Lower back problems + bigger bars advice

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5/16/2017 1:43 PM

My lower back's been hurting again lately, it started up again around the time when I got my new frame which is 1/4" longer than my old one. Not sure if that's the cause but it seems like it makes sense cause I'd be hunched over the bike a bit more. That or just coincidence.

So to remedy this, I'm considering taller bars to put me in a more upright position and relieve stress on my lower back. Right now I have 8.66" rise bars, and I wanna bump up to 9.75" rise bars. Do you guys think that would help make things better or just make things worse? It's only a little more than 1 inch but idk.




Also, I did see a doctor about it when it started up again a few months ago... The back specialist said to strengthen my core, stretch, etc, and I should be fine & be able to stay ahead of the back pain.

Today however, I didn't get to see him but instead saw some other doctor who I can only assume got her medical license in a box of cereal. Basically she told me to highly consider giving bmx up. I wanted to walk out right then & there. She then talked my ear off for the next 30 or 40 minutes about the anatomy of the back and how bad bmx is for it and how I should really make the choice of giving it up before it completely destroys my back and even compared it to having cancer and how "if you know something gives you cancer, you wouldn't keep going back to that? same thing with your back & bmx"

so I really need to see a better doctor first off, but I wanted your opinions as well because I've always gone by the rule of if your doctor tells you something like that, see a better doctor

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5/16/2017 2:08 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/16/2017 2:21 PM

I'd say try 9 or 9.25 maybe 9.5? How much overall rise do you plan to have? 8.6/topload can be equal to 9.85/front load depending on stem rise. I ride 9.2 bars for 10.25" total rise including stem/spacers @ 6'1 I love it
Edit**
Cult AK bars 9,9.35,9.65 rise 12b 2u

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5/16/2017 2:10 PM

Screw that second doctor. And the longer frame wouldn't make you hunch over the more infact it would decrease the hunch. Higher bars sounds like a good idea. And maybe a frame with a lower bb height?? Not sure about that one. I'm no expert, just my theories. How old are you btw?

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Rider & A Writer

5/16/2017 2:34 PM

chiefndaily wrote:

I'd say try 9 or 9.25 maybe 9.5? How much overall rise do you plan to have? 8.6/topload can be equal to 9.85/front load ...more

Right now I have a 7.5mm rise front load stem with 8.66" bars. I tried a top load with those same bars awhile back and while I liked the added rise, it made tailwhips a lot harder and I couldn't get used to it so I got rid of the stem. If taller bars will help my back though, I can live with that. I wanna do bars cause I don't like the look of top loads personally, and I'm due for bars anyway.

The bars I'm looking at are the Sunday Manhandle bars because they're the same dimensions as mine, just 9.75" so it'd be 7.5 rise stem / 9.75" rise bars. I'm about 5'8" if that helps.

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5/16/2017 2:38 PM

vck wrote:

Screw that second doctor. And the longer frame wouldn't make you hunch over the more infact it would decrease the hunch. ...more

Really? cause I feel like it would since the bars are a tiny bit more away than usual but idk haha that's why I asked.

BB height is 11.5", not sure if that's high or low cause I never paid too much attention in geometry anyway. Not really trying to get a new frame though considering I just got this one.

I'm 24, doctor kept going on & on about that too and how that's apparently too old for this bmx stuff -____-

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5/16/2017 2:59 PM

vck wrote:

Screw that second doctor. And the longer frame wouldn't make you hunch over the more infact it would decrease the hunch. ...more

sundaybmxRR wrote:

Really? cause I feel like it would since the bars are a tiny bit more away than usual but idk haha that's why I asked.

BB ...more

Fuck that, if i had a Doc try to give me a 40 minute lecture on how to live my life i'd have told them to piss off in the first 5 mins and asked for a 2nd opinion from the first doc on a medical basis and not as a lifestyle judgement.

as for the longer frame i would have thought it would have raked you out more as well, so adding taller bars might be the answer, you could just try clamping your stem upside down and up a bit higher to see what it feels like if you have any stem spacers lying around, might give you a feel for what the taller bars are going to be like before buying.

also, YOU know your body better than anyone, a doc that see's you every couple of months for 5 mins is making assumptions based on the average person/population, everyone's different to an extent in some way or another, like people that run higher or lower than average body temps for instance.

