Lower back pain and bikes

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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Chalo   100 GW

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by Chalo » Jun 17 2019 10:51pm

When I was younger and at my fastest, I used handlebars situated some 8" lower than saddle level. It wasn't just for aerodynamics, either (though that was both an aim and a benefit). Keeping my back flat and my reach long meant being able to pedal really hard without having to pull on the handlebars, because my torso served as a counterpoise. When I turned up the heat, I could cross town at an average speed higher than my current e-bike's top speed.

Many years later, I now usually have my handlebars at least somewhat higher than saddle level. I don't get in a hurry when I'm the only source of power. I generally avoid getting in a hurry at all, because I don't have to and it's undignified.

Using an aggressively aerodynamic upright bike riding position, without making a lot of pedal effort, is probably more uncomfortable than using the same position while pedaling hard. It just doesn't make sense biomechanically.

However, if you ride an e-bike without pedaling, then you may as well ride in the dead-guy-on-a-stretcher, feet-first position. That's the position I use when I'm sleeping and making zero watts of pedal power. It works great for that.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by dogman dan » Jun 18 2019 8:12am

Well, for about 8 years, I was a dead guy on a stretcher, unable to pedal a half a mile. It was then that I tried the semi recumbent. But I found my back could not go very far. Anyway, dead guys on stretchers aren't in that place by choice usually.

At that time too, I lost a ton of my core strength. I was unable to walk around the block, let alone do any kind of core exercises. I lay in bed for 8 years, and my back hurt every second of it.


Core strength is the only cure that really helps a crushed back. You have to float those discs that got crushed, on muscle. But meanwhile, stay the hell off any bike that hurts to ride. But its up to your injury what works. I know a guy who is fine as long as he stays bent over. Hurts him to stand up straight. Wouldn't if he had a stronger core though. Perhaps only 1% of people that are really hurt can stand the pain long enough to get that much core strength back. I just savor pain, like a fine wine.


Now, almost ten years since I got sick, I got a lot of my core strength back. And now I can stand about 6 miles on my road bike. But I have to admit, not much time in the drops. Couldn't ride that bike if it did not fit me good. Our 72 gitane does not fit me, cant ride it. My even earlier motobecane fits so so, never rode it very far. But my 83 Centurion road bike fits me perfect, and I am falling in love with pedaling it. Riding it in the drops does not hurt my back much, but I ride so slow the bumps don't hurt much anyway. But I'm still too fat to ride in the drops long. :lol: I gained a lot of weight lying in bed for 8 years.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by donn » Jun 18 2019 9:18am

dogman dan wrote:
Jun 17 2019 9:19am
Everybody has to find what works for them. And in the process, do try a bent. Its the bees knees for many riders with back pain. For me, its not.
That makes sense to me. I don't have any back problems at all, myself, but I guess it's the #1 thing people ask me - is it easier on your back? I don't know why. The back is designed with this complicated tension/compression system of muscles and bones and so forth. When that works, it's by far its own best way to absorb shock; when it isn't, it does seem unlikely there's going to be any simple, general workable alternative. I assume they ask because they or someone they know was put off uprights because of back trouble, but it isn't that simple.

I have however heard of hard core upright racers developing back problems, which is a different issue. Because of a muscle development imbalance, basically just doing too much of one thing all the time. The one case I know of semi-miraculous back recovery, she more or less stopped doing "exercises" because she was too busy poking around in the bushes and doing all kinds of random stuff. All kinds of random stuff apparently turned out to be the best exercise, by far.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by wturber » Jun 18 2019 9:35am

donn wrote:
Jun 18 2019 9:18am
... The one case I know of semi-miraculous back recovery, she more or less stopped doing "exercises" because she was too busy poking around in the bushes and doing all kinds of random stuff. All kinds of random stuff apparently turned out to be the best exercise, by far.
When in doubt, try adding yoga. There are even yoga instructors that specialize in back issues. No guarantees, of course. But I know more than a handful of people who were helped by just adding in some yoga.

