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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am relatively new to mountain biking with this only being my third year riding. The first year me and my friend would ride about 3 days a week if not more, and I really fell in love. Last year I rode much less and developed some back pain which sidelined me for awhile. I was told I had a bulging disc L3-4 creating numbness from my lower back down into knees. I was carefull to ice and stretch and avoid activities which would cause the issue to flareup (mtbing, golfing, etc.). Over the winter this issue seemed to subside and I thought all was well.

Well recently I have started riding again and the pain is coming back. I do not want to relive last season laying on the floor in pain so I changed up my bars for a more upright positions which seem to help a little.

So my question is does anybody else battle back issues and still ride, especially if the riding is what may be causing the issues? Any tips or tricks to alleviate some pain? I really do not wish to stop riding all together...
 

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GONE
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I've had back issues since Jr. High School and I am now in my late 40s. Up until a year or so ago, riding actually relieved my back issues since my body would super heat from the pushing the cranks and that would loosen me up nicely. My doctor has always warned me that riding could only aggravate my issues but it never did. As I age and arthritis sets into my back and hips, it seems that not even riding helps relieve the issue now. I can say that riding never made it worse, though. Everyone is different.

You should consider having your "bike fitted to you" in case you haven't already done so. I hope you find a remedy.
 

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I've got disk problems in my neck. Don't know if bike riding has anything to do with it, but it sucks. Causes numbness in my hands right now, but not pain. I will probably need surgery one of these days, which I will gladly do if it allows me to continue to do the things I love to do.
 

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o°<o NYC pebble jumper!
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For me I have both my neck and lower back 15* outward 4 herniated discs as well. I developed these in my teens from car accidents and sports related injuries. Now going into my 40s I ride whenever I get the chance, and I have the occasional hand numbness. Not from riding, but develop it when I am typing for a long time as well. Maybe carpal tunnel kicking in as well, but I will never let it stop me from riding my bike. (Cold weather will though)
 

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So my question is does anybody else battle back issues and still ride, especially if the riding is what may be causing the issues? Any tips or tricks to alleviate some pain? I really do not wish to stop riding all together...

I feel your pain, I've been living with a herniated lower back disc for many years now. Fortunately (so far) cycling is one of the few athletic endeavors my back can handle and when I'm on the bike it rarely bothers me much, which is a blessing because almost everything else does.

Maybe there is hope for you. For me having the bars a little lower than the seat and a little stretched out seems better than more upright.
 

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orthonormal
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I've had pretty bad issues with L5-S1 in the past. The first time was after being hit by a car riding to work in 2001. I ended up having microdiscectomy surgery later that year. The second time was two years later after a crash in a mountain bike race, same outcome. Leading up to and following the second surgery, I started on a training program that emphasized lumbar posture and core strength and have had no problems for the past 11 years.

Basically, I make sure to avoid the "tucked tail" posture on the bike. It still happens but I'm quick to correct it. Riding a singlespeed helps a lot because I find it easier to maintain good posture climbing in a standing position at a lower cadence. The harshness of riding a hardtail hasn't been a problem for me. I do ride a 6" travel geared FS bike as well but I find myself having to correct my posture much more often on long, seated climbs.

Another thing that has helped is strength training. I did a modified bodybuilding style routine for years while I was racing and that type of strength training was no help at all on the trail. Take a look at Simple and Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline. The "simple" workout takes very little time and has not only helped me ride pain free, it has helped me ride faster. I also read the blog posts at James Wilson's site. I've made use of some of his ideas but haven't followed his routines exactly.
 

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I'm 24 and have two bulging disks and a herniatated with a sciatic issue. All in my lower back. I couldn't ride my hard tail anymore so I dumped it for a full suspension. Has been good to me ever since! I just have to be careful of course.
 

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Air Pirate
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I have herniated L4 and T7 discs due to an automobile collision. I get pain of different types, sometimes due to activity and stresses on those areas, sometimes simply sleeping or stting in one position too long. I get both random pains that come and go quickly as well as episodes of pain and stiffness that lasts for a long time (weeks/months), so my cycling can be affected easily.

I have tried numerous things to alleviate any potential damage or pain from riding. If I do get pain that results from riding, ice is always my friend as well as some downtime from the bike. As far as equipment and riding styles, I have employed everything from full-suspension frames to suspension seatposts to real fat tires.

I ride both mountain and road. I discovered my back is mostly bothered when cycling by the high-frequency/low impact hits. Vibrations mostly, road buzz or trail judder. I started mountain biking in the 80's so I developed a light riding style (had to, only had full rigid rides!), where I look for the smoothest line and refrain from simply bashing over gnar (even if riding the full-suspension). I found my riding style kept me from experiencing pain from most low frequency/high impact hits as I use my body to absorb a lot of the movements, with this being done by the flexing of my joints (if my knees and elbows go out I am in trouble!). In those cases I usually stand up on the pedals and move my body around with the bike movement.

In cases where I am sitting on the saddle and spinning/mashing, then I feel a lot of the high-frequency/low impact hits (vibration) running through my backbone. I discovered the full-suspension frame really didn't help damp these hits, nor did suspension seatposts. I also tried a variety of saddle solutions, from elastomer or magnet suspended rails to flexing shells. I discovered an old fashioned Brooks B17 saddle had the best support and vibration dampening for these hits. The leather has an inherent flexibility at the same time it is rather solid. I find it moves with me better than the foam or gel filled saddles, so there is less impact and vibration. I have one on all my bikes except for the full-suspension. I also put myself into a more upright seating position on those saddles with higher stem/bar combos and a zero-offset microadjustable seatpost to accommodate getting the B17's rails in the right position.

Other adjustments I have made were switching to drop-bars on my off road bikes (multiple hand/body positions), using a steel frame instead of aluminum for my road bike, and riding fatter rubber with well thought out inflation. Keeping my tire inflation about 5 to 10 PSI off the high limit when on road/solid surfaces and as low as I can but still avoid pinch-flatting off road makes for a smoother more comfortable ride.

With this combination of remedies my favorite bike I was riding was a drop-bar full rigid mountain bike sporting a Brooks B17 and 26X2.3 tires. Now I have it set up with a suspension fork as it is my only solo bike (also ride a tandem) and it needs to have some off-road smoothness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for taking the time to respond everybody, and for the information and tips. I find working a desk job 40 hrs a week has really contributed to my poor posture and putting on some extra pounds, which is never good for the body. I would like to loose maybe 15-20 lbs which can only have a positive affect on my joints and back, but riding was my means to do so...

As far as fitting my bike my LBS was good and did size me up and switched out stems and adjusted the seat position accordingly, so supposedly my Trek Mamba fits me... I have always felt a little too stretched out when seated but that goes away when standing. I am looking to get a slightly shorter stem again, I tried this route before the new bars but went too short and it felt too twitchy on my 29er. I also need a new seat as I bent the rails pretty good on my current one which prevents me from adjusting to where I am most comfortable. I am going to get a WTB Pure V which has good reviews so hopefully a little more cushion will help me out.

I will look into kettle ball training as it looks promising. I have tried to build up the muscles in my back but it then seems to be in constant pain: either I am sore from working out or sore from not working out... Not much of a happy medium.
 

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Fart smeller
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Damn! After reading all these posts (hit by a car, wrecked in a race, in a car accident, etc.), I am going to stay inside and sit on my couch and drink beer! :eekster:
 

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I wonder if smoking weed and going out for a ride would help any discomfort? I used to ride with some people that had similar problems and a little 420 went a long way for them.
 

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Mentally yes, but the physical after effects won't be too great once your high wears off. You'll still have the same pain and discomfort - and an appetite.


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