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Lower Back Muscle Ache

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Joined: 16 May 2010
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:26 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Lower Back Muscle Ache Reply with quote

After about 40 mins of riding my mtb hard, my lower back (lumbar region) begins to ache. I continue on to finish my 1hr-1hr 20 min ride, but struggle. Is there any particular excersie I might do to eliminate this problem?
Thanks for your time-Trey
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1396
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:55 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


Check your saddle position. If it has slid back in the rales you may be over reaching for your back leading to the lower back pain. This has happened to me a few times when I have been racing and hammering hard. Going into the second half of the race, the low back was rebelling greatly. When I checked the seat position it had slid back on me.

When you set up the seat position have a friend help you. First, adjust your saddle height so that you have about a 10 degree bend in your leg when you are clipped into the pedals with pedal at bottom dead center and you are sitting square in the saddle. You don't want the leg in full locked extension, just with a slight bend to the knee. Second, take a plumb bob or make your own with a fishing weight or a heavy bolt tied to a string and sit squarely in the saddle of the bike with the pedals horizontal to the ground. Take the plumb line and hold the string to the tibial tuberosity, that is, the bump that protrudes just below the knee, on the forward leg and allow the plumb weight to hang below the pedal. Adjust the fore-aft position of the saddle so that the plumb line crosses the middle of the pedal axel. Third, look at your stem height and length. You should have the stem at a length and a height that does not have you over reaching to the handle bars. Young, lithe Cat 1 riders and Pros can have a long low reach and go full bore without having to see the chiropractor after racing. Older riders or less conditioned riders, have a harder time maintaining that long, low reach. Most mountain bikes are spec’d with stems that are too long and low because the Madison 5th Ave hype is to sell what “Famous Name Sponsored Racer” is riding even though “FNSR” is super human and not a mere mortal like the masses who are buying & riding the “Famous Name Brand” mountain bike. I found the 160mm -10 degree rise stem that came on my “FNB” large frame bike destroyed my lower back. Switching to a shorter and taller stem 120mm long with a +10 degree rise made a world of difference for my back. This will take some experimentation on your part. Work with a shop that is willing to allow you to try different sized stems.

Do add some daily stretching exercises to your program. I recommend the excellent book “Stretching” by Bob & Jean Anderson . It is an easy read with excellent illustrations and sport specific stretching exercises that you can do. Don’t just do the back exercises, only but do the lower leg and upper extremity stretching exercises.
Also, add abdominal crunches on daily basis to help strengthen your abdominal muscles. These are not sit ups but half sit ups. Lay on your back with the feet flat on the floor and knees bent about half way. Then with your arms folded across your chest, sit up half way and hold it for a 10 second count and repeat for 10 to 15 reps twice a day. You can also do some back strengthening exercises where you lay on a mattress on your abdomen with your torso hanging over the mattress, bend down at the waste and then slowly raise your back to a straight position and hold if for a 5-10 second count, then slowly bend back down doing 5-10 reps. This is and exercise best done with someone holding your legs to help counter balance your upper torso weight. Do you stretching exercises before and after the workouts to help increase your limberness.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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Joined: 16 May 2010
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:16 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Dr. Nolan. I appreciate your time and interest in the sport.
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