Old Guy Back Questions

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5/7/2021 6:57 AM

I’ll start off by saying this: I am 6’ 190lbs and 40yo. I stay in pretty good shape by working out, eat pretty healthy and do stretches/yoga with my daughter. I’ve played contact sports (lacrosse/ice hockey) since 3rd grade, including Division 1 college lacrosse. From there I went straight into Marine Corps infantry until I got out in 2007.
My back has always taken a beating but I have never had back problems.

Yesterday I was doing nothing but hops and manuals for a couple hours. During a manual my lower back just gave out (like failed). I was not bucking/dry-humping, but simply arching my back. Since I was a kid I never went to parks and the majority of my tricks/riding style is “street”. So here are my questions:

1. How has age (getting older) affected your riding style?
2. The only reason I spin now is to ride fakie (which I like doing). 360s and 180s is a lot less appealing and they are tricks that I don’t really do anymore. Has anyone else phased these out or ride more linearly?
3. This is not a slight against flatlanders, but asked purely out of ignorance: is flatland more joint/muscle/bone friendly?

I’m not going to stop riding, but for the past couple years have really felt the physical impact of progression. I love jumping over stuff and the challenge/fun/peace attained from riding BMX. Any recommendations to change things up?

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5/7/2021 7:01 AM

I rarely do 180s now. Mostly because landing on my arse is not as fun as it was 20 years ago. I just potter about now playing around. I don't have back problems but I got everything else problems. Arthritis in my hands and knees, and a shoulder that seems it is headed in the same direction.

Flatland is no easier. In fact, they probably fall a lot more. Learning flatland tricks involves a lot more falling. Though if you are good at it? then yes, I would say it's a touch easier than flying through the air.

I've never ridden with pads ever. The last bad fall I had I went out and bought a load, but I kinda concluded that if I had to ride in pads that I was maybe too old to be doing daft stuff. Was hard, but I suppose it happens to every one. Like I said, I still potter about but I haven't been very kind to myself so now I mainly restore mid school bikes and build them, and collect. Pretty much anything new school or mid school.

I wasn't a fan of old school bmx. Even though I am 47 and rode one most of my childhood.

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5/7/2021 7:23 AM

Paul Osicka was an incredible flatland rider and eventually had to step away from the sport due to a bad back. Flatland uses a lot of static and isometric strength to maintain positions for a long time and to control the bike/balance. Less dynamic effort than hopping when riding street but flatlanders are almost always leaning over with a rounded back for longer periods of time.

If you're exercising and your diet is on point like you claim then really there's not a lot else you can do beyond raising/lowering your bars or getting a frame with a short top tube to see if it makes a difference. Maybe try to focus on back strengthening to make that area a little more resistant injury. If you aren't doing some kind of hip hinge(reverse hyper, deadlift variations, hip thrust/bridging) then you may be selling yourself short. The tilt of your pelvis can affect how your back feels too. Like most people in the modern world you've probably got excessive anterior tilt. In short: try to stretch your hip flexors/quads and then strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and abs. You also may need to prioritize recovery since you're getting older. Old dudes can still perform at a high level but not day in and day out like we did in our 20's.

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5/7/2021 7:34 AM

I'm also 40, 6', don't have a clue what my weight is. I eat healthy sometimes, get very little exercise, and probably drink and smoke too much. I've always been fairly cautious when riding, never really one to send big stuff without building up to it. I was probably in my prime a couple of years ago as I rode a lot more and my imagination was at its peak.
I stopped for nearly a year, and am struggling to get back old stuff. Some of it is technique, where I just don't do it the same as I used to, and some of it is having smaller testicles. But I relearned a trick yesterday that I've always found a bit on the scary side. And was learning g turns.
My back aches, but that's from work. I've got ligament and cartilage damage in both knees, arthritis in my left hand, and dodgy hips that have always been a problem. I slammed hard and scorpioned pretty badly when I was younger, but have never really had problems with my back.
I'm riding 8.75 bars and a frontload too.
The best thing about getting older and not wanting to get hurt is it increases your imagination, which is great for street. I find it makes me think harder about what I can do at a spot. Being pegless definitely adds to that too. I can't just go to a ledge spot and try grinds. So I tend to do weird stuff. As long as I'm enjoying pedalling my bike, I'll keep doing it though. I've actually got loads of ideas for little edits, and spots I'm planning on hitting soon.

