View Full Version : My first post - looking for back pain advice

04-09-2009, 12:39 PM
Hello, All! This is my first post! Iím super excited to have discovered this forum! I hope youg gals can share some knowledge and guidance, as I am in need!

Iíve been spinning for a year now, taking 3-classes a week. I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!

Iíve always been comfortable on the spin bike and havenít had any major issues Ė that is, until about 2-weeks ago.:confused:

I was in class and about half way though, my lower back really started to ache. I felt like I needed to sit up on the saddle to relieve pressure in my lower back. Also, the more resistance, the greater the pain. And forget about mashing - that REALLY hurt.

I am short (5í tall) and was spinning with lower handlebars and the instructor told me to raise them up 2-knoches, but the pain was still there and I was unable to finish class.

The pain is lower lumbar and best described as a burning to aching pain. I will get a sharp pain when I extend my back (bending back). Sitting up for an extended period of time is aggravating as well. Iíve noticed that my back tends to feel better when I flex my back (bending forward/arch), but the relief doesnít last long before I feel like I have to sit up again. ((Slouching isn't very comfortable))

In my last class, I raised the handlebars up even higher than before, just shy of the max height. I was able to spin the entire class with little discomfort, but all class, my back ached.

I went to my doctor and had x-rays done (looked good), so w/o doing an MRI, he really couldnít say too much, other than recommending I do 4-weeks of physical therapy on my lower back. If that doesnít help, then the MRI is next.

My question to you all is, is lower back pain common with someone who has hyper-extended their back? Since Iíve got short arms, are the higher handlebars the best way to go? Iíve been told that my seat height and position look fine. (B-4). How long should might it take for my body to get use to higher handlebars and feel some relief?

Any advice?

04-09-2009, 01:15 PM
The answer to your question is in your body; we're all different. Being short and stretched out too far is a common problem for women. We all heal at different speeds, so no one can really answer that question as to how long. As for whether or not the higher handlebars will help, if they can't get them in closer to you any other way; UP is the way to go. A lot of the people I ride with are older (and stiffer) and they tend to raise their handlebars. On my bike the handlebars are a tiny bit higher than my saddle, I'm less than 5'4" and I'm 57 years old.

good luck and welcome to TE.

04-09-2009, 01:31 PM
Spin bikes, like most other machinery at the gym, are not designed for short people.
I raise the handlebars as far as they will go.

is the pain in your butt or down the back of your leg?

04-09-2009, 01:47 PM
Thanks for replies, ladies!

The pain is only in my lower back. It's not in my butt or leg. :confused:

I use to have the handlebars just a right above my saddle height (3). I can't get closer to the handlebars won't come closer so up it is.....

ny biker
04-09-2009, 01:51 PM
There are so many varieties of back pain, so this might not help, but...when my back hurts it is usually about hip level on the right side, which has been diagnosed as a sacroiliac problem. I've had the problem for many years, but it got worse when I started doing lots of cycling. The thing that helped most was to start a regular stretching routine that I do several times per week at a minimum. Stretching the hamstrings was most important for my back, although it's best to stretch all the major muscle groups rather than just focus on one thing.

This book has a lot of good stretches:


A good physical therapist should be able to give you specific advice on stretches that should help your back.

04-09-2009, 01:59 PM
Physical therapy will likely really help alot. I had terrible lower back pain for several years. It was not from cycling, but from stress, bad furniture at work, and a weak core. I found excellent relief from regular chiropractic visits with a chiropractor who is also a cyclist and physical therapist, and from doing Pilates with a reputable instructor.

I've been pain free for several years. I no longer go to the chiropractor, but I still do Pilates. Pilates really strengthens the core and stretches everything.

I hope you get relief soon.

04-10-2009, 11:41 AM
Tulip mentions a weak core. I tend to agree with her: strengthening your core is a good idea. Also, when is the last time an instructor checked our set-up (not just the handlebar height, but the fore/aft and the height). Might be worth getting set up all over again. Settings for people can change over the years. I'd recommend that too.

Good luck. I had back surgery some years ago (L4/L5 discectomy) and it worked out well for me. I hope you don't have to go to those measures (it doesn't sound like it based on the kind of discomfort you are having).

04-10-2009, 12:14 PM
This sounds like an inflamed SI joint. I have chronic lower back pain that gets very bad when I ride or spin. I get one hip hitched up higher than the other, which makes my back crooked. Inflammation starts, muscles spasm and that's the end of that.

Stretching, especially your hip flexors, and icing it down are things you can do. Then get someone else to massage or do PT. I go to a chiropractor once or twice a month and he whacks my hips back in alignment and there's magic for a while with no pain. Then I do a hard ride or a rowdy spin class and it's back out again. I'm 5'1" and 57 years old and it's not going to get better, but you can learn to deal with it.

