Lower Back Issues


Nov 9, 2005
So back in January of 2008 I set out on a fitness journey to conquer a 50 lb weight loss goal of mine. Over the course of my twenties I slowly put on weight from a sedentary job, from stress, and from eating like I was 18. :disgust1: In May of 2008 I conquered this goal, primarily thanks to MTB'n. You can read about what I did here to further detail this journey if you are interested in learning more. (www.JoshReam.info).

That being said, I'm posting today because I've noticed a developing issue with my lower back. Because I was mtn biking 3-4 times a week and weight training twice a week, I began to develop some pain in my lower back. I called my sister who's an occupational therapist (same thing as a PT, just works with job