Just think more about what you can do. Less about what you can't. Limitation breeds creativity

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5/7/2021 7:47 AM

I had back surgery about 14 months ago for a herniated disc L4/L5. It sounds to me like you might have a slipped disc, not necessarily herniated yet. There are ways to alleviate such an issue, and things you can do to prevent it from getting worse. The stretching and Yoga is definitely good to keep up on. My whole life is basically constantly stretching now; AM stretch routine before work, getting up and walking/stretching multiple times throughout the day, and then PM stretching routine in the evening at home. Combining all that with lots of core strengthening exercises seems to help. Planks, Bridges, knee raises, and certain yoga poses etc.

I'm feeling pretty good now, and I'm back to doing spins/360's etc. Def a little more cautious now while I am still healing but I am hoping to get back to pretty close to 100%.

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5/7/2021 9:32 AM

I never go to the doctor. I mean, I do, but something has to be REALLY WRONG.

I broke 3 bones in my foot and waited a week because , "it might just be a sprain"

I tore 2.5 of 3 tendons in my shoulder and waited 3 days because I knew what the injury was (I know ten people that have had the same injury), I only went to the doctor because my chest started gurgling. Turns out I put a hole in my lung too. I broke my helmet on that crash so was pretty concussed.

I am pretty well used to high levels of pain.

That said, I have had 3 back surgeries and legit will never pedal a bike again. maybe, in a bunch of years down the road I will be able to sit up and pedal a city cruiser type bike.

My last surgery was eight months ago and the nerve in my back was cutting off most of the signals to my leg, making me paralyzed on my lower left leg. and the pain was OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Find a sports medical doctor if you can.

I have had a lot of physical therapy over the years and like anything, it can sometimes take a long time to find a good one. I've had the ones telling me "no pain , no gain" and they are actually making my back worse.

My point is, be very cautious and away of what is going on in your back. Mine went from , "hmmm, my back kind of hurts.." to "i can't fucking walk and the pain levels are out of control". quickly. that was 2006 for my first surgery.

It also took THREE YEARS after my first surgery to be able to get back on a bike again.

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5/7/2021 10:09 AM

All, thx for the feedback. This is a rough sport and I am used to just sucking it up and not whining like a pussy. I think it hit home yesterday when I could barely walk and playing catch with my daughter was agony. Lying down on a hard floor and stretching feels great, but I think I’m going to take a break for a week and recover. Since the weather has gotten better in the Philly area I have been riding at least an hour/day...which in retrospect is a lot of time smashing into concrete.

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5/7/2021 10:18 AM

vagabond wrote:

All, thx for the feedback. This is a rough sport and I am used to just sucking it up and not whining like a pussy. I think it ...more

Yea give your body some time to adjust and recover. Heat pads are good, massage chairs if you have access. My local Planet Fitness has those hydro-massage chairs where you can adjust the range and intensity on the touch-screen. It's brought me relief when it was feeling particularly bad. Another thing to consider if you haven't is getting a back brace, even a cheap contractor's brace from Lowes for like $15 will help. Not something to wear 24/7 (could actually hinder core strength if worn to much) but on bad days it'll help.

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5/7/2021 2:23 PM

1. I reread some of the comments here. I guess in general I’ve been pretty lucky with no surgeries. Pnj, that crash sound rough...broke your fuckin helmet?
2. Even if I dial back the risk factor on my style of riding, I’m still trying to find ways to switch things up. I am used to doing or attempting the things that I used to do 20 years ago...would love to ride with pegless (or any of you all) and just fuck around
3. ACBMX sounds like your non-BMX activity mirrors a lot of mine. I’ve become the defacto BMX guy in my neighborhood, always with a neighbor kid bike or one of my daughter’s friends bike getting worked on/fixed, especially during the summer. During COVID I also really got into speculating and collecting components on the cheap and then reselling for a profit. In some cases if a kid had a broken part and couldn’t ride I would just indefinitely “loan” them a part so they could get back on the streets.

It’s funny watching a 10 year old try to bunny-hop (and fail) with their Walmart bike, but suddenly they know how to get six inches off the ground because of their borrowed Hoder grips...I guess the first step in acting the part is looking the part.

