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My first post - looking for back pain advice

prettycitygirl2010-05-02 10:24:51 +0000 #1
Hello, All! This is my first post! I’m super excited to have discovered this forum! I hope youg gals can share some knowledge and guidance, as I am in need!

I’ve been spinning for a year now, taking 3-classes a week. I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!

I’ve always been comfortable on the spin bike and haven’t had any major issues – that is, until about 2-weeks ago.

I was in class and about half way though, my lower back really started to ache. I felt like I needed to sit up on the saddle to relieve pressure in my lower back. Also, the more resistance, the greater the pain. And forget about mashing - that REALLY hurt.

I am short (5’ tall) and was spinning with lower handlebars and the instructor told me to raise them up 2-knoches, but the pain was still there and I was unable to finish class.

The pain is lower lumbar and best described as a burning to aching pain. I will get a sharp pain when I extend my back (bending back). Sitting up for an extended period of time is aggravating as well. I’ve noticed that my back tends to feel better when I flex my back (bending forward/arch), but the relief doesn’t last long before I feel like I have to sit up again. ((Slouching isn't very comfortable))

In my last class, I raised the handlebars up even higher than before, just shy of the max height. I was able to spin the entire class with little discomfort, but all class, my back ached.

I went to my doctor and had x-rays done (looked good), so w/o doing an MRI, he really couldn’t say too much, other than recommending I do 4-weeks of physical therapy on my lower back. If that doesn’t help, then the MRI is next.

My question to you all is, is lower back pain common with someone who has hyper-extended their back? Since I’ve got short arms, are the higher handlebars the best way to go? I’ve been told that my seat height and position look fine. (B-4). How long should might it take for my body to get use to higher handlebars and feel some relief?

Any advice?

Biciclista2010-05-02 10:40:02 +0000 #2
The answer to your question is in your body; we're all different. Being short and stretched out too far is a common problem for women. We all heal at different speeds, so no one can really answer that question as to how long. As for whether or not the higher handlebars will help, if they can't get them in closer to you any other way; UP is the way to go. A lot of the people I ride with are older (and stiffer) and they tend to raise their handlebars. On my bike the handlebars are a tiny bit higher than my saddle, I'm less than 5'4" and I'm 57 years old.

good luck and welcome to TE.
Zen2010-05-02 10:47:12 +0000 #3
Spin bikes, like most other machinery at the gym, are not designed for short people.

I raise the handlebars as far as they will go.

is the pain in your butt or down the back of your leg?
prettycitygirl2010-05-02 11:29:56 +0000 #4
Thanks for replies, ladies!

The pain is only in my lower back. It's not in my butt or leg.

I use to have the handlebars just a right above my saddle height (3). I can't get closer to the handlebars won't come closer so up it is.....
ny biker2010-05-02 10:52:09 +0000 #5
There are so many varieties of back pain, so this might not help, but...when my back hurts it is usually about hip level on the right side, which has been diagnosed as a sacroiliac problem. I've had the problem for many years, but it got worse when I started doing lots of cycling. The thing that helped most was to start a regular stretching routine that I do several times per week at a minimum. Stretching the hamstrings was most important for my back, although it's best to stretch all the major muscle groups rather than just focus on one thing.

This book has a lot of good stretches:

A good physical therapist should be able to give you specific advice on stretches that should help your back.
tulip2010-05-02 10:57:42 +0000 #6
Physical therapy will likely really help alot. I had terrible lower back pain for several years. It was not from cycling, but from stress, bad furniture at work, and a weak core. I found excellent relief from regular chiropractic visits with a chiropractor who is also a cyclist and physical therapist, and from doing Pilates with a reputable instructor.

I've been pain free for several years. I no longer go to the chiropractor, but I still do Pilates. Pilates really strengthens the core and stretches everything.

I hope you get relief soon.
Zeek2010-05-02 11:52:18 +0000 #7
Tulip mentions a weak core. I tend to agree with her: strengthening your core is a good idea. Also, when is the last time an instructor checked our set-up (not just the handlebar height, but the fore/aft and the height). Might be worth getting set up all over again. Settings for people can change over the years. I'd recommend that too.

Good luck. I had back surgery some years ago (L4/L5 discectomy) and it worked out well for me. I hope you don't have to go to those measures (it doesn't sound like it based on the kind of discomfort you are having).
tctrek2010-05-02 13:50:02 +0000 #8
This sounds like an inflamed SI joint. I have chronic lower back pain that gets very bad when I ride or spin. I get one hip hitched up higher than the other, which makes my back crooked. Inflammation starts, muscles spasm and that's the end of that.

Stretching, especially your hip flexors, and icing it down are things you can do. Then get someone else to massage or do PT. I go to a chiropractor once or twice a month and he whacks my hips back in alignment and there's magic for a while with no pain. Then I do a hard ride or a rowdy spin class and it's back out again. I'm 5'1" and 57 years old and it's not going to get better, but you can learn to deal with it.

The worst thing you can do is ignore it... stretch, icing, PT along with ensuring you have the best bike fit as possible.. for a shorty, that is



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