I've never had back issues from cycling. But I have had neck and upper shoulder issues from long hours in the classic road aero position. Holding one's head up to look forward is a pretty significant strain for me. The muscles in that area get tight and can even go numb on a many hours ride.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by 2old » Jun 18 2019 9:44am

Agree with Dan's advice not to ride a torture machine. My back is great, almost pain-free. Only problem is if the handlebars are too low in relation to the saddle and I need to crank my neck up. For this reason, I don't ride "road" bikes and the bars are as high or higher than the seat on my MTB's, electrified or not.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by neptronix » Jun 18 2019 11:03am

e-beach wrote:
Jun 17 2019 9:09pm
When I had my beach front apartment, I used to get on the bike path early in the morning and ride my road bike at least 150 miles per week. Sometimes more, like 85 in a day. In that position your neck really takes a beating not to mention your prostate and tail bone.
I have a road bike currently ( my first roadbike ever ), and yes absolutely.. the low bars hurt the neck, and a lot of body weight ends up being concentrated on the prostate, if the stock seat is kept. It is a very ergonomically poor way to go another 2mph.

When i used to live in California's central coast, which had nearly perfect weather year round, i rode a hybrid bike ( handlebars more upright than a MTB ) about 36 miles round trip back and forth to work. Sure, it was a slow bike. But i never ended up being hurt by that ride.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by donn » Jun 18 2019 11:48am

wturber wrote:
Jun 18 2019 9:35am
When in doubt, try adding yoga. There are even yoga instructors that specialize in back issues. No guarantees, of course. But I know more than a handful of people who were helped by just adding in some yoga.
On the other hand, my anecdotal example traces her back problems back to a yoga incident. (Come on, you can go farther into that stretch ... Yeaaiaow!) As long as there's no pushing of the "no pain, no gain" kind, and the yogic curriculum is a lot of varied stuff, I suppose it may be a good thing, but it may pay to be skeptical of lots of repetitions of the same thing.
I've never had back issues from cycling. But I have had neck and upper shoulder issues from long hours in the classic road aero position. Holding one's head up to look forward is a pretty significant strain for me. The muscles in that area get tight and can even go numb on a many hours ride.
That's the worst spot for me. There's butt pain, there's hands and feet, but the neck would really scream. Could have been a sign that I needed to flex my back to take up more of the curve. That's the kind of stuff that happens when you ride longer than you're used to on an upright bicycle. The back injuries (according to what I heard) are racers, doing stuff they're used to and doesn't hurt at the time, but develops into an unhealthy muscle imbalance that may cause back troubles at some point, probably off the bike and they likely won't recognize the connection.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by wturber » Jun 18 2019 12:08pm

donn wrote:
Jun 18 2019 11:48am
wturber wrote:
Jun 18 2019 9:35am
When in doubt, try adding yoga. There are even yoga instructors that specialize in back issues. No guarantees, of course. But I know more than a handful of people who were helped by just adding in some yoga.
On the other hand, my anecdotal example traces her back problems back to a yoga incident. (Come on, you can go farther into that stretch ... Yeaaiaow!) As long as there's no pushing of the "no pain, no gain" kind, and the yogic curriculum is a lot of varied stuff, I suppose it may be a good thing, but it may pay to be skeptical of lots of repetitions of the same thing.
I've never had a yoga instructor push me to go farther into a stretch. If anything, they bend over backwards (so to speak) to caution participants not to overdo it and that yoga is not a competition in flexibility or anything else.

I used yoga for its greater variety of body movements because I thought that competitive table tennis has too great a tendency to lead to body imbalance. It seemed to help.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by donn » Jun 18 2019 3:29pm

wturber wrote:
Jun 18 2019 12:08pm
and that yoga is not a competition in flexibility or anything else.
A web search on "yoga champion" will turn up primarily people from the school where this happened. I guess this may be an exception in the yoga world, but it's one that's very easy to encounter in the US.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by e-beach » Jun 18 2019 5:30pm

I used to practice yoga 4 to 6 days a week or years as an Astangie until I dislocated my shoulder in a yoga class. If you are practicing yoga for health, never-ever consider it a competition. I can tell you from 1st hand experience you will not win a gold medal for being able to rest your chin comfortably on your shins. And, in my case, the yoga instructor got behind in the class and started to move us along quickly to finish her class in time. I unfortunately got her "hurry-up" vibe and popped up into a back-bend commonly called "wheel" and blew out my right shoulder. Long story short I now have chronic tendonitis and a pertinently weak shoulder. So do not do yoga as a competition because you might hurt yourself permanently.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by markz » Jun 19 2019 1:35pm

Any one use Dr. Ho's therapy devices, As Seen on TV ?

I went to look for a Tens device, and the medical supply store, COOP had Dr Ho and a Tens machine.
Tens is short for some fancy dancy name, googled is Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by LeftieBiker » Jun 19 2019 10:45pm

markz wrote:
Jun 19 2019 1:35pm
Any one use Dr. Ho's therapy devices, As Seen on TV ?