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5/16/2017 3:00 PM

11.5 is a low bb.
But higher bars didn't affect my lower back at all. Lower bars made my shoulders/neck ache a bit. But the difference in bar height your talking about seems a bit extreme to me. Try half an inch bigger before you get massive bars, it has quite a bag impact on how your bike feels

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5/16/2017 3:10 PM

weegaz22 wrote:

Fuck that, if i had a Doc try to give me a 40 minute lecture on how to live my life i'd have told them to piss off in the ...more

I should've haha. I'm following up with the first doctor in a couple weeks so I'll definitely bring that up with him.

But that's true, I don't have any room on my steerer tube for spacers cause I cut it down so I'll just need to flip my stem or try a friends bike, maybe even see if they'll let me throw their bars on for a few minutes so I can feel it on my bike haha

and good point, I got my back looked at a few months ago cause it was starting to hurt again and before that it was over 2 years since I saw a doctor and she kept acting like I was in there on a regular basis for it or something.

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5/16/2017 3:15 PM

grumpySteve wrote:

11.5 is a low bb.
But higher bars didn't affect my lower back at all. Lower bars made my shoulders/neck ache a bit. But the ...more

I just feel it might help since I'd be hunched over the bike less. Like I said above somewhere, I tried a top load stem which put my bars up about an inch and while I did like the feel, it fucked my tailwhips and was so hard to keep the bike under me. Everything else felt great though but like you said it does seem a bit extreme.

I'm just worried I'll bump up only half an inch, then end up wanting more rise cause then I'm stuck cause I dislike the looks of top loads. At the same time though, if I bump up a whole inch and end up disliking it... I'm stuck either way. Idk I'll play around and try friends bikes and see what height feels best. Thanks for the input

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5/16/2017 3:16 PM

sundaybmxRR wrote:

Really? cause I feel like it would since the bars are a tiny bit more away than usual but idk haha that's why I asked.

BB ...more

Yeah, the bars are a bit farther away but that would make your back stretch out more where as shorter frames curl your back hence hunching over the bike.

I think you're going the right way with the bigger bars. Adding spacers is a good idea.

But maybe the best would be to maybe work on your back and try to correct it while off the bike with some exercises or something rather than on the back. I wouldn't worry too much though, I'm 23 and have a bit of lower back issues as well, never bad enough that it made me go see a doctor though. And I do know a couple of friends around the age with some issues as well. Seems to be a modern thing.

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Rider & A Writer

5/16/2017 3:26 PM

I went to taller bars and a top load and it seems to have helped. I am now on a 1/2" longer frame as well and that seems to have helped.

I also have not put more than maybe an hour at a time on it. But taller bars always help with lower backs.

That doctor is telling you the best way to ensure minimal issues some day, HOWEVER if you take necessary steps and care with training and strength, there is no saying you could be issue free forever.

Look at DMC or Hoffman, both killing it in their 40s.

Take that doctor lady.

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5/16/2017 3:36 PM

vck wrote:

Yeah, the bars are a bit farther away but that would make your back stretch out more where as shorter frames curl your back ...more

I'd add some spacers to see what height I like if I didn't already cut my steerer tube all the way down, kinda messed up there haha but yeah I do core strengthening & stretches already. Back pain is so shitty for anyone.

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5/16/2017 3:41 PM

dave lawrence wrote:

I went to taller bars and a top load and it seems to have helped. I am now on a 1/2" longer frame as well and that seems to ...more

I'm definitely gonna do taller bars now that everyone's given me good input, just gotta play around on some friends bikes to see what height I wanna go to then I'll shop around.


But yeah I get that she was trying to advise me on the best way to not have constant pain when I'm older, but she made it sound like if I keep riding bmx then I'll die or something. I wanted to bring up people like Hoffman or Bestwick and how they're nearly twice my age still killing it, but I also wanted her to stop talking already haha

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5/16/2017 4:34 PM

vck wrote:

Yeah, the bars are a bit farther away but that would make your back stretch out more where as shorter frames curl your back ...more

Shorter frame and taller bars will make you stand up straighter as you don't have to reach as far forward. It's the only reason I've been able to ride for the past year or so after injuring my lower back at work. Any time I get on a friend's bike which is .25" longer and with .25" shorter bars, I'll be in agony for the next hour or so after only 5 mins of riding.

sundaybmxRR: I'd definitely suggest bars anywhere up to 9.5. Anything over that would probably be a little excessive in my mind but that's up to you. If you can get some taller bars off a friend to try out, that'd probably be the easiest way to figure how much taller is comfortable.

