Lower Back Pain and Continued Training

I had a big (to me) climbing event two weeks ago and since then I’ve been struggling with lower back pain. Since I live in the flat, this type of riding is not something I’m used to. Surely my back issues are a result of fatigue setting in throughout and after the ride and the associated compromise in posture. Also, none of this was helped by an immediate 7 hour drive home. I know, we all need to do more core exercise, but that doesn’t solve the immediate problem.

I’m pretty sure rest would do the trick, but the weather is just so dang nice right now and I’d like to mitigate as much fitness loss as possible. So I present this opportunity for the community to list suggestions, home remedies, etc.

What are your suggestions for immediate relief and continued riding? Beyond that, what stretches and core exercises are on the top of everyone’s list for continued maintenance?

Start doing some kind of core workout. Search YouTube for a 5 min routine. Did wonders for me.

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Generally speaking I would buy a blackroll and look up some YouTube videos and the recommendations in the TR Blog.

Rolling could be quite painful. Stretching too. But doing this every! Day in the evening while watching TV will help and loose your muscles fast and prevent from upcoming pain.

If it’s more than the usual lower body pain after a real hard ride and it won’t get better in some days I would go to chiropractor.

I personally have good experiences with doing some yoga. Particularly deep breathing when you are fully stretched is such a great relief. I and feel and hear my spine and muscles. It was my best decision to join some yoga classes to learn the basics.

Hope I could help.

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NIKE Trainings CLUB App. :+1:t2:

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+1 for rolling. I invested in a nice foam roller (with the little spikes on it to really get into the tough spots).

Also, buy a lacrosse ball and a hand roller for your office - this has worked wonders for me, although I occasionally get strange looks when I’m rolling out my quads or calves while on a conference call.

@kgulmer, above all, I suggest releasing your iliopsoas, in particular, your psoas major (PM). These hip flexors originate on your lumbar spine (insert on the head of the femur) which means they’re shortened whenever you’re in a seated position with any bend/flexion at the hips - driving, sitting at a desk, sitting on the sofa, on the bike…sitting anywhere all qualify.

After extended periods, it’s common for a dull ache in the low back to crop up, and this is too often blamed on low back inflexibility or lack of core strength. Both of which may actually be issues, but addressing them without addressing the inflexibility in your hip flexors means you’ll still have the same discomfort.

The couch stretch is my go-to stretch for releasing the PM, but I’m also really fond (in a love/hate manner) of smashing my hip flexors with one of those Supernova massage balls you can get from Rogue or you can probably find something similar on Amazon. Pair it with a heavy kettlebell and let the tears roll. Consistency is key here and in the meantime…

I also find that stretching my psoas/quads mid-ride goes a long, long way toward keeping that ache at bay over the course of longer rides. Whether you do it while riding (bridge of foot on top of your saddle, simulate a couch stretch) or stop and pull your heel to your butt, getting your hip flexors to release can bring immediate relief to a painfully tight low back.


I’ll check it out. I have a herniated disc in my lower back and lateral movement can really throw it out of whack. Rock climbing really helps. Sitting, standing… basically not moving irritates it. Just doing this stuff for 5 minutes a couple times a week changed everything.

This is the one I started with and then altered it later because the first minute workout isn’t what I was looking for.

I added a couple of these to the mix from coach chad

Fantastic! Just what I was looking for. I rolled and stretched last night to great positive effect. I’d been linking back pain to tight hamstrings, but hadn’t considered hip flexors. I’ll add the “couch stretch” to my routine.

Added bonus: I bet my wife will be happy to see me working core back in. :wink:

Further to this have a look at your glute strength and engagement. Tired or weak glutes lead to other muscles having to compensate. This is especially pronounced on long climbs with high sustained power and lower cadence.

Hip bridge holds from the floor, and working up to weighted bridges is a good one to strengthen. As unsexy as it can be, clam shells, as they will target the glutes specifically and show you how strong/weak they actually are.

Anything you can then do to release hip flexor/psoas. Couch stretch is great.
Downward dog and forward fold to release hamstrings.

Buy yourself a softball and lacrosse ball. just work those things into the tight spots and let them release with your bodyweight on top of them.

What Coach Chad said! It’s more than likely the hip flexors being tight and short. I broke my back almost 10 years ago when I was hit from behind by a motorist while riding. Since then I have struggled to deal with the low back pain that plagues me. It took me a year to return to work and 3 more to return to riding. And an additional 2 more years until I was remotely competitive. I have a lot of issues with courses that have a lot of climbing involved. And I’ve found that stretching my hip flexors regularly goes a long way in alleviating that pain.

I do quite a bit of work on my hip flexors as well, so I’m also in agreement with Chad. If you want to go with a cheaper version for digging into that area, I use a softball that I got pretty cheap at Target. Works well.

I too suffer from L4/L5 disc issues and have found both Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage and Yoga for Cyclists by Joe and Maria Kita to help my back issues immensley.
Consistency is the big key.
Best of luck with your rehab as I know the pain and wouldn’t wish on anybody.

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My back pain came from unloading ammunition ships in the army and 20 years as a longshoreman. I get a free TENS unit from the VA and a constant source of batteries.
An inversion table takes the strain off while inverted, then you have to go back to living upright. Does the massage therapist sell them ? I doubt… but at least you can read about them here.
Is there a rolfer anywhere in your town? Deep tissue work does more than just massage.
Are you overweight ? How did you get the backpain ? Was it from a traumatic incident? Have you seen a physical therapist? Do you exercise ? What do you do for it besides see a massage therapist ?
A medical doctor will tell you to exercise. Sitting still will keep it tight. Movement is essential with back pain. You rest - you rust.
Walk. Yoga. Tai Chi. Acupuncture.
Is this muscle related or spine related? Is it anger related ? Are you depressed ?- which is really a stupid question because people in pain are usually depressed.
I was exposed to all these methods while in private practice and working for govt. agency.