Low back pain question
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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Low back pain question

    Hello all. I have a question for anyone to answer. I figured this would be a perfect place to ask, considering all the years of cycling, as well as professional experience that we're drawing from. I've done two metric centuries in the past month, as well as many assorted rides in between ranging from 25 to 50 miles. It seems that as my legs get stronger, and my form tightens up, my lower back pain is getting worse. Each time out, at around 30 miles like clockwork, the left side of my lower back, just above my butt, starts to ache and burn like crazy. Have you ever reached around to your lower back and massaged those two little "knots" (sacrum?) on either side of your spine just above your glutes? That's where it starts to burn like crazy, but just on the left side! It gets to the point where it starts to rob me of power in my left leg, possibly because I just can't ignore it. This past Saturday, while doing a metric, it was worse than ever. I've only been road riding for about two years, but the problem has only just begun this spring. The funny thing is that I feel much stronger and enduring this year. At first hint of this problem, I started some core training, focusing on the abs, back and shoulders, as well as some stretching. I can feel my core getting stronger, but I can't seem to put a dent in this pain. Should I just keep keepin' on with the core training and stretching? Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    Anyone? Please?

  3. #3
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    I occasionally get a sore lower back on longer rides, but it doesn't sound nearly as bad as yours. I tend to try and stretch during the ride occasionally and that seems to help.

    Incidentally we have similar riding experience, about 2 years, and I'm feeling much stronger this year, I will do my first metric this weekend.

    I'd suggest you see a doctor, that left side only thing is a little weird. It is probably nothing serious, but it is worth checking out, they might be able to help you out, or offer some specific exercises or something.

    -Spyky

  4. #4

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    i'm new to this too

    but it sounds like you're using one leg too much over the other. are both legs equal strength? might wanna try a few miles using one leg more than the other, then the next few miles other way around.. and play around with that. it'll also improve the pedaling-in-circles form to pedal with one leg. (i'm not saying to unclip one leg, i just mean consciously decide to use one more than the other). the other thing is, i just posted this, to relax the upper body, if you aren't already.. and as always change positions a lot..for this reason i've been going in the drops more and that's helped me... and if you can ride no-hands, that can give your back a nice respite.

    sd

  5. #5
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    I think the two knots you are referring to are protrusions of the posterior superior spine of your pelvis. It is possible that the muscles in your lower back are spastic becuase your position is too 'aero'. After a long ride, those back muscles fight the enduring tug of gravity. Especially if your bike is not sized properly, that might result. Try standing up every now and then and thrusting your pelvis forward (sounds bad, but) while you ride to relax those muscles. When you get home ice up and heat down, and remember to integrate stretching (touching your toes) into your daily routine. The fact that it's unilateral is a bit bothersome; do you have scoliosis? Maybe you tend to favor one side.

    I hope this helps. Stretch, relax, ice. If that doesn't solve the problem or your symptoms worsen, see a doctor.

    Nator

  6. #6
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    Is your seat too high? I rode a century last year soon after switching cleat brands, and the lower platform of the newer cleats made for a very painful ride- and I'm thinking it was a few mm difference.

    Do you sit through all your climbs? I find if I sit through all the hills on a long ride, I'll end up with lower back pain, so I'll periodically stand to mix it up a bit.

  7. #7

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    perhaps irritated Tensor fascia latte

    , just above my butt, starts to ache and burn like crazy. Have you ever reached around to your lower back and massaged those two little "knots" (sacrum?) on either side of your spine just above your glutes? That's where it starts to burn like crazy, but just on the left side!

    I beleive I have the same thing. on the left side. I started doing an intense illiotibial band stretching regimine. I think the tensor fascia latte inserts in that little knot? I beleive that's what started it. As soon as I stopped stretching it went away for the most part. Maybe that bit of info will help.

  8. #8
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    The tensor of fascia lata originates anteriorly where you feel the bony prominences of the hip bone. It is continous with a tendonous sheath that extends posteriorly toward your sacrum and inferiorly towards your knee. I'd be hard pressed to blame the IT on this one; perhaps, stinky, your IT stretching exercises secondarily stretched the lower back muscles that caused you grief. IT pathology usually rears as hip or knee problems, and less so as back problems. What does BSDC have to say about all of this.

  9. #9

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    Along with all the other confusing possiblities we've presented here, perhaps you have a significant leg length difference. I can only reccomend "Overcome Neck and Back Pain", a brilliant book by Kit Laughlin. It has an extensive section on diagnosing the causes of back pain and discovering which stretches will help. It also presents the stretches and strengthening excercises in the most clear and detailed manner I have ever seen. Unlike most, which will just say to sort of thrust your hips this way or bend that way, this book offers page or two long descriptions of stretches along with multiple photographs. I can't reccomend it highly enough. It would also be a good idea to head into a quality shop that has a good reputation for fitting bikes and have them take a look at your position.

    Hope this is some help

  10. #10
    BS the DC
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    I'm with Merlinator. The knots you are describing sound like the PSIS, a boney prominance on the pelvis. These points are used to evaluate pelvic alignment. They are often sore with sacroliac dysfunction.

    I assume you've been stretching. One you may have missed is the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings put a lot of tension in the low back, especially when cycling.

    If stretching doesn't work then go see a chiropractor. This is the type of problem we see all day, every day. My first thought was some type of biomechanical imbalance: leg length inequality, scoliosis, sacroiliac dysfunction, etc.
    "The team wasn't just riders. It was the mechanics, masseurs, chefs, soigneurs, and doctors. But the most important man on the team may have been the chiropractor."

    - Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts

  11. #11
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    Talking

    Thanks everyone. There's some good advice to be had here, and some really good points were brought up. Some really struck a chord. I've long suspected that my left leg, number one, is the dominant worker, and number two, may be longer or shorter than my right leg. I'm going to keep on with the stretching and core work and watch for some things that you guys have pointed out. I may consult a doctor after that. Be safe!

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