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Low back health and track cycling

Old 02-17-20, 07:15 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
Well, we'll see what happens, I guess. At the moment, I'm just doing gym work and pretty much no-load roller stuff as there's snow on the track here now. Feeling very good at the moment. I've adjusted my stretch routine as above, am doing the rehab mobility and core stability stuff as above, and have moved to sumo from conventional deadlift which is huge. I'm also squatting to a box to check depth. I am not going as deep as I used to, but I'm going gradually deeper as my hip flexibility improves.

it will be interesting to see how this changes with the bike work that will start in a month or so. My bike work is pretty minimal though- I do not do any road miles really, and all my track workouts are very focussed and low repetition. Maybe it will be ok.
Iím talking about off the bike 100%, not minimal bike work.

Riding rollers could be like ďpicking at the scabĒ keeping the wound from healing.
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Old 02-17-20, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Iím talking about off the bike 100%, not minimal bike work.

Riding rollers could be like ďpicking at the scabĒ keeping the wound from healing.
Well Iím not really interested in doing that since basically Iím a bike rider who lifts weight to go faster.
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Old 02-17-20, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
Well Iím not really interested in doing that since basically Iím a bike rider who lifts weight to go faster.
Yeah. I expected that answer. I just think thatís the only way to determine if itís cycling, in general, thatís contributing to or causing the pain.

In my case (n=1), cycling IS the problem. As much as I hate to say that. Iíve been riding bikes since my earliest memories. When I ride upright, Iím fine. When I bend over (even moderately), thatís when soreness starts.

It had even happened since I stopped riding/racing. After months of no cycling of any sort, Iíll hop on the spin bike for an easy 30-60 minutes for basic cardio work in the home, and BAM...sore back.
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Old 02-17-20, 10:11 PM
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This time of year might be the best time for an experiment like this since you are only using rollers for form and maybe cardio. Maybe try swimming, jogging, walking, hiking, or some other form of cardio that's not cycling and see if the pain goes away.

I would suggest rowing, but that might be trading one problem for another when it comes to the back.
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Old 02-18-20, 02:16 PM
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Baby Puke , I just rode my spin bike and noticed that I have my bars adjusted high as hell. Like damn near Beach Cruiser height. My back is in a very comfortable position and I'm still getting the cardio work that I'm looking for.

Maybe you can find a short/high stem and some shallow bars for your bike during this period when you are just on rollers.
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Old 02-19-20, 08:53 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Baby Puke , I just rode my spin bike and noticed that I have my bars adjusted high as hell. Like damn near Beach Cruiser height. My back is in a very comfortable position and I'm still getting the cardio work that I'm looking for.

Maybe you can find a short/high stem and some shallow bars for your bike during this period when you are just on rollers.
Well, I've found a position that is faster, so I'm loath to give that up at the moment. I'm gonna forge ahead armed with new knowledge and some new movements and lifts and see how it works out. Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old 02-20-20, 02:57 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
Well, I've found a position that is faster, so I'm loath to give that up at the moment. I'm gonna forge ahead armed with new knowledge and some new movements and lifts and see how it works out. Thanks for your suggestions!
Why not raise the position now then lower it gradually when the season gets going? No need in suffering all year long.

When talking with Mr. Tiemeyer, he told me how many of his athletes would ride relatively high positions early in the season then gradually lower their bars as the season and their flexibility progressed.

With that in mind, I'm I'd imagine your road bike position is significantly higher than that of your track bike.
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Old 02-20-20, 09:45 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Why not raise the position now then lower it gradually when the season gets going? No need in suffering all year long.

When talking with Mr. Tiemeyer, he told me how many of his athletes would ride relatively high positions early in the season then gradually lower their bars as the season and their flexibility progressed.

With that in mind, I'm I'd imagine your road bike position is significantly higher than that of your track bike.
Hmm. At the moment I don't really see the need to do this. For just roller work, at least, I am not "suffering" from my current position. This could change when I start doing high loads on the bike, and in that case I would consider what you're suggesting here. However, if I can stay in this position year round it would seem preferable to me than adjusting and adapting multiple times a season. Again, I'll take it as it comes and adjust as necessary.

And yeah, my road bike position is a bit higher, but I don't do any training on the road bike. I use it for the very occasional coffee ride with non-racer friends (literally 2-3 times a year) and for transportation to and from work when the weather is reasonable. Anything "real" is done on the track bike either on the track or on the erg.
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Old 04-10-20, 10:57 AM
  #34  
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As somebody with a really bad back, I'll add perspective.

#1 : As an older guy (your blog puts you at 51yo) your back has gone through a lot. There is a chance that the spine has degraded -- through the natural loss of bone mass, arthritis, stenosis, degenerative diseases (Spondylosis) and the aggravations of age on congenital defects. Therefore before you get into the exercise of the day, it pays to have your spine scanned. X-Ray, CAT, MRI are the scans shown in order of increased cost and clarity.