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5/16/2017 6:15 PM

21" TT with a topload and 9.5" bars and no issues at all . I remember having stock 8.25 and fuck me that sucked haha.

For real just get something above 9" or even 9.25" and give it time , honestly I'd rather deal with having a slightly weirder set up but having a better back then being stubborn and fucking it up for something as little as bar height

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5/16/2017 6:43 PM

I've walked out of doctors offices before. Support me or fuck off.

Go with the tall as fuck bars you want to get. See if a dramatic change does anything. Give it some time though cause such a big change is going to change how all of your upper body muscles move so you may get discomfort from that for the first few weeks.

You can always sell 'em and get smaller ones. Harder to sell smaller bars these days, it seems.

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5/16/2017 7:26 PM

Thanks for the input everyone, I think I'm gonna flip my stem and see what that feels like. I measured it and it looks to give me a bar rise of about 9.35", not too far off from 9.5" so if I like that I'll go with some 9.5"s (or 9.35" if I can find some I like), if I feel like they could stand to be a tad taller I'll go with the 9.75"

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5/16/2017 8:08 PM

vck wrote:

Screw that second doctor. And the longer frame wouldn't make you hunch over the more infact it would decrease the hunch. ...more

sundaybmxRR wrote:

Really? cause I feel like it would since the bars are a tiny bit more away than usual but idk haha that's why I asked.

BB ...more

I hate doctors like that. I'm 41 and have broken my back in past and right now I have twisted pelvis. All my doctor said was not to try anything for bit until my back is sorted out with my chiro. It's almost there. Strengthening your core is a good way to keep you back from getting messed up but it's hard to do when your back is messed up. It's good way to work on your core is balancing on curbs, fallen trees. logs on the beach etc. Keeping your balance on something like that is really good core strengthening and low impact.

A good stretch for you lower back is to sit in a hard chair with your butt flat and your back straight up against the back of the chair put your ankle from you right leg on your left knee and try to push you right knee down. You can press a little with your hand but don't force it. Do it a few times on both sides. It really helps my lower back Hopefully you can sort it out.

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5/16/2017 8:46 PM

sundaybmxRR wrote:

My lower back's been hurting again lately, it started up again around the time when I got my new frame which is 1/4" longer ...more

I'm a personal trainer and have a degree in kinesiology (muscle and structure). I deal with stuff like this every day.

1- The reasoning for the doctor saying you should consider giving up BMX is likely due to your answers to questions that you are asked. Stuff like "when did you first notice that pain". If you mentioned your bike, then the 1st thing a doctor will think is that it is stressing that area and causes the issue. Common sense reply is stop doing what causes your pain.

2- You do need to stay off the bike for about 3 days. That will allow the muscles to relax and should stop the pain. But, I'm getting to the good stuff so I highly recommend 3 days to rest it.

3- Take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation of the muscle and ease pain.

4- Take hot baths and showers for the 3 days you won't ride. 2 a day is good and it works well for soothing muscles.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, here is how to go about fixing the issues. You said you got a slightly longer frame and your back started acting up more than it has been. Reason, as you figured out. The frame is too long and the constant stretch is centered around the lower back. Other than buying a new frame that is shorter, a shorter stem will help some. Still, stretching like that all the time puts your back into a position that leads to pain. Now, I'm not sure of how old you are. With luck your still growing and you will get to the point that the frame fits your height. If not a shorter stem is about all you can do to the bike to help your back. Unless you get a different frame.

That was the bike part, this is the your body part. Stretching helps, but not to the point where it will be enough to stop the pain. I am going to write a short program for you and follow it exactly as written. Even after the back isn't bothering you much, still do it 1-2 times a week. Strong core muscles help a ton with riding (spins, hops, airs, gaps, and more) all get better and easier with a strong core. Plus, girls love abs lol a win win situation.

Mon/Wed/Fri are now workout days. Tues/Thurs are stretching days.

Workout:
Crunches- do 30/40/50 and make sure you flex your abs at the top.

