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Changing rider position to help lower back pain?

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Changing rider position to help lower back pain?

Old 04-05-19, 10:44 AM
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rickrob 
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Changing rider position to help lower back pain?

A friend is having back issues and would like me to modify her road bike. We rode a century last year and her back was screaming after 60 miles.
The pain is at the right butt/hip from a pinched nerve. She was told she needs to sit up straighter.

The bike is an older Jamis Ventura 9 speed with Shimano 105 STI brifters. The bars have already been raised and it there are a bunch of spacers on it already.





I'm not sure what to do with this bike, with all the spacers that are already there-- and the stem already has a good rise. I was thinking the drops should be replaced with flat bars that have a rise, which means the brifters would need replacing as well. These Fairdale bars have a 50mm rise and also sweep back as well The bikes a 3 x 9 so I think could use these Alivio shifters.
Any other recommendations to change the rider position?

Thanks



Last edited by rickrob; 04-05-19 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 04-05-19, 11:35 AM
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Is the pinched nerve a chronic condition? If it is just an occasional thing with no rhyme or reason for the cause other than circumstantial, then I'd be suspect of the advise to sit up more. That will put more weight on the butt which will feel worse toward the end of long rides.

If it is a chronic condition, the maybe it's time to consider a recumbent which will allow for more body contact points to give more support that you can't get on other type bikes. I don't ride them, but I can see there may be a day when I'll have to.
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Old 04-05-19, 11:45 AM
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I'll start by saying if that person is your friend, don't let them ride that bike with all those spacers again. Even if it has an aluminum steerer tube that's too many spacers and too much leverage. I know this is the internet and I'm just a guy on it.......and I know you're going to get 50 people to post they currently have twice the amount of spacers on their bike that they've ridden around the world. But, that ^^^^ is begging for trouble.

There are thousands of virtually new bikes on CL that would fit better for pennies on the dollar.
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Old 04-05-19, 12:03 PM
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She was told she needs to sit up straighter.
Told by whom? I'd recommend a professional fitting before changing ANYTHING.

FWIW, I also have lower back issues and have found that a LOWER handlebar position (4-5" below the saddle), with a long reach helps. I'M NOT RECOMMENDING THIS, just saying there's no "one size fits all" solution.

SP
OC, OR
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Old 04-05-19, 12:23 PM
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Question Reach too far?

2 parts .. add an angle adjustable stem and a suspension seatpost....
lower bars might need doing more pushups to strengthen the upper body support..

, and it sounds like 60 mile days are her limit. only sign up for 100 Km rides..

I'm using Trekking bars on a couple bikes ....

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-05-19 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 04-05-19, 12:27 PM
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An observation and thought. It looks like that seat is tilted up quite a bit. This would tend to rotate your frines's hips back, meaning more bend forward down low. Could she ride with a more level and a more forward rotation to her hips and perhaps remove the pinch on her nerves? This would be easy to try and cost nothing.

A $40-60 experiment would be to get a 2-bolt seatpost where your friend could go for rides and systematically play with seat tilt. (One-bolt posts and you lose all former reference as soon as you loosen the bolt. 2-bolt and you can loosen the rear bolt a lot, tweak the front bolt exactly say 1/4 turn and re-tighten the rear. Don't like it? You can go back exactly to where you started.)

I agree on the too many spacers under the stem, but play with the seat before going off and spending big bucks.

Ben
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Old 04-05-19, 12:38 PM
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I needed to add spacers and a stem raiser..



So if you want to try a lower bar , just move a spacer from under to over the threadless stem ,

Don't be in a hurry to saw off the steerer, it will not grow back..






....
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Old 04-05-19, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rando_couche View Post
Told by whom? I'd recommend a professional fitting before changing ANYTHING.

FWIW, I also have lower back issues and have found that a LOWER handlebar position (4-5" below the saddle), with a long reach helps. I'M NOT RECOMMENDING THIS, just saying there's no "one size fits all" solution.