I went to look for a Tens device, and the medical supply store, COOP had Dr Ho and a Tens machine.
Tens is short for some fancy dancy name, googled is Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

No HO Belt, but I do use a Tens. (Tenns?) It works pretty well, but in bed it tends to turn off when you lie on it, and will turn off anyway every 15 minutes or so. The relief it provides does last longer than the time you wear it - especially if you do several sessions in a row first.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by e-beach » Jun 19 2019 10:52pm

I had one doctor tell me that often muscles can tighten up in ways as to pull the vertebra in bad ways. A tens unit will relax the muscles and allow the vertebra recenter into there proper place. He uses one himself.

:D :bolt:
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by markz » Jun 19 2019 11:04pm

The ones at the medical store are outrageous in price, I got the model of the one my physio uses
EV-804-MV not too sure on the MV part, I just dont want to purchase anything random on fleabay or rainforest.
A quick giggle and found this
https://www.amazon.com/iStim-EV-804-Cha ... B07D1YPTGF
Very similar to my physio's unit, same top clear plastic for strength of electrics, same flip front, and 2 channel.
150Hz and 100us was the setting, could be reversed with 100Hz and 150us.

Not going to them no more, my physio didn't do much except talk to others, twice now. And the one on one time wasnt sufficient, even though it was 40 minutes, but 3 overlaps of patients. Looking around there are a ton of physio's around.
I got the electro treatment for 15 minutes, then some gel like a baby scan I thinik is a laser, and one where I wear shades, and the lady puts up a sign on the curtain and closes it.




LeftieBiker wrote:
Jun 19 2019 10:45pm
.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by ZeroEm » Jun 20 2019 9:40am

by dogman dan » Jun 18 2019 8:12am
Core strength is the only cure that really helps a crushed back. You have to float those discs that got crushed, on muscle. But meanwhile, stay the hell off any bike that hurts to ride. But its up to your injury what works. I know a guy who is fine as long as he stays bent over. Hurts him to stand up straight. Wouldn't if he had a stronger core though. Perhaps only 1% of people that are really hurt can stand the pain long enough to get that much core strength back. I just savor pain, like a fine wine.
I hear you and will work on that and I have learned not to cover up pain, get to know it. I tried pain pills but made things worse. my bikes are better pain treatments.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by e-beach » Jun 20 2019 1:15pm

markz wrote:
Jun 19 2019 11:04pm
...... then some gel like a baby scan I thinik is a laser,.......
It sounds like ultra sound. I was getting that as well during my course of physical therapy this spring.
Ultrasound for Back Pain Therapy
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Ultrasound for back pain is a time-tested method of delivering heat into deep tissues, thereby alleviating stiffness and increasing circulation, as well as improving cellular metabolic response. Ultrasound has been a popular and widely practiced medical treatment for a very long time now, with varying applications proving just how valuable this technology can be for both diagnosis and symptomatic therapy. Doctors often refer to ultrasound treatment as deep heat diathermy.


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Favorite Quotes:
"This is L.A., sugar. There is no 'over the top." Chris Erskine
"At a certain point the entropy wins." Maria Helena Braga

Current Build: ProFlex 757 Expert full suspension. Yescomusa 36v 800w Rear DD, upgraded 10AWG solid core through axle phase wires. 15ah Headway, 1000+ cycles, 80% DOD 30A Tronsung controller.

Past: Trek 4500 Yescomusa 36v 800w front DD.
Liahona, Yescomusa 36v 800w generic front DD.
1992 Trek 800, Yescomusa 800w 36v front DD.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by dogman dan » Jun 21 2019 7:09am

FWIW, I got my core strength by windsurfing. I already knew how, and had a waterstart. So no pulling up the sail. The sail would pull me out of the water, and I could feel the back hyperextend as I came up onto the board. Dr Ho on steroids.

I keep my core strong now, oddly enough, by shoveling. Weird recreation, but done moderately, with an already strong back, it works for me. Weird, but it works for me. I also do back hyperextensions all day, just using my core strength to pop it back to longer. I can feel it when I get short, flex, and get a half inch taller, with that one vertebrae that twists straight again.

If I could not do that, I'd be buying a dr ho's, till my back got strong. But if you wear that, or any other brace all day for years, you just get weaker core. I also found an inversion table helpful. I'd use it if I spent a day laying tile. At that point, the muscles all cramped, I'd need the table before I could sleep.

