Help! How to Recover from Low Back Pain

Discussion in 'Health Nutrition and Supplements' started by Blackberry, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. Blackberry

    Blackberry New Member

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    I ride several thousand miles a year, and at the age of 51 finally had an injury that has kept me off the bike for more than a few days. Apparently, I have a lower back injury known as a disc bulge. It's not herniated but it did lead to some pretty painful events over a several month period last fall. Ultimately, I've seen both a doctor and a chiropractor. After three weeks of following a stretching and related exercise program, I'm feeling pretty good. Not quite ready for the bike, but close. (By the way, I never had a back problem before, and was dubious about chiropractors. But I feel like this guy pretty much knows what he's doing. At least my back feels better, and I haven't re-injured it as I did when I was trying to manage the situation on my own).

    However, I'm being told that in the future I should limit my bike riding to twice a week. That, of course, is simply unacceptable. I'm not sure what my next step should be. Find a sports medicine doctor? Most of them seem to focus on running and don't know much about backs. Set up my own self-care program? If so, what? Find a chiropractor whose focus will be keeping me on the bike?

    If anyone's been through something like this I'd sure like to know what worked for you. I'm considering a higher, shortr stem and maybe even switching to a more forgiving road bike--a Lemond Big Sky for example. Thanks!
     
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  2. lumpy

    lumpy New Member

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    The biggest help for me with my bad disc is doing lots of crunches, and keeping the hamstrings strong and very flexible.
    The strong abs help support the back and keep things in place, and the limber hamstrings take a lot of strain off of the lower back muscles.

    good luck!
     
  3. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Agree stretching and core strength is the key to preventing low back pain on the bike. I've been doing daily stretching and light core work now since the summer, and my pain on the bike is virtually gone. Go slow with this, since you don't want the exercises to be the cause of the pain. It just takes a little consistent work over a period of months to make you stronger and more flexible. It's worth 5-10 minutes a day to be able to ride without back pain.

    I wouldn't accept 2 days a week riding either, but it's probably good advice while you're healing. Once twice a week is comfortable, I'd add a third day and see how it goes. Just back off the pace at the first sign of pain.

    For me, it's important to watch the effort level as well....too much hard effort in the big ring will put the hurt on the lower back, particularly if it's cold or early in the season.
     
  4. xbgs351

    xbgs351 New Member

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    Crunches are passe.
     
  5. eortiz

    eortiz New Member

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    Disc bulging or herniated disc are both pretty much the same in meaning. Your disc is bulging and hence hitting one of your nerve. Herniated is also the cause of your disc bulging and irritating a nerve in your back. I have/had the same problem. L5 and hitting the S1 nerve. I felt tight on my lower back and can't bear sitting or standing too long. My cure? Well I was unemployed for a good year and was pretty much on my back most of the time (everytime chance I get). I saw a PT for a couple of weeks and tried to continue the exercise I was doing. I was also treated with ultra sound to put some heat on my back muscles. Of course when my insurance ran out I was just doing the exercise I was doing. Oh the PT also, I forgot the term, "pulled" me a apart (horizontally while laying down) on a bench machine. The exercise I did was laying flat on my stomach and doing push-ups without my hips leaving the ground then holding it for 5 sec. (3x5 times). When standing I arch my back to the right posture (stcik my butt out). Never bend your back as much as possible (ie putting on socks, lifting, etc.). Crunches and back extensions. Anyway, now I am back on my saddle and just did a century. One more thing, when my back gets tight I lay on the floor and twist from my hips and stretch my back. It really feels good when you hear your back/cartilidge (?) make a cracking sound :D Give it time and you probably need to give your body that much needed rest anyway since you mentioned you ride thousands of miles in a year. Either that or you'll push your back to the limit and worse is you can never ride your bike anymore (I hope not). Good luck
     
  6. dvince

    dvince New Member

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    Anyone has any experience with chiropractors?
    I suffer from back pain too, it's a big problem and I can't resolve it.
    When pushing big gear or high power I am dying from my back pain.
    I can't resolve the problem with the correct bike position or with exercises for back.
    It seems that my lower back vertebres are a little flatten and that should cause the pain, although I am not sure that the problem is physical and not biomechanical and ortopeds don't know nothing about biomechanical problems on bike.
    So I would try my last hope, the chiropractor; but I am a little sceptical about spending money maybe for nothing?!
     
