work for a lot of people.

While on your hands and knees with your back parallel to the floor and your arms straight and perpendicular to the floor, parallel to the femurs, which are straight up and down perpendicular to the floor, extend your right arm over your head parallel to the floor, and at the same time extend your left leg back so the femur is parallel, or if you can, somewhat above parallel to the floor. Do this very slowly, hold that position, then lower to the starting position.

Then extend the left arm and right leg back slowly and hold. Do this extremely deliberately. I shoot for 10 on each side alternately. You probably do more but I think the important thing is to isolate the multifidus, which is the muscle that holds the vertebrae together in line.

This exercise has been miraculous for me.
 

·
What up, dog?
Joined
·
446 Posts
I also had (have) an injury at L5-S1. I did a couple things that helped:

*dropped the saddle about .5 cm
*shorter stem (110 vs 120), and flipped if for a little height.
*different pedals that allowed more float
*ride more on the top of the bars than I used to

It all helped somewhat. One thing I will recommend - don't get hit by a car while riding to work. It'll ruin your whole day.

One other thing I'd like to do - get more pool time in the off season. Skiing is a little tough on it though. I also bought an inversion table which has been a nice addition to the hopes of having a healthier back.
 

·
Two wheels=freedom!
Joined
·
708 Posts
Getting back on the bike after an injury like that, I would check with your orthopedest first. Mine also recommended EASIER GEARS for starters. I would go to a compact crank and a medium/long cage RD and a mountain bike style cassette, like an SRAM 990 in 11-34.

Powerful legs + weak lower back + hard gears = pain and injury

I also needed to work on abdominals to help support the back. Core strength has helped keep my back safe. I am especially carefull when out of the saddle to make sure my abs are tightened to help prevent further back injuries.
 

·
What up, dog?
Joined
·
446 Posts
rdolson said:
I also needed to work on abdominals to help support the back. Core strength has helped keep my back safe. I am especially carefull when out of the saddle to make sure my abs are tightened to help prevent further back injuries.
My only issue with that was that in order to work on my core, I had to be well enough to start, and I've never gotten to that point. Every time I work the core, I aggravate the injury, and have to start all over again.

That is one nice thing about using the inversion table - no pressure on the lower back from any kind of pivot point.

Just one of those "dirty little secrets"...core exercise isn't the easiest thing to do post-injury.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,250 Posts
Someone mentioned it above, but I think it might well be the most important advice.

Drop as much weight as possible. If you can get yourself rail thin it will often make a huge difference in how you feel when your bent over on your bike.

My two biggest factors in riding pain free have been staying skinny and working on my flexibility everyday.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
160 Posts
Had the same problem probably 15 years ago. I was properly treated by a Physiatrist - a physician who specializes in rehabilitation.

See this link http://www.aapmr.org/condtreat/what.htm

Received therapy which was mostly stretching and strengthening. But most importantly learned how to protect my back from further injury in a few sessions of "Back School". I can now ride and more importantly live pain free.
 

·
Lemur-ing
Joined
·
18,987 Posts
I was about to say that you might not want to raise the bars as the best option because of what C-40 said.

Well, the best option is to see a sports medicine orthopedic and if possible, one who's fairly familiar with cycling as well because for now, bike fit would be paramount for you.

MTBs might be in store perhaps. I'd see a medical professional asap so you can get this out of the way and know what you can do and how to work your way around things quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
843 Posts
I have to agree with C40. But I want to emphasize that you need professional help in the form of a medical fit. This means finding a physical therapist or other medical practitioner that really knows bikes and has worked on bike position with people before. It won't be cheap, and I'm not talking just a $100 fitting. But it sounds like that's what you need if you want to keep riding an upright road bike. Talking to people on the 'net can be a reasonable starting point, but I doubt that any of the other serious bike fitters who frequent these boards would say they are giving more than suggestions for the "normal" fitting question, much less a medical fit problem. You need to be seen on your bike to make any real progress. You should also get more than an adjustment to the parts on your bike. They'll make suggestions for training. There will be many things that you may or may not have ever thought you needed to use, but will probably need to be a standard part of your fitness regimen.

Get good help.

Good luck,
Bob
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,071 Posts
bikerneil said:
I have a really bad back. For years I have had problems and recent MRI showed a herniated disc at L5. (I suspect I aggravated it lifting stuff in the garage.) I have taken a couple months off, had steroid shots in the back, therapy, bought an inversion table - bottom line trying everything to get my back better. I was finally feeling good enough to get back on my bike yetserday and the pain instantly returned.

I now want to try some changes in my bike configuration. Has anyone tried these changes and been successful? I have ridden for years with my very well fit bike with no problems. With recent injury to my back I believe it is time to make some changes to bike fit to help until my back is 100% better. I need to ride!!!

I have a Look 595 with carbon everything. I am willing to make changes as required. I would think raising bars would be a first step. Ideas??

Thanks.
You might consider talking to these guys...

http://www.rivbike.com/

Getting your handlebars up, running wider tires... that's kind of Rivendell's reason for being. Figure for a while, yer not gonna be going fast anyway, so a riv-style bike might make a lot of sense.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top