Lower back pain when riding

BD1993 Posts: 38
edited December 2018 in Health, fitness & training
I have recently got back into MTB and have noticed that around half an hour into my ride my lower back becomes incredibly uncomfortable, the pain feels like I have just endured 100 back extension reps at the gym. I have stop and pull to one side before carrying on. Being a physiotherapist I am aware that I am hyper-lordotic through my lumbar spine and so having to sit for long periods of time in a relatively flexed position i.e on the bike is lengthening/putting strain on my lower spinal muscles. However, I go to the gym 4-5 x a week and do have strong paraspinal muscles from deadlifting and doing back extensions on a back specific machine. Is my lower back pain the result of just not being used to riding a bike for long periods? Is it a muscular endurance problem? Does anyone else suffer with this? It puts a downer on the rest of my ride as it is such a distracting discomfort.



  • FishFish
    FishFish Posts: 2,152
    Maybe it is the bike rather than you. Go to a specialist bike shop and get it fitted. If it is too small (my instinctive thought) then there are small adjustments you can make - stem, saddle position. No-one else in the world suffers this sore back issueand so there is no need for you to do so. But seriously get the bike fit sorted and it could make a huge difference.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • BD1993
    BD1993 Posts: 38
    The thing is I did notice on one of the review websites, I think it was mbr that the test rider did mention in the article that he too got lower back pain, I suppose it could have something to do with the geometry of the bike ?
  • BD1993
    BD1993 Posts: 38
    As for the frame size I am 6ft 2 and the frame size is a Large so I think it is the right size for me
  • ben11
    ben11 Posts: 103
    Do you carry an extra weight on your back? i.e camelbak?
    This is something I suffer with and enjoy much more comfortable rides since I ditched the backpack.
  • Normally, I'd say it's because you're not used to biking anymore, but half an hour seems as a too short a time to be getting any pain in that area. It's barely enough time to get a proper warm-up. Also, when I ride for extended periods of time (4-6 hours in the seat) and get any back pain, it's usually right below neck. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever had lower back pain after riding a bike for "too long".
  • I suffer from lower back pain when riding. No doubt bike fit can have an impact but I find situation is not ride time related but primarily due to position and weight of camelbak. It also seems to be worse if I have been pushing a harder gear whilst climbing.
    Just standing up and straightening back does relieve pain.
    Once off the bike I do not tend to get any re-occurrance or lasting pain
  • BD1993
    BD1993 Posts: 38
    Well it's funny you mention that because I do carry a backpack on my back and today it was particularly heavy with fluids because of the hot weather. I don't own a hydration pack i.e camelbak but i'm sure that wouldn't make a difference, weight is weight right ?
  • ben11
    ben11 Posts: 103
    Try a flask / bottle cage and see how you get on. It's definitely the way forward for me personally
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    I would suggest you look at your bikes setup. Having the saddle in the wrong position can put pressure on various parts of the body.

    Start by setting the saddle so you have a slight bend in the leg when the pedal is down and the crank arm is in line with the seat tube. You should be able to lift yourself off the saddle upwards in line with the seat post slightly. If not sure try a little too low to begin with.

    Next use KOPS's to set your saddle roughly to the correct fore / aft positon. This helps distribute the weight between the front and rear of the bike.

    Next when on a flat surface make sure your saddle is level. If it is tipping backwards it will put pressure on your lower back. Remember the saddle position is only to get your legs in the right place not to adjust reach to the bars.

    Then you can think about where you want your bars using the stem and spacers to get the position you want.
  • BD1993
    BD1993 Posts: 38
    See, I would be inclined to use a bottle cage but that would be at the expense of then not being able to carry around the essentials like a spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, multitool etc.
  • FishFish
    FishFish Posts: 2,152
    You came and asked for assistance and then reject everything that is offered as good sensible advice.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • BD1993 wrote:
    See, I would be inclined to use a bottle cage but that would be at the expense of then not being able to carry around the essentials like a spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, multitool etc.