Superman- 5 times hold for 20-30 seconds (Ill google a picture)

Burpies- 2 sets of 20 they will target the back, arms and legs. So you get a decent workout with them.

Good morning- 3 sets of 8 pure low back here, light weight and go slowly.

Everything but the good morning requires no weight. If you don't have weights you can put like 10 cans in a bag for weight. After a few weeks you will have a much stronger back and it should stop bothering you in 1-2 weeks.

Stretching

Jog in place for 3min to get the blood flowing and muscles warm before you stretch!

Standing toe touch- 5 times and hold it at the bottom for a 10 count.

Seated toe touch- same as above

Side to side twist- 3 sets of 10 each time you go 1 time to each side that is 1. Total of 10.

NEVER stretch before you ride! It is proven that it can lead to very small muscle tears because it is done to cold tissue. Instead, do a few jumping jacks, running in place and start slow on the ride to let the muscles warm up.

In 2 months max you will see better bike control and little if any pain. Message me if you have questions I'm happy to help.

Good Luck

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5/16/2017 9:29 PM

Gack2000 wrote:

I'm a personal trainer and have a degree in kinesiology (muscle and structure). I deal with stuff like this every day.

1- ...more

Holy hell haha thanks for the long detailed replied, really appreciate it. I figured as much that the doctor assumed bmx was to blame cause of the questions she asked. While bmx isn't the best thing for your body, I don't think it's what fucked my back up initially.

I'm 24, probably done growing haha I'm about 5'8" with the 20.75" TT frame which I've been told is about right for my height.


As for the program you wrote, I'm definitely gonna add that into what I currently do. I've been dealing with back issues since around this time 2014, I actually have a herniated disc (l5 s1) and core strengthening & stretching fixed me up, no issues until around when I got my new frame BUT I also around that time I stopped doing my exercises for about 2 weeks straight due to personal issue/lack of motivation... so I'm not sure if that's to blame instead. The pain's definitely not anywhere near what it was when it started thankfully, but it's not pleasant either.

Right now I currently already do my workouts every other day, same days you listed. I do planks (5 for 10 seconds, 4 for 10 seconds, 3 for 10, 2 for 10, 1 for 10) cause I read that somewhere awhile back helps gain muscle there the fastest, then side planks for 10 seconds each side for a couple reps, then bridge again for 10 seconds each. Stretches are just hamstring and cobra stretches though.


I have a few questions about your program though... I've heard/read that crunches/sit ups are bad for your lower back especially if you have a herniated disc like I do. plus I think that's what fucked my back up to begin with cause a couple weeks before it started all those years ago, I tried working out some and doing a bunch of sit ups. Same with the standing toe touch, I mean my doctor had me bend over and touch my toes to see if it caused pain (it didn't), but I've also read that that's not really good for the lower back so I'm wondering if I should still do them or cut them out? Either way, the rest of the stuff you listed I'm definitely gonna look up to make sure I do them properly and add them to my current routine. Thanks again! Really helpful answer, awesome to get some bmx specific advise for my back finally haha

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5/16/2017 9:31 PM

CHILDISHGAMBINO wrote:

I hate doctors like that. I'm 41 and have broken my back in past and right now I have twisted pelvis. All my doctor said was ...more

I always lie in bed or on the floor and do that stretch you listed, but just tried the way you said and it feels like it gives a much better stretch so I'm adding that to my routine as well. Thanks for the reply!

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5/16/2017 10:00 PM

I had back surgery.

Bikram yoga helped 100% after surgery.

I also have a bosu ball that I use.

for me, my core is super strong. It's the muscles around it, including my leg muscles, that get super tight and cause tension on my back. Keeping my leg muscles, including my calves, loose, is the key for me.

As for your new bike being too long, you're body is now in a new position. It will get used to it eventually but I'd get taller bars so you're not stretched out so much.

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5/16/2017 10:11 PM

I was having back pain from riding for a little while. Probably because i run 7.75" bob bars, but i love them too much to get bigger bars again. Might have to step back up to some big fours but i feel like i shouldn't have to deal with this problem when i'm only 17...anyway the pain just kinda went away for the most part. Some days it comes back for a little bit but usually goes away once i warm up.