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5/7/2021 6:23 PM

Hey dude, I'm not a medical professional, so always consult help before doing any wacky crap anyone suggests. I did get PT for my back issues and its doing great these days. I'm actually in better shape now than when I was in if you can imagine that.

When I got out I started having back issues aswell, but it was because i went from being on my feet to living a more sedentary lifestyle going from grunt to engineer. I also bulged a disc during squats that only seemed to get worse even though I was in great shape. The problem was all the sitting was actually weakening my glutes and core, even though I had good gym strength. I needed to do things like reverse hypers, ghds, nordics and other things that engage my glutes, low back and abs and noticed a huge difference. I still do these as preventative care 2-3x a week, and they may help you too.

semper fi, brutha

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5/7/2021 6:57 PM

WorseThanYou wrote:

Hey dude, I'm not a medical professional, so always consult help before doing any wacky crap anyone suggests. I did get PT for ...more

Semper fi man, and thx. I think the most in shape I’ve ever been was in the Marines. Not pull-up bar/running short/garrison shape (although my PFT scores were always between 280-290)...but super wiry, flexible, pound-for-pound combat ready shape during deployments.

Again, I’ve never had back issues so any pain to me on this part of my body is unfamiliar. When I came back from riding yesterday it really hurt but I could still fight through it. Today I stupidly tried to pick up something heavy and irritated it to the point where it now hurts to breathe when I am standing. I actually have an appointment with the doc on Monday. My wife isn’t used to seeing me hurt like this and wants me to get an MRI, but I’ll see what the doc says.

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5/7/2021 8:24 PM

MostlyBowlDoggin wrote:

Paul Osicka was an incredible flatland rider and eventually had to step away from the sport due to a bad back. Flatland uses a ...more

Really good advice here. My back was bugging me this year and I have had some luck stretching the hip flexors and and strengthening the core and posterior chain.

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5/8/2021 7:32 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/8/2021 9:47 AM

vagabond wrote:

Semper fi man, and thx. I think the most in shape I’ve ever been was in the Marines. Not pull-up bar/running short/garrison ...more

To put things in perspective, 80% of low back injuries are musculoskeletal and typically take 2-4 weeks to heal. So the guy posting earlier in the thread telling you that you've got a herniated disk isn't painting a very realistic situation. You're still in the very acute stages of inflammation so it's going to be painful. If you're having weakness in one or both legs and radicular pain shooting down from your butt to your feet then sure, you might have some disc involvement compressing one of your peripheral nerves.

There are tons of deep and small intrinsic muscles of the back and straining even the smallest ones will make you feel like you're crippled. By the time your insurance agrees to pay for the MRI(assuming you're using VA benefits which may require you to try conservative treatment like physical therapy prior to authorization) you'll probably be well on your way to being fully recovered. If you're still in excruciating pain in a month or two after resting/physical therapy then the MRI is probably a good idea.

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5/8/2021 9:06 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/8/2021 9:16 PM

Good question OP. I'm 46 and big difference between now and when I was a kid riding , is then I felt invincible and didn't care about getting hurt. Also, I noticed that when I do get hurt, it takes me a lot longer to heal. Messed up my wrist riding 6 months ago and its just fully healing up now! I won't take crazy chances. I practice mainly flatland because besides my age, it's what I grew up with anyway and is the most style that is near and dear to me. I would 100% say the flatland style is "less risky" then these big jumps/airs that these youngsters do nowadays.

But, sometimes you can get hurt from the simplest and dumbest thing. As far as joints go, yes I would say flatland is a lot friendlier than say really big drops or gaps because I'm sure the sudden impact your body absorbs from the drops does take its toll eventually. In flatland though, you need a lot of balance and agility. I work full time and have financial responsiblities. So I'm not trying to jump on roofs or do borderline suicidal shit. I just feel blessed to be able to ride Bmx at my age. I did have back pain when I was heavier, but I haven't anymore since I lost 15 lbs.

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5/8/2021 9:51 PM

Vic707b wrote:

Good question OP. I'm 46 and big difference between now and when I was a kid riding , is then I felt invincible and didn't ...more

Was thinking about it more today and since I got back into BMX I have been hitting it really hard almost like I’m racing against a finite window where I can still ride really aggressively...ironically, the risks I have been taking over the past couple years have likely been reducing the size of that window.