I was given exercises for years with limited results. Then I walked into the office of a sports orthopedic surgeon who took one look at me and ordered a scan. I was born with 6 defects in my lumbar region. I had an extra lumbar vertebrae. All of the lumbar vertebrae were small, which created two problems: the inside of vertebrae had narrowed with aging causing a stenosis that was pinching my spinal cord and weakening leg strength, and the small size of the bones caused massive compression on the discs when I was squatting crazy-heavy weight. Eventually I blew two discs, had surgery, and the back hasn't been the same since.

And just because I had that surgery, it doesn't mean the back quit aging. Recent CAT scans have revealed spondylosis, arthritis and foraminal stenosis. It was only after my most recent scan that my current sports ortho doc gave me exercises. At age 50 and beyond a scan is helpful.

One more thing. I just noticed this year, and it goes back to the dream time and my previous racing: spend more time in little gears early in the season. Back in the day the maxim was 1,000 miles before you ever pedaled bigger than a 70" gear, I'd get this lower back pain at around 20 miles. By about the 1,000 mile mark that pain would go away. And that was right about the time I started pushing the bigger gears. Fast forward to my re-entry to the sport and for the past two years my cancer had me forgoing that base work and I was having big back problems, including debilitating spasms. Because of COVID this year is a training year and I'm kicking it old school. Sure enough, that 20-mile pain came back. BUT, it was low stress and lower, early-season miles. Like in the article you posted, it was low-stress repetition and rest that allowed me to strengthen my back. Now, I'm just starting to push the bigger gears and I'm doing it with a lot less pain than the previous couple of years.

So, for me, lower gears early in the season, and higher-rep/lower-weight squats in the weight room. And since you have hit 50, get that back scanned.
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Old 04-10-20, 04:51 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by rickbuddy_72 View Post
So, for me, lower gears early in the season, and higher-rep/lower-weight squats in the weight room. And since you have hit 50, get that back scanned.
Much appreciated, Rickbuddy. I have been progressing well with a lot less pain on the stuff I discovered above, but I'll definitely keep this in mind.

However, I think my training in general is different that most riders in that I basically don't do any road training. I mean, I don't even ride 20 miles except for an extremely rare low-key coffee ride. My training is gym, plyo, rollers, erg, or sprint track workouts, none of which have me do efforts for longer than 45 seconds. Not sure exactly how this bears on your comment, but I basically do not do endurance-length training, and I certainly do not spend long periods of time slogging huge gears.

Last edited by Baby Puke; 04-10-20 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 01-12-21, 09:35 AM
  #36  
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Update:

I have a decent home gym with lots of options (squat rack, treadmill, deadlift platform, spin bike, bench press) and stopped cycling altogether (spin bike or on trails) and my constant back pain disappeared. For the second time since I stopped training/racing, I started working out on the spin bike, and for the second time my back started hurting again.

I really enjoy spinning as it's kind of a mindless workout where I can browse on my phone or watch a movie and get cardio in. I can't really do that on a treadmill as easily.

So, yeah, it's the bike that's causing my back pain. I'm going to see if I can raise the bars even higher such that I can sit completely upright and see if that solves the problem.

No joke, going for a vertical back like this:

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Old 01-15-21, 09:11 PM
  #37  
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Bummer. I'm sorry to hear this, Carleton.
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Old 02-03-21, 07:12 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Update:

I have a decent home gym with lots of options (squat rack, treadmill, deadlift platform, spin bike, bench press) and stopped cycling altogether (spin bike or on trails) and my constant back pain disappeared. For the second time since I stopped training/racing, I started working out on the spin bike, and for the second time my back started hurting again.

I really enjoy spinning as it's kind of a mindless workout where I can browse on my phone or watch a movie and get cardio in. I can't really do that on a treadmill as easily.

So, yeah, it's the bike that's causing my back pain. I'm going to see if I can raise the bars even higher such that I can sit completely upright and see if that solves the problem.

No joke, going for a vertical back like this:

I'm with you man :/
Never, in a million years if you had told me when I bought my Look Ergostem that it would ever be pointing towards the sky would I have believed you. And yet... here we are.

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Old 02-03-21, 12:19 PM
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I seldom visit this forum but the title of this thread interested me, so here I am and I read the whole article. I agree with most of it and thus disagree with some of it.

I'm 75 and started riding again at 50. I've been doing strength work in the gym for over 20 of those years, mostly heavy work to near failure. Mostly but not all. I never work my back to near failure, though I have worked it hard. I have the usual older person's spine, spinal stenosis, thin disks, arthritic facets. This is normal. What's not normal is that I can still do what I do, ride hard for long distances and lift heavy. So that's my experience.