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5/16/2017 10:22 PM

blaaaaaaaaa wrote:

I was having back pain from riding for a little while. Probably because i run 7.75" bob bars, but i love them too much to get ...more

And I thought my bars were small haha. shitty thing is, it can happen at any age. mine started at the age of 14 and I got sciatica real bad but it all went away with some stretching.

but yeah mine usually gets tolerable after warming up. I just have to stay away from higher hops which sucks

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5/16/2017 10:24 PM

pnj wrote:

I had back surgery.

Bikram yoga helped 100% after surgery.

I also have a bosu ball that I use.

for me, my core is super ...more

I'll have to look into that, I'll try anything to stay ahead of it at this point.

but yeah I think I'm gonna pull the trigger on bigger bars soon. I flipped my stem earlier to give some extra rise so I'll see how that feels and go from there

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5/17/2017 12:05 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/17/2017 12:07 AM

My back began to hurt around a year ago in small time frames as well. I'd say a few times a month it'd flare up a bit. This was when when I ran 8.5" bars and a frontload stem for around a year and a half. After that, I moved to a top load, which relieved some pain, but it was back again after a few months or so.

Now that I've got 10" bars in addition to my topload, and a Stevie Churchill spacer with my headset, I've had zero issues. It was a noticeable comfort improvement every time I hopped on for a session. I have a 20.5" frame. But everyone's different, and only time will tell. Regardless of what a doctor says, though, I think taller bars will alleviate at least some pain.

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5/17/2017 2:34 AM

Obviously bar height is personal preference, but I just want to make my point again how much tall bars can affect how your bike rides. If my back hurt from how my bars are now, I'd quit. I'd rather not ride than ride a bike I don't like the feel of.
Bear in mind, I'm 6' tall, with a 21.125 tt, a front load, 9" bars and about 10mm stack height on my headset. I'm going lower with my bars because I much prefer the feel of it.
You could just take a break when your back hurts. I mean, riding your bike from spot to spot is completely different to how your bike feels when you're actually riding it. I'm not going to commute on my bike anymore because it makes my shoulders ache. But when actually riding I'm fine

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5/17/2017 2:22 PM

sundaybmxRR wrote:

Thanks for the input everyone, I think I'm gonna flip my stem and see what that feels like. I measured it and it looks to give ...more

Cult AK bars 9, 9.35, 9 65 12backsweep 2 up. 29.5 wide

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5/17/2017 3:01 PM

sundaybmxRR wrote:

My lower back's been hurting again lately, it started up again around the time when I got my new frame which is 1/4" longer ...more

Gack2000 wrote:

I'm a personal trainer and have a degree in kinesiology (muscle and structure). I deal with stuff like this every day.

1- ...more

sundaybmxRR wrote:

Holy hell haha thanks for the long detailed replied, really appreciate it. I figured as much that the doctor assumed bmx was ...more

Do the stretches with something like a pillow under your lower back. It will keep the natural curve to your back and should not cause any issues.

Crunches depends on how you do them. You really only have to come up to a point that you have your shoulders 2" maybe 3" off the ground. Going up much farther takes the stress of your abs. You can even test to see how far you need to go. Put a hand on your abs and crunch up. You will feel the abs tighten up and once you get to a certain point (everyone is different) you will notice they relax. No point going to the relaxed point. If they are not under load then they are not doing anything for the abs. Put a pillow (foam roller is perfect if you have one) to keep the arch in your low back.

On the foam roller, if you have or can get one, it will be your best friend. Takes a few times to get use to it but they really can help loosen up muscles. And not just in the back, anywhere. I use mine 4-5 days a week for back, arms, shoulders and I feel the difference now compared to when I didn't have one. I got mine at Walmart for like $15.00. To learn how to use it, search on YouTube. It would take me awhile to try to explain what 1 5min video will show.

I HIGHLY recommend a foam roller to anyone who rides. You can use it for legs, arms, shoulders, back, chest, calves...anything. And not only will it help you with sore or tight muscles, but if you workout it can help stretch the muscle belly to help aid muscle growth. Plus it increases blood flow, so if you workout it will help you not get as sore and get fresh blood into the muscles and that is a big key for growth and recovery

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5/17/2017 3:06 PM

Rollers are where its at. Had the same back problem and only 15. after every ride i would use it but mostly on my back.

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