Do experiment, and find the weird thing that works for you. Many have back problems that are just pissed off muscles pulling you out of line. For those, massage, hot tubs, or whatever works fine. I did the hot tub for many years before I actually crushed a disk. Tub, then the wife would pop my back back into place.

Lastly, if you need pain pills daily, toughen up. You can't feel what is happening in there if you just took 500 mg of ibuprofins. Take the pills for sleep, but during the day don't make it worse by dulling the pain. You need to know what motions to avoid. And when to stop. Once I got hurt, my heavy construction carreer was over. Took me five years to be able to hold a part time job. Don't work yourself into the hospital. It cost me to quit working, but I never got worse after the one disc blew.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by Peterfr12 » Jun 21 2019 1:20pm

Hi

my back and my neck were also suffering a lot when i was riding a diamond frame ebike. I share the same point of view as Neptronix. I invested in a fully suspended recumbent bike and it alleviated all my health issues. I can ride 100 miles a day without any problem. Next morning back in the saddle - or armchair - without any pain.

good luck,

Pierre

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by Chalo » Jun 21 2019 1:41pm

Wheelchairs are appropriate for those who need wheelchairs. If those who don't need them, use them, they can become debilitated. I would not resort to a wheelchair bike before first trying a wide range of rider position setup with a normal bike.

A century and a half of experience and experimentation has determined that a normal bike layout is optimal for a rider of normal capabilities. That's why it's normal.

If the intention is to ride an e-bike without pedaling, then the basic assumptions are different, and the optimum layout will differ. That's why conventional scooters and motorcycles don't use the same rider position as bicycles (though there is a certain amount of overlap). I'll note that recumbent layout has been found lacking for motorcycles just as for bicycles, which is why there aren't any recumbent motorcycles.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by donn » Jun 21 2019 2:50pm

Sure, humans clearly evolved to ride hunched over on skinny bicycle seats. Anyone who supposes otherwise is deluded!

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by markz » Jun 21 2019 4:50pm

Custom recumbent motorbike
http://windwaterearthmind.blogspot.com/ ... cycle.html

Company recumbent motorbike
https://newatlas.com/suprine-exodus-rec ... cle/28398/



Chalo wrote:
Jun 21 2019 1:41pm
recumbent motorcycles.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by wturber » Jun 21 2019 4:57pm

Chalo wrote:
Jun 21 2019 1:41pm

A century and a half of experience and experimentation has determined that a normal bike layout is optimal for a rider of normal capabilities. That's why it's normal.
The vast majority of that century and a half of use is for low speed, short mileage trips. When you start riding for many hours at a time and for very long distances, you shouldn't be surprised if you find the classic safety bicycle layout less than optimal.
Chalo wrote:
Jun 21 2019 1:41pm

I'll note that recumbent layout has been found lacking for motorcycles just as for bicycles, which is why there aren't any recumbent motorcycles.
Right. Given the motorcycle doesn't have to provide distance for the rider to nearly fully extend their legs as is the case for a well designed bicycle, it is easy to get a fairly low wind profile without going recumbent. Furthermore, good aerodynamics dont carry the same premioum given typical power to weight ratios. Nonetheless, I still see a fair number of motorcycle riders using a semi-recumbent "cruiser"position.
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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by markz » Jun 21 2019 7:11pm

Next step in the evolutionary chain of transportation....
Self Driving Motorcycles AND e-Bicycles

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by donn » Jun 21 2019 7:34pm

wturber wrote:
Jun 21 2019 4:57pm
Nonetheless, I still see a fair number of motorcycle riders using a semi-recumbent "cruiser"position.
Which looks to me like a sure recipe for back trouble. When I rode a motorcycle, my model was the motorcycle police, who it seems to me are pretty good about bending forward at the hips and keeping the shoulders and head up and back, keeping the back flexed the way it should be while standing. That's the way I believe the back is designed to support weight. It helps that they usually have floorboards, which if done well give you a little extra leg room and hence less strain at the hips.

With a recumbent seat that supports the back, it's whole different situation.

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Re: Lower back pain and bikes

Post by dogman dan » Jun 22 2019 7:56am

What kills you varies by person, the state of their core strength, and the nature of any injury.

what kills me as bad as a bent, is a low roof car seat like a celica or accord, with its semi recumbent position, and typically stiff suspension. The more upright position of the seat and plusher suspension in my van suits me best for a long trip.


I do agree with Chalo though, that if you are healthy, you should pedal harder, on a well fitted bike. I just could not, at all, for about 5 years.

But if you like the fit of a bent, why not? Just get the hell off what ever bike hurts you, or adjust it at least.

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