  7. Blackberry

    Blackberry New Member

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    I know how ya feel. In fact, I posted the original question on this board. Here's my experience. I was (and still am a little) skeptical about chiropractors. HOWEVER, since starting to go to a chiropractor about a month ago, I have NO BACK PAIN. None. That's the good news. The challenging news is that I haven't ridden my bike during that time, either.

    He has given me a set of exercises (all bending backwards--nothing forward) which I do religiously. I walk at least a mile--or as many as three or four--a day and can actually jog on a track (not on hills) several times a week without pain. I also bought a lumbar support for my desk chair. Very helpful.

    I'm not sure how much the back adjustments do. Maybe they help. I don't know. But learning how to sit and stand properly has made a difference as have the exercises. I'm sure about that.

    I'm guessing he's going to suggest that I ride maybe five miles at an easy does it pace sometime within the next few weeks. It's slow progress, but it IS progress.

    By the way, if you have reasonably decent health insurance, it should cover a fair portion of your payment. Good luck!
     
  8. kennf

    kennf New Member

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    In addition to all of the above, you may also want to adjust your position. A slight rise in your handlebar height can make a huge difference. Given the number of miles you ride, a professional bike fit is invaluable, if you have not already done this. I've had back pain for the last twenty years, and finally have a bike position that doesn't hurt.

    Also, the more core exercises you can do, the better (get yourself a Swiss ball), and your chiro may not be on the cutting edge as far as physical training goes.
     
  9. TonyBee112

    TonyBee112 New Member

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    Self-help manuals have really helped me with my lower back problem. Read them all and make your own decision and find the exercises that work for you.
    Sarah Key's Back Sufferers Bible is a good self help manual with practical exercises for all sorts of back pain. Find details at www.sarahkey.com
     
  10. n crowley

    n crowley New Member

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    What was the cause of your injury ?
     
  11. mdplayer

    mdplayer New Member

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    My chriropractor did the same thing....but since im his bike mechanic, he told me the cheaper way to go instead of paying 35 bucks a week to be stretched...use an inversion table...hangs you by your feet and pulls you apart...I use mine for about 2 or 3 minutes a day and my back feels great. I still go to him once in a while for my buldged disc and he says things look much better from the table....

    my $.02
     
  12. ishiwata

    ishiwata New Member

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    i've had minor lower back pain, but nothing that has really hampered my riding. i got a bike with a threaded headset, installed a nitto technomic stem, and raised the bars a bit and it feels great. maybe not very racy, but i was never a very aero rider anyway, and now i feel stronger in the climbs.. i'd definately recommend trying it.
     
  13. mcortazzo

    mcortazzo New Member

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    if you didnt like the crunches idea you might not like doing some pilates to increase core strenght and flexibility. Severe back pain lead me to sports medicine doctors telling me to avoid the bike had me hesisitant about cycling(road and mountain). Yet once I began a training program that included core strength and lots of stretching I have never felt better. Not to mention my riding has improved. I recommend pilates if you are inexperienced with regard to basic kinestheology , if you do have some knowledge of fitness some time in the gym may help

    -Mike
     
  14. WayneOsWorld

    WayneOsWorld New Member

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    I have a new (4 years old) shiny titanium disc between C5-C6. I realize the differences between the cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae are significant, but I think the advice given earlier is wise. I started riding 3 years ago because of the metal parts in my spine, built up slowly and now I plan on riding RAGBRAI (~500 miles across Iowa in a week) for the fourth time.

    You can do it. Yes, you will need to adjust some things on your bike (for example, my handlebars are higher than most) to make it comfortable for long distances and frequent rides. Having two (or more) bikes is great - make some minor adjustments to one, while keeping the other in the original configuration. I was surprised how much a small adjustment affected my comfort on a three hour ride.

    Best wishes - keep up the stretching both before and after your rides.
     
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