    Typically, most of the half decent bikes can carry two bottle cages in stock. If you fit your bike with a large frame triangle bag, it usually still leaves one of the bottle cage mounting points free. I use one of the bottle cage mounts to secure the bag with screws (just punch two holes in the bag). The large bag itself can carry one or more bottles, plus some additional kit.

    Recently bought this bad boy:

    Aside from fitting absolutely everything (spare tube, mini pump, patch kit, tools and a front light), it also serves as a bottle cage. So you can equip yourself with an additional bottle.
  • BD1993
    BD1993 Posts: 38
    Thank you all :)
  • I always wear a lower back support when I ride.. I find that it helps to keep me from slouching and causing tension in my lower back. But be careful what one you buy because a lot out there can do more hamr than good.
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,700
    BD1993 wrote:
    See, I would be inclined to use a bottle cage but that would be at the expense of then not being able to carry around the essentials like a spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, multitool etc.
    Do as the roadies do: spare tube taped under the saddle, co2 canister and multitool in the jersey pockets, plus a phone to call for the support vehicle if you get more than one puncture. :wink:
  • jon1993
    jon1993 Posts: 596
    Scott Spark 30 carbon custom build
    Giant Faith 2 DH bike
    Boardman pro 2011
    Boardman team carbon 2010
    Carrera kracken 2009
    Specialized fsr pro 2009
    Haro custom build
    Cannondale custom build
  • Maybe saddle too high? Could be just that. Your hips should not rock from side to side while pedalling. It doesn't take much so even if you have your saddle adjusted with your leg length and all , have someone follow you to see if they see your hips rock side to side. Some people will never notice their hips are rocking and they will never have back pain , but it doesn't take me much for me to feel pain right away.
    Not sure if this makes sense at all but it works for me.....
  • I have to stretch my back/legs out before and after a ride.
    If you don't stretch your hamstring properly/enough, they will pull on the muscle groups in your back.
  • MTBerSurrey
    MTBerSurrey Posts: 52
    jon1993 wrote:

    Yep, pretty much this.

    Do you have a desk based job? Very easy for the hip flexors and Glutes to get very tight and pull on the lumbar area.

    Check out this routine which should help.

  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    As other's have said get stuff off your back. But since your are hyper lordotic, I'd consider some Transverse abdominal strength training such as TRX ropes and or Pilates. You really do need to do as much as you can to correct that before you damage one of your lumber region.

    Also make sure you stretch after a ride and do as much stretching as you can..
    e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WElIDKxmyQo and also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgEbH31FbWs after each ride
  • Last year I replaced my saddle; immediately upon riding I got pretty bad lower back pain, and this was after not really having more than very mild pain over the prior few years. I decided to look more closely at the saddle, and I had the nose of the saddle up by probably 1-3 degrees (per my thomson seatpost).

    I lowered the nose of the seat a bit--hard to eyeball but definitely is visible with a level, and once again the back pain went away. For sure it's not always this simple, but if you think about the biomechanics and such, riding with the seat's nose up a bit will, all other things constant, force your lumbar spine to open up more, which for a lot of people is one of the primary causes of back pain. All the other fit-related stuff others have posted is important too.
  • The smallest adjustment can make a massive difference and most commonly I find saddle angle and handle bars are incorrect. Here is a link to my thoughts on saddle setup. Also Handle bars should be flat or near as. Crouching down in fornt of your bike and look at the bars. If they flare up like an aeroplane flying then they are to far forward. Bars are designed also for turning so rolling them back will change any discomfort and control on the bike. It may look odd from above when on the bike but that just angle you are looking from. https://www.facebook.com/MountainBiking ... 522100697/
  • One thing I have noticed that helps with lower back pain is when I get home, I spend about 5 to 10 min rolling out my back, with a foam roller. Every since I started that I haven't noticed back pain during or after rides! best of luck mate!