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lower back pain after 90min of riding, how to get rid of it/improve?

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lower back pain after 90min of riding, how to get rid of it/improve?

Old 05-25-22, 08:38 AM
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lower back pain after 90min of riding, how to get rid of it/improve?

Hey ! After ˜90mins of constant riding (like a climb for example), i can feel some pain in lower back.
How to get rid of it? is it a problem with not stretching some parts of your body? or with muscle weakness? and which ones? and how to make them stronger (which exercises)
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Old 05-25-22, 08:52 AM
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I would not be surprised if you have fit, set up issues. IMO, a forum such as this is not among the better places to find suggestions and answers to your issue. There are just too many factors for anyone to give sound, helpful advice from the description in your post. I have chronic spinal issues, including 4 surgeries. Also, at 70 years of age, the flexibility and strength have declined quite a bit. I will say that, for me, stopping occasionally just for a minute or two, standing out of the saddle for short periods, changing hand positions while on the bike, and light stretching help my considerably. Comfort is priority number two, with just getting on a bike and riding being number one.
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Old 05-25-22, 08:57 AM
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Deadlifts, followed by deadlifts in a resistance program focused on deadlifts.
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Old 05-25-22, 09:34 AM
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Good fit - yes. Seat in the proper place relative to the bottom bracket. Handlebars to get the proper lean forward and comfortable arm bend, and for me, a stretched and elongated back. So I like my handlebars further forward and not especially low. I have long arms so my stems are very long.

I started the long stem journey when I was having real back pain and anaerobic pain in my torso on hard climbs on my commuter. It was a touring frame with a short top tube. I had a custom, very long horizontal stem made. One of my first rides was a very hilly 70 miler. No back pain at all! Hills were seriously hard but no pains that shouldn't be there.

I now compare my position on the bike as being like a cat. I'm at my best stretched like that cat when it stretches impossibly long. Yes, I'm exaggerating but you get the idea. I want my vertebrae stretched, not compressed, especially on long hills.
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Old 05-25-22, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
Hey ! After ˜90mins of constant riding (like a climb for example), i can feel some pain in lower back.
How to get rid of it? is it a problem with not stretching some parts of your body? or with muscle weakness? and which ones? and how to make them stronger (which exercises)
Could be pedal technique. Push hard and do not pull up at all consciously. Pulling up puts a lot of stress on the relatively weak and easily fatigued Psoas muscles and you feel it in the lower back.
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Old 05-25-22, 10:21 AM
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Oh, the trick I learned from a swim coach that does wonders for oxygen uptake. Exhale! Exhale long and deeply. Don't sweat the inhale.

I was back at my big university in my early 30s for 2 years. Figured while I was there I should take beginning swimming and learn proper freestyle. Instructor was a grad student exercise physiologist. Of course, breath is a huge issue for this stroke where you have a very short window with your nose and mouth out of the water. She told us to exhale the entire rest of the time so our lungs were completely empty when we came up; that even if we only got a 1/4 breath of inhale (say a wave slapped us in the face) we were far better off than if we still had 1/2 or 1/4 of a lungful of old air left. That doesn't sound logical but she emphasized our most numerous and best oxygen receptors are at the very bottom of our lungs and exactly where the air we don't exhale stays. That carbon dioxide heavy air shields the receptors from that inhale - unless we worked to exhale it. In fact, I believe the carbon dioxide creates a strong bond than the oxygen so purging it is critical.

The bike is no different except that now we have no limit (except lung capacity) on how much new air we inhale but if we haven't exhaled all the old, we cannot use a lot of that fresh stuff. When I find my breath is coming up short, I try to remember - exhale! Long and deep. Every time I remember, I can feel the oxygen flooding my body. My speed picks up. I wish I'd know that 7 years before when I raced! And oxygen to the muscles in the torso that can be fairly locked in place as opposed to our constantly moving leg muscles - feels wonderful!
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Old 05-25-22, 10:42 AM
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IME, cycling is the best back exercise there is. That said, position is important. Roll your pelvis forward and flatten your lower back. That might help. Try not pushing forward on the pedal as it goes over the top. That helps some people but not others. Do pull back on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke when climbing. That does engage the back muscles, but they have to get stronger anyway. Basically try riding more, especially climbs. A 90 minute climb is a long climb. That's gonna hurt. One can get stronger more efficiently by going hard on multiple shorter climbs, say 10--15', if those are available.