SP
OC, OR
Her doctors told her sit up straighter.
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Old 04-05-19, 02:24 PM
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Do you have an actual diagnosis?

Here are some notes about cycling and Sciatica.

Cycling and Sciatica - Cycling West - Cycling Utah
https://www.livestrong.com/article/2...atica-cycling/
https://www.ilovebicycling.com/avoid...-while-riding/

There are, in fact, suggestions that a more upright position may be helpful.

Both articles also mention the SEAT & sitbones.

Also check saddle height and fit.

In fact, that looks like a basic Men's seat.

Look at a few Women's specific seats. I believe there are ways to actually measure the sit bones, both at home, as well as in a shop. But, I'd expect perhaps a little wider seat.
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Old 04-05-19, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Do you have an actual diagnosis?

Here are some notes about cycling and Sciatica.

Cycling and Sciatica - Cycling West - Cycling Utah
https://www.livestrong.com/article/2...atica-cycling/
https://www.ilovebicycling.com/avoid...-while-riding/

There are, in fact, suggestions that a more upright position may be helpful.

Both articles also mention the SEAT & sitbones.

Also check saddle height and fit.

In fact, that looks like a basic Men's seat.

Look at a few Women's specific seats. I believe there are ways to actually measure the sit bones, both at home, as well as in a shop. But, I'd expect perhaps a little wider seat.
Thanks, I will read those articles. What she told me was that she had X-Rays and one of her disks is "tilted" and the next one is closing in on it and pinching a nerve.
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Old 04-05-19, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by rickrob View Post
Thanks, I will read those articles. What she told me was that she had X-Rays and one of her disks is "tilted" and the next one is closing in on it and pinching a nerve.
I think some of the sciatic impingement issues I mentioned were lower.

You're discussing spinal issues.

I'd still look at a good seat, and perhaps a suspension seatpost to reduce impact.

https://triathlonmagazine.ca/feature...y-and-cycling/

Core Strength? Stretching?

I find that belts cause me pain. So, I stopped wearing them decades ago. But, perhaps also make sure that one has loose cycling clothes. That is the benefit of "bibs" is that they don't need an elastic waistband.

I'd also look at her sleeping. Find a way to sleep that opens up the bad disc, rather than closing it. Other posture changes?
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Old 04-05-19, 05:05 PM
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I've suffered most of my life with a sore back and along the way I've discovered a few things. Weight lifters, when lifting a weight from the floor, are told to keep the back straight and to look straight forward or up. When the back is bent, the space between the vertebrae pinches at one side while space opens at the other. When the space pinches on one side, great compression is created. If the compression is great enough as in lifting weights, the cushioning discs may actually rupture.

Cyclists also need to maintain a straight back and there are plenty of You-Tube videos showing what a straight back looks like. For myself. I try in visualize folding at the hip rather than bending at the waist. Think of a pocket knife folding. I would not bend at the waist to lift anything, even minor weight as that is near instant discomfort.

I find it especially interesting than in my search for better comfort on the bike, over several years, the handlebar has been lowered until it is now several cm below the saddle. This for an 80 yo man. Good luck in your search for comfort.
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Old 04-06-19, 06:37 PM
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Suspension seatpost? Is she heavy on the seat? Seems like if she’s sitting mostly upright and is heavy on the saddle she’ll experience a lot of spinal compression.

Maybe a suspension post or sprung saddle (Brooks Flyer) or maybe even both. Specialized makes their “cobble gobbler” CG-R post which does an amazing job of eliminating road buzz and chatter.

Also, maybe max out her rear tire if that’s possible. Wide, low PSI tires can help too.


-Kedosto
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Old 04-07-19, 02:43 PM
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“Cobble gobbler” CG-R post , is for carbon aficionados..

Cane Creek Thudbusters l are aluminum and have a variety of densities of rubber springs
to adjust the post to the rider weight..

now 3 ST LT & ee Silk light for gravel competitors /... even less travel ..