The worst thing you can do is ignore it... stretch, icing, PT along with ensuring you have the best bike fit as possible.. for a shorty, that is :)

04-10-2009, 12:28 PM
+1 on PT and/or Pilates.

I pulled a muscle last spring. I went to the doc, who confirmed it was not skeletal - just a pulled muscle. I struggled with it all riding season last year. Started pilates in January, and have seen SO MUCH improvement!!

Good luck to you!!


04-12-2009, 07:28 AM
I had the same problem about 10years ago after I was doing a lot of riding. It got so bad that I could not sit for more then 10 min without beign in significant pain. I went to the Dr. he put me on muscle relxants and gave me pain medication which did absolutely nothing. I had a one of my co-workers... a PT ( I am an OT)help me a bit. What I figured out was that my hamstrings were and still are very tight which pulls on the lower back and my core strenghth was very weak. I focused on a lot of stretching, did yoga and back exercises which helped. If I don't stay on top of it, it flairs up again. Good luck. Back pain is no fun

04-20-2009, 08:04 AM
Thank you all so much for your replies.

I have been taking it easy and have been doing ALOT of stretching and have also been spinning with my handlebars raised. I also ice thoughout the day and take an inti-inflammatory. I am feeling some relief, I am happy to report.

I know I have some other issues that are contributing to my back pain, but I have not yet be able to get those issues nailed down. :(

I have HORRIBLE right hip issues. About 10-months ago I suffered through a hip stress fracture and then horrible brusistis which re-occurs more often then it should. Now (along with my back pain) I think I've pulled a groin muscle or possible it's my hamstring??? Shesh...Again, docs want to do an MRI for a consclusive answer. I can't have MRI 2x-year! Just too dang expensive. For me, I think prevention is the answer.

My co-workers call me Mrs. Glass since it's like I'm always injured. I am young, active and do all the stretches in the world and yet I am always in pain. I guess one of the these days I'll figure it all out. I hope.

Anyway, thank you all for your advice and support! You're a great group!

04-21-2009, 01:14 AM
:)Welcome to TE! So sorry to hear about your pain issues!:( Oh, I totally get it though, been there in so many areas of what you are posting...

OK, do make sure you are happy with your PT. If you don't like the first one you see, request another--better yet if a sports specific one. A great PT can teach you much. Here is my spin on your situation... I woud think part of your issue is body mechanics compensating to the old injury you mention. I have some of the same (plus a book report of other junk I'll skip for now)...

What the PT can tell you is if your body has learned to over-compensate from the old injury. Without us even realizing it, this can happen. Affects SO much.

I modify my rides all the time. If it hurts, stop... and do whatever does not!

Maybe some cross training in the pool could help tide you over under the spin issues get worked out? If you have one available. My PTs were always big on the pool. You don't even have to be a lap swimmer... just walking in the water is working it my PT told me.

I know what you mean about loving Spinning. I'm a certified Spinning instructor through MDA, besides road cycling and mtb. Pedaling is my passion lol. Well, and I'm learning to love the pool per my PT's advice :rolleyes:;).

I hope you find some resolve soon!

08-25-2009, 05:45 PM
Back pain is indeed, the worst. I have been knocked out of the season this year because I had a back muscle go into spasm, it spasmed for so long that it caused MORE problems. I'm happy to report I am able to take short 6-mile rides now.

Stretching is BIG. I am learning it is the most important thing for me to do. Sitting is bad. I'm looking to start pilates (my husband, a tennis player, is thinking he wants to join too) to see if this helps me as well.

I've also ramped up my core strength.

This may sound odd, but there is some science behind it: For inflammation, take a few capsules filled with Turmeric powder (yes, the spice). You'll feel a difference within 30 minutes. It has worked so well with me we started giving it to our older dog, who has hip problems. She's back to running around and enjoying life a little more.

Good luck, I hope you feel better soon. Maybe just rest it for a while - take a week off from spin class, focus on more stretches, and see if it improves.

10-17-2009, 04:42 AM
Double-ditto for pilates - I have had back problems on and off for years, and I find developing a strong core is what helps the most.

10-30-2009, 04:24 AM
OK. I have been dealing w/ low back pain ALL race season, starting in mid-April. It has really affected both my road and mtb riding negatively,as the pain was just relentless. I was just referred to a guy who does ART, Active Release Technique.

I have had 3 sessions so far. They are PAINFUL:eek: but hopefully effective. My last race is 11/7, so I will find out then. He thinks my LBP stems from being tight in the front, tight hip flexors, abs, psoas, quads. I mainly bike which keeps me forward, and then I sit in front of a computer at work all day, which also is a forward posture. Stretch your front out as much as you can, hopefull you can get some relief.