Other than that, yes, stretching is always good. So there are many different types of lower back weakness. Some are helped by squats, deadlifts, and stiff legged deadlifts Good tutorial on that last one is here:

One can address a different area of weakness with these tests and exercises:

I do all the above and it all helps, except that I do push forward going over the top, no problem there.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:13 AM
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Have you recently increased the amount of time you spend cycling (e.g., because you didn't ride much during the winter)?

If yes, did you ride a lot last spring/summer/fall with no back problems?

If yes, you can probably safely ignore all the other well-meaning advice above. The cure is to gradual increase the amount of time for each ride until you're back where you were last year.

My credentials: 70-year-old ex-racer who started racing in 1964. Still do mainly training-effort rides. Never stretched, never lifted weights, never worked on my "core," etc. By the time I'm up to doing 16 hours of riding per week, any minor discomfort I experience during the transition to warm weather has mostly disappeared.

Just ride.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:32 AM
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I would look first at fit. I find when my saddle is too far back it manifests itself in the lower back and/or my left hip. Also, I sometimes see riders whose saddles are CLEARLY too high, and you can see their hips rocking side-to-side and watch their lower back muscles having to do all that work. I don't do any of the stretches or exercises suggested above - though I really should - and I just did a 5 hour ride on Sunday with no lower back pain at all, despite spending some miles in the drops. Fix your fit FIRST.

I see so many threads where riders complain about various pains, discomforts, etc. and they're often given advice about core exercises or padded gloves, or padded shorts, but I think most of these issues should be addressed with bike fit FIRST.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:37 AM
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79pmooney is absolutely correct with the breathing. It is amazing how much your style of breathing affects not only performance, but comfort level. Losing the mental and muscle tenseness that comes with stressing yourself physically is a huge factor in comfort on a bike. You can do mental, breathing exercises to help with making this a natural thing to do.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:38 AM
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Another vote for fit.
A cm here and a few mm there.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:42 AM
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Could be a lot of things: tight hamstrings, saddle angle, cleat positioning, saddle to bar drop, biomechanics...

Might be worth seeing a bike fitter. Not having to go through the trial and error of self experimentation could save you some money in the long run as well. You *might* also find that you have more power and/or efficiency with even the slightest of adjustments.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I sometimes see riders whose saddles are CLEARLY too high, and you can see their hips rocking side-to-side and watch their lower back muscles having to do all that work.
Totally agree with this... not to mention increased sit bone pressure as the leg rotates through the bottom of each stroke, which brings with it a whole host of alignment issues.
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Old 05-25-22, 06:36 PM
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Pay a lot of money to the most revered bike fitter you can find. Go back to fine tune if needed.
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Old 05-26-22, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
Hey ! After ˜90mins of constant riding (like a climb for example), i can feel some pain in lower back.
How to get rid of it? is it a problem with not stretching some parts of your body? or with muscle weakness? and which ones? and how to make them stronger (which exercises)
Look into a pro bike fit. Besides that, lunge-type hip flexor stretches. But first the bike fit--research the fitter--did he or she just watch a few youtube videos and put up a website? Or is the person multi-certified on pro fitting with happy riders' testimonies?
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Old 05-26-22, 02:41 AM
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Ok, so i didn't add more info before.
-yes i had a bike fit last year, i believe good, person is known in my city and recommended (for sure my saddle is not too high or too far back)
-i ride all the time, maybe a bit less in winter. this year: 4kkm distance, 65km elevation)
-before, some discomfort could appear earlier, so at the end looks like body gets stronger.
-i doubt i pull my pedals on such long climbs (i try to keep it at 80%FTP)
-mine standard (weekdays) rides are shorter - 2-3h, with 10-20min climbs.

I belive it's connected with hip flexors (Psoas?) - I stretch them (sitting work, sitting on a bike, bad bad bad ) - maybe not enough?
that's why I ask about other muscles, which i could train/make stronger to support my body.
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Old 05-26-22, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC View Post
Another vote for fit.
A cm here and a few mm there.
Playing devil's advocate here, the fitter, stronger and more flexible you become, the less "micro-fitting" you require.
So I would focus more on gaining core strength and mobility.
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Old 05-26-22, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Playing devil's advocate here, the fitter, stronger and more flexible you become, the less "micro-fitting" you require.
Makes a lot of sense, and less micro fitting sounds like another benefit to (my) ongoing fitter/stronger work.
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Old 05-26-22, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC View Post
Makes a lot of sense, and less micro fitting sounds like another benefit to (my) ongoing fitter/stronger work.
Yeah I think it's just common sense. There was a discussion on the TrainerRoad podcast last year where this very point came up. Some guy was having trouble getting their bike fit dialled in (usual aches and pains) and one of the coaches mentioned that a lot of guys would be a lot less sensitive to minor fit variations if they focused more on their own mobility and strength limitations. Lower back pain is often associated with lack of core strength and flexibility.