...

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-07-19 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 04-11-19, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rickrob View Post
A friend is having back issues and would like me to modify her road bike. We rode a century last year and her back was screaming after 60 miles.
The pain is at the right butt/hip from a pinched nerve. She was told she needs to sit up straighter.

The bike is an older Jamis Ventura 9 speed with Shimano 105 STI brifters. The bars have already been raised and it there are a bunch of spacers on it already.

I'm not sure what to do with this bike, with all the spacers that are already there-- and the stem already has a good rise. I was thinking the drops should be replaced with flat bars that have a rise, which means the brifters would need replacing as well. These Fairdale bars have a 50mm rise and also sweep back as well The bikes a 3 x 9 so I think could use these Alivio shifters.
Any other recommendations to change the rider position?

Thanks


I've had the same back issues with drop bars for a long time. My suggestion would be try some Albastache bars from Rivendell. They offer a more upright position than drops. Unlike flat bars, they offer multiple hand positions, and they take road levers, so you wouldn't have to change shifters and brake levers. They are intended to run at or above saddle height, and it appears that the current stem and steerer length will allow that. Clamp size is 26.0.
https://www.rivbike.com/collections/...bar-26-0-16244

I've used these bars for longer rides and find them very comfortable, no back pain at all.
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Old 04-11-19, 11:29 AM
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Reach too far stretching her out. Causing a pinch at the hinge point. Effectivlely making the hips rotated too far back by means of reach.
Reach too high shifting weight to back, butt, sit bones, compressing her spine/lower back.
Missing core strength to hold it all together.

All solid suggestions.

Not mentioned yet: Stretching to incorporate & activate the necessary muscles in order to better share the load/stress/strain of the activity.

In short, I agree with the posters here. Lower, closer bars and exercises. Professional fit.

...Or, she could just buy a 3 speed Dutchie intended for 3 or 4 mile trips to the grocery store.
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Old 04-11-19, 12:23 PM
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Some observations...
  1. The uptilt of the saddle may discourage her from rotating her pelvis forward (imagine the pelvis is a bowl filled with water tilting forward so water spill forward) thus forcing a rotation elsewhere (the spine?) to compensate
  2. Women generally have longer legs and shorter torsos than men of the same height. So bikes designed for men often have a longer reach to the bars than women are comfortable with. That stems already pretty short but maybe a shorter one may help.
  3. Does she wear a helmet with a visor? That may force her to tilt head up to see. Try removing the visor.
  4. I wonder if there are any cyclist/doctors in your area that can help?
  5. She should get a custom bike fit and then compare the results to her current bike.
Best of luck to your friend.

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Old 04-11-19, 07:16 PM
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So she was told by her doctor to sit up straighter. I would have to respond that our family doctor is a long distance cyclist. I know of no other MD who is competent to prescribe bike position. Just sayin'. Seattle is lucky enough to have a facility which combines medical and cycling knowledge, Corpore Sano, but I know of no other.

That said, the idea is sound: we function best with straight spines, however that statement does not address spine angle. It is however well known in the cycling world that sitting up straight imposes high compression loads on a straight spine, and that's not a good idea. There's a good reason that the standard road position involves leaning forward at about a 45° or greater angle. The reason is that in that position the spine is less subject to compression loads. All the road cyclists I ride with know well that the best thing for their backs is to spend a lot of time on the bike, in the road position. The reason for the forward lean is not so much about aerodynamics as so many people believe - it's about improving comfort and the ability to operate the pedals.

The best road position is achieved by rolling the pelvis forward, off the ichial tuberosities and onto the pubic arch. The back should be approximately straight all the way from the top of the shorts to the back of the skull. This also gets rid of neck pain. This straight back should be at about a 45° angle to the horizontal See: https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...discovery.html

Reach to the bars is correct when, with hands on the hoods, the elbows bent, and the back straight, the upper arm makes a 90° angle with the straight torso. This way the arm functions as a strut which requires less shoulder effort to hold the position.

