There are a lot of posts on here about back pain and I don’t mean to add to the noise, but I haven’t seen anything that fits my situation precisely. For the last few years I’ve had a consistent problem with low back pain, dead center, right at the bottom of the lumbar, just above the sacrum. It’s bad enough that I usually back way off on the intensity, and sometimes end up walking up steep singletrack climbs.
It almost never bothers me on the road bike, even on higher intensity, 3+ hour rides. It almost always shows up on mtb rides, usually after only 30-40 minutes or so. And it occasionally bothers me on gravel/cyclocross rides. Because of this, I think it has something to do with the jackhammer effect of singletrack (my mtn bike is a hardtail). Also, a couple years back I spent five days riding in Fruita on a rented full-suspension bike and my back was great. But I should say that steep, sustained, dirt climbs also seem to contribute to the pain (might be a gearing issue since I’m forced into a much lower cadence than I’d like, <75rpm).
So it seems the best solution would be to just go full-suspension but it’s not financially in the cards for the near future.
As the back pain got worse over the last couple years I’ve added various things to combat it, which have all helped, but nothing has completely solved the problem. I see a sports massage therapist once a month and she spends a lot of time on all of my hip attachments and muscles (on the theory that my glutes, hams, etc are too tight for my low back muscles and so pull my hips into a nasty configuration). I stretch after every ride, again paying attention to hip attachments and mobility. I stretch and use a foam roller after strength work (1-2 times per week). I’ve also been doing martial arts for 15+ years, which I would think might help balance out the one-dimensional nature of cycling movements.
Any and all suggestions welcome. The back pain effectively limits my mtb rides to an hour or less, which is super frustrating. Please help!