Not to say bike fit should be ignored, but it shouldn't need to be hyper sensitive - at least in relation to basic comfort. Obviously if your fit was horrendous it would cause problems anyway, but otherwise shouldn't be a problem with a half-reasonable fit. Having put in the effort to do a regular (and varied) core fitness program I find that I can hop on pretty much any bike with the saddle set in my ball-park height range and ride without falling apart! The longer the ride, the more critical bike fit tends to become, but 90 mins is not that long really. For me it's 5 hours into a ride when I start to notice if there are any fit issues. It's all about conditioning.
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Old 05-26-22, 05:26 AM
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Just to add that I wouldn't go repetitively targeting any very specific muscles, otherwise you may end up with a muscle imbalance which could potentially make the problem even worse. Better to follow a general core strength program and mix up the routines. There are hundreds of muscles that need to be conditioned. I find kettle bell routines pretty effective as they tend to target large groups of muscles in a chain. Also the usual planks, back extensions, squats, lunges etc I find useful (not just for biking, but just general everyday mobility).
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Old 05-26-22, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
Ok, so i didn't add more info before.
-yes i had a bike fit last year, i believe good, person is known in my city and recommended (for sure my saddle is not too high or too far back)
-i ride all the time, maybe a bit less in winter. this year: 4kkm distance, 65km elevation)
-before, some discomfort could appear earlier, so at the end looks like body gets stronger.
-i doubt i pull my pedals on such long climbs (i try to keep it at 80%FTP)
-mine standard (weekdays) rides are shorter - 2-3h, with 10-20min climbs.

I belive it's connected with hip flexors (Psoas?) - I stretch them (sitting work, sitting on a bike, bad bad bad ) - maybe not enough?
that's why I ask about other muscles, which i could train/make stronger to support my body.
Yes.

Your options since you think you have a good fit

1. Stretch and strengthen
2. Lower saddle height
3. Decrease bar reach and increase bar height (reduce drop)
4. Ride more
5. Rule 5

As an aside, I have never had lower back pain in over 40 years of riding long distance. Until this year. I fractured a bunch of bone least year including the left greater trochanter (bone from femur to hip). Post accident, my left hamstring would get very painful at tempo pace and my back would be sore after a couple hours ride. It miraculously went away after a long ride in the rain. My all leather saddle developed a huge dimple where the left sit bone hits it and the leather is a bit distorted suggested an anatomical change due to the accident. Saddle looks a bit odd now. I have ridden leather saddles like Brooks B17 or Berthoud for a long time and any indentations have always been symmetrical. Whether my issue is a longer left leg or disfunctional musculature due to the accident, I do not know. But, a really top fitter might have been able to diagnose it. Just because you saw the best fitter in town doesn't mean a second opinion with someone who specializes in leg length discrepancy might not be worthwhile. YMMV
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Old 05-26-22, 08:48 AM
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So my question is, on which part of my body to focus now? what to stretch? is it mainly because of short hip flexors (this I know), other specific stretches? (i try to stretch most of my body, but it's not regular routine :/ )
and about core strength? (also i know about muscle balance - not too excercise front or back for example, without sstrengthening the other side)
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Old 05-26-22, 09:30 AM
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I had that problem starting out. When the back starts cramping stop and stretch. Don't try and tough it out that will just make it worse. It did not take long to completely eliminate the problem. My stretch was to lay down on the sidewalk and bring my knees up to my chest, probably not the best but it worked for me.
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Old 05-27-22, 01:19 AM
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If you're expecting to climb for 90 minutes, tilt the nose of the saddle down and move it forward and adjust height if necessary. This adjustment is less comfortable on the flats....but you'll love it on climbs and your lower back will love it too.

Make sure you mark the saddle rails and seatpost before you make the adjustments because you'll likely restore the previous adjustments for riding in the flats.
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Old 05-27-22, 04:25 AM
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Also, don't think a more upright position will be more comfortable, the opposite is often the case. Too short and upright of a reach will cause lower back pain.

How do you feel in the drops? The drops should be comfortable, if not the most stable position on your bike. If not, again your reach and height could be off.

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