It may be that she'll find rotating her pelvis forward in this manner to be uncomfortable, in which case she needs a saddle with more of a cutout, something like a Selle Italia Diva.


This is what I'm talking about.:
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Old 04-13-19, 10:52 AM
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That right hand image a very good example of what a straight back looks like. It is also clear in those images that a straight back does not require the head to be tilted back as much as the right hand image. If you are having neck discomfort, take note.
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Old 04-16-19, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rickrob View Post
We rode a century last year and her back was screaming after 60 miles.
My first reaction was that 60 miles is probably pretty good for most of us. Doing that alone is an achievement. My second reaction was that there are plenty parts of me that don't feel right after a 60 mile ride either. With all that said, including some good advice mentioned above, I would start spending a little time each day doing some stretching exercises. I couldn't hurt.
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Old 04-27-19, 09:18 PM
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There are several things back disease does. Pain, weakness poor sleep etc
It also causes everyone to give you advice. Horrible advice. stuff you can't do . all the time. Neverending. Useless stuff.
Backs are all different
Find what doesn't hurt.
try stuff
then do it
If it hurts, don't do it
Many just stop listening to every body
When it gets better on its own, it will become manageable, even mostly go away, most of the time
It is mostly about the time it takes to heal.

Personally , I have a back that looks like a stack of crushed Coke cans
But I went to this magic healer who put on a magic salve
and I threw away my crutches , and I can crawl again
I hope she gets better

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Old 04-27-19, 10:33 PM
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I've had lower back, hip, and knee issues. The fix for the hip pain isn't so much a straighter back, it's opening up the hip angle. this can be done in several ways...a combination of fore-aft, seat angle/and seat post height. I've definitely set off sciatica attacks by riding with my hip angle too narrow. It's the old hip bone connected to the thigh bone song. You can't just change one thing without it impacting everything else. A posture with more lean will open up the spaces between the discs, a straighter back will decrease the space and potentially be more jarring. If you change the reach to put the back up higher, that will change other measurements. I highly recommend that you get a good bike fitter to first make sure she is sitting in a way that optimizes her hip angle and balances her core as well as possible. THEN, and only then, should you determine what a comfortable reach would be and what adjustments can or should be made. It is a very complicated process, particularly when on has some physical issues already, and a good fit will be worth every penny. Make sure the fitter gives you a re-check about a month out to make final adjustments. FWIW, I had my seat off about 1.5cm and created a severe problem with one knee over such a tiny difference; it actually took over a year to resolve the damage. Now I am extremely careful to make sure I follow my measurements and check my positions regularly.
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Old 04-27-19, 10:36 PM
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I think she needs a taller frame. With that seat height, it's tough to get the hands high enough for an upright position. A taller frame but not a longer top tube.

Every spinal injury is unique. Conventional bike fit guidelines are not applicable.
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Old 04-28-19, 05:43 AM
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Trying to make sitting on a bike more like sitting in a chair results in failure every time it's tried, it just puts more pressure on the butt and back, less pressure on the hands, and closes up the chest. It's counter-intuitive, but stretching out the back with a longer lower stem opens up the chest, gets weight distribution on front and rear wheels more even, increases hand pressure, and takes the pressure off the discs in your lower back so they can elongate a bit and stop compressing with every pedal stroke.

Any position change that puts more weight on the rear wheel is bad news all-around, especially for the back, or at least that's been my experience. Going down the road of curing back pain by sitting more and more upright, which requires bigger and softer seats never really seems to succeed, unless the goal is some temporary comfort on very short rides. Diamond frames are designed to perform best and be most comfortable when the weight distribution is not 95% on the rear wheel.

Last edited by Lemond1985; 04-28-19 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 05-02-19, 05:25 AM
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This season I to was experiencing lower back pain that was not there last year. So before yesterday's ride I moved my saddle forward about 1/2". Absolutely no pain after a nice 38 mile ride!
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