I do not strength train for the hours that a track cyclist does, especially sprinters. I'm an endurance road rider. This past summer, I had an episode of sciatica on my right side. It was excruciating as is normal, to the point that I could hardly walk The why of the sciatica was that I had a really bad saddle sore, which was misdiagnosed and maltreated, to the extent that while thie treatment happened in May, I'm still fighting it. This injury took me off my bike for months. The bicycle is, besides being the best machine ever invented for extracting energy from the human body, the best back exercise there is. A big THAT IS, if you bend your lower back right at the top of your shorts and then keep it as straight as possible all the way to your neck. The guys in the top photo are like "oh my god, do not do that!" When one squats or deadlifts, a helper should be able to put a straight edge on your back and have it touch your lumbar spine, all the way up your back and the back of your head. It's important to hold your spine in column when under load.

That said, I disagree about spinal flexion and stretching. Google for the McKenzie Method. After I contracted the dreaded sciatica, I started doing McKenzie stretches, various rotating stretches (google sciatica stretches), all of which helped. What helped the most was walking with an exaggerated rolling pelvic motion. The hurt like the very devil for the first mile, but then got better. I no longer have any sciatic pain or sore or tight back muscles. Why? Because I'm back on my bike 5 or so days/week. I'm again strength training and stretching. And also still doing a little walking.

What have I learned? I've learned that high rep mild strain is the best thing for spine health, i.e. bike riding with a straight back using a position and pedal stroke which engages the entire posterior chain, all the way to the shoulder blades. This has to be coupled with the ability to bend the back without pushing any tendon or muscle into the high strain area, which of course means you have to stretch to avoid same. I don't mean extreme stretching, just able to put your knuckles on the floor barefoot. Your spine likes movement. It likes to be loose and yet has to have the muscular strength to hold it in column when under load. It's not any one thing and it's complicated.

https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...discovery.html
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Old 02-03-21, 12:38 PM
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Look at the backs of the winners in these Keirins:
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Old 02-03-21, 04:02 PM
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Most back problems, particularly the lower back is a result of a weak core and or not engaging core when doing heavy lifts/ sprints. If you look at people who get back injuries deadlifting/squatting for example, they are either lifting too heavy for their ability or using poor form and not engaging their core (then they blame the lift for causing the injury). Cycling is obviously leg dominant so it is very easy for your core to fall behind if you don't do any specific and frequent training to keep it strong.

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Old 02-04-21, 06:34 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Look at the backs of the winners in these Keirins:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDPAuMe-6RI
What is it that you want us to take note of?
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Old 02-04-21, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
What is it that you want us to take note of?
Their shape in profile compared to the 2 photos of track cyclists at the top of this thread. They bend a little under extreme strain, but mostly hold their backs in column. The photo on the left particularly - what's going on with his spine?
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Old 02-04-21, 10:05 PM
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Pretty sure that's Matt Glaetzer in the top photo, who is the Aussie winning the 1st heat in your video.
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Old 02-05-21, 08:08 AM
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indeed... the aero arms race doesn't care about back health. If there is a tangible gain someone can achieve by contorting like Glaetzer, then either others will follow suit, produce enough more power to make up for the aero disadvantage, or be passed by the march of time by those willing.
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Old 02-09-21, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Update:

I have a decent home gym with lots of options (squat rack, treadmill, deadlift platform, spin bike, bench press) and stopped cycling altogether (spin bike or on trails) and my constant back pain disappeared. For the second time since I stopped training/racing, I started working out on the spin bike, and for the second time my back started hurting again.

I really enjoy spinning as it's kind of a mindless workout where I can browse on my phone or watch a movie and get cardio in. I can't really do that on a treadmill as easily.

So, yeah, it's the bike that's causing my back pain. I'm going to see if I can raise the bars even higher such that I can sit completely upright and see if that solves the problem.

No joke, going for a vertical back like this:


sorry to hear you going through all that.

i have been doing rowing on a Concept2 with emphasis on keeping my back erect (also building a leg back up fromm a knee replacement) - seems to be working on keeping my back strong while giving anaerobic benefit at the same time

maybe something to try?
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Old 02-10-21, 01:04 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
sorry to hear you going through all that.

i have been doing rowing on a Concept2 with emphasis on keeping my back erect (also building a leg back up fromm a knee replacement) - seems to be working on keeping my back strong while giving anaerobic benefit at the same time

maybe something to try?
Thanks. I tried rowing using a Waterrower and, unfortunately, I got bored with it. Maybe I should try again.
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Old 02-10-21, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Thanks. I tried rowing using a Waterrower and, unfortunately, I got bored with it. Maybe I should try again.

yes - there are no amount of encouraging words out there that make an hour on a rower just ďfly byĒ.

i rely heavily on Netflix. Im recovering from a november total knee replacement and the scissor action of the legs vs spinning on the bike hits the quads from a different therapeutic angle.

i have just noticed the benefit to my back - mostly the lumbar region as a side benefit . The GF likes the better bicep tone as well
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