I think that I have always associated riding with taking more risks, or else, what’s the point? In retrospect, that is flawed logic. Whether I am hopping stairs or just riding around my neighborhood, I love riding, and doing less of the former prolongs my ability to ride my bike. Relearning how to 180/360 was fun but tbh, it is not as enjoyable as it used to be when I was younger. The last bar spin I did successfully was maybe a year ago. I learned how to do it and would practice a couple every session, but after over-rotating and catching the bar end in my sack I was just not into it at all...especially when it hurt to even sit down on my bike for like two weeks afterwards.

Basically I think I just need to relax and not put so much pressure on myself to progress as if I was 20. I don’t have anything to prove except to myself, and I am pretty comfortable with my riding.

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5/9/2021 9:49 AM

Vic707b wrote:

Good question OP. I'm 46 and big difference between now and when I was a kid riding , is then I felt invincible and didn't ...more

vagabond wrote:

Was thinking about it more today and since I got back into BMX I have been hitting it really hard almost like I’m racing ...more

This first paragraph is exactly how I felt for the past few years. It stopped on the morning of my 40th, like a mental switch, and everything became "for the first time in my 40's", almost like being reborn I guess.
No one's going to expect us to ride at the level we did in our 20's. But I know how disheartening it is knowing what you could do. That's what started changing my riding style when I got back into riding about 8 years ago. I just struggled with mental blocks and everything seemed like hard work. So I went back to basics and spent a lot of time just pissing about riding kerbs and stuff.
That gave me my current outlook on street riding. Literally everything can be a spot. Everything can be ridden. So even if I ride the same spots I have for years, I try to find new ways to ride them. I basically only do bumpjumps, manuals and pedal slides now, but find a way to combo them or make a line.

I swear skateparks and perfect spots breed the most boring riding

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5/10/2021 5:36 AM

vagabond wrote:

I’ll start off by saying this: I am 6’ 190lbs and 40yo. I stay in pretty good shape by working out, eat pretty healthy and do ...more

I am 35, and unfortunately for me, pretty overweight.

1. How has age (getting older) affected your riding style? I get nutty WAY less often. I used to toss truckdrivers, whips, bars and all kinds of other stuff every session I had a place to fire them off. I RARELY fire out a truckdriver or whip now. Barspins are less common for me too. I tend to flow around, hop some stuff, manual and mess around in the bowl at my sort of local park.

2. The only reason I spin now is to ride fakie (which I like doing). 360s and 180s is a lot less appealing and they are tricks that I don’t really do anymore. Has anyone else phased these out or ride more linearly? Yes, I still 180 frequently for things, but I rarely hop a 360 anymore-more just for random things here or there on stuff. I tend to start and stop going forward the most.

3. This is not a slight against flatlanders, but asked purely out of ignorance: is flatland more joint/muscle/bone friendly? I could see this going either way. Your risk of large falls is lower, but your risk of landing on the bike in a fall is higher. As to muscle/joint friendly, I could see repetition causing issue more than a sudden strain. (I don't really ride flatland anymore, but started with it). My legs got tired after scuffing constantly trying to figure out front yards. My arms never really got too tired though-but I was also not getting wild like the flatlanders out there.

Any recommendations to change things up? I changed my bike setup to accommodate any issues. When my back was bad, I put brakes on to avoid loop outs-sometimes front brakes too for more "low to the ground/stall" options. I also stopped manualing for a bit when my knee would lock up. 4 pegs on occasion too. I have all the stuff laying around-so it is just a little time to set stuff up. Currently I run a straight cable and two pegs.

I was messing with relearning sprocket grinds on a like 16" ledge and some flyouts last session-I typically spend around an hour or two riding, so I make sure I am just having fun. That is the goal at this point-even if it is just some stupid little curb trick. If it is fun, I am down. Next session I plan to take the sprocket grind down a low ledge that is barely sloped. I want to get barspin to manuals back. I used to have those DIALED and I can do the bar to manual better than just a straight bar. I'd love to get 180 bars and trucks back too. Maybe a whip if I ride enough to get that nutty.

For my lower back issues, I looked up some stretches for lower backs-and have a few that almost always alleviate the issues as they start or even before they kick off.

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"Hey anybody ever make that mistake like right when you wake up in the morning and you believe in yourself?" -Kyle Kinane

"BIKES!" -Tom Segura

5/10/2021 7:20 AM

Went to the doc and got x-rayed. Apparently I tore my thoracolumbar fascia or the connective tissue between the muscles and my spine. The doc said treat it like a muscle tear and rest this week but then I can should start rehabbing next week. I’m just thankful it’s not spine/disc related.

Thx all for your comments/recommendations.

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5/10/2021 7:43 AM

Coming up on 45, 6"4" and like 250lbs. Recovery time just takes longer the older I get. I actually typically avoid riding back to back days so I get recovery time between or if I ride back to back do a easy day the 2nd day. I got a few nagging injuries, partly torn MCL/PCL in my knee, small tear in my left shoulder and stage 3 AC separation in my right that was rehabbed without surgery. Along with a a pile of little back annoyances.

When I saw a PT for my shoulder he worked with me not just to recover but to strengthen my core. As much riding as I was doing my core wasn't really strong just certain muscles were which actually made things worst. He had me on a plan to strengthen my entire core so I'd be better in the long run. I'd say coming off that injury I was in my best shape ever. I stuck with it for quiet some time before getting lazy. My back bothered me less then than ever.

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5/10/2021 8:14 AM

vagabond wrote:

Went to the doc and got x-rayed. Apparently I tore my thoracolumbar fascia or the connective tissue between the muscles and my ...more

Not the sort of thing to thumbs up, because it's still an injury - but that's relatively good news as far as these things go.

Keep safe - and that goes for everyone else too, even the ones who hate me wink

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5/10/2021 8:44 AM

Sounds like all these old guys could use some steroids

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5/10/2021 9:01 AM

eskimojay wrote:

Sounds like all these old guys could use some steroids

Maybe not steroids, but the doc gave me a whole bunch of Flexirall which I haven’t taken since I was deployed...looking forward to my last meeting so I can pop some of those guys.

Always mocked Icy Hot/muscle rubs until this weekend. Xtra Strength Tiger Balm felt like I was rubbing heroin on my back.

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5/10/2021 9:12 AM

eskimojay wrote:

Sounds like all these old guys could use some steroids

agreed

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5/10/2021 9:16 AM

I waited to reply since I’m a newb bmx’r but at 46 I have back issues as well , stay in shape and keep good core strength , stretch on the regular and listen to your body. I also try not to eat shit as that really hurts nowadays. I’m thankful I can still play this crazy game and find progression because one day it will all be over I just hope I’m in my seventies by then ,but there are no guarantees so enjoy every session bro’s!

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5/10/2021 11:25 AM

eskimojay wrote:

Sounds like all these old guys could use some steroids

Steroids are for pussies. Man up and get on with it

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5/10/2021 12:02 PM

eskimojay wrote:

Sounds like all these old guys could use some steroids

.pegless. wrote:

Steroids are for pussies. Man up and get on with it

Woah all that rage and you aren’t even on the roids yet , settle down grandpasteve

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5/10/2021 2:31 PM

.pegless. wrote:

Steroids are for pussies. Man up and get on with it

Lol, tell that to Nasty and Jamie Bestwick.

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5/10/2021 4:10 PM

46, three knee operations (ACL, MCL, etc) and a totaly severed Achilles tendon before I was 20. I've worked in forestry for 26 years and walk a shit ton 5 days a week year round.

If/when I start feeling old, I'm not gonna tell myself about it, fuck that shit..

Besides...

You're never too old to act immature!

Drive it like you stole it, brakes are for mortals!

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5/10/2021 4:21 PM

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5/14/2021 8:27 AM

I’ve been itching to do something, so started working out yesterday. My wife insists on having an elliptical machine in our home gym...she likes it because it is really low impact/compression (she has a bad knee from playing lacrosse on college).

I have been doing an hour on it daily since Wednesday and then yoga at night with my daughter. My back is still sore, but the stretching feels great (thx again for the suggestions) and the elliptical machine actually makes me feel better, while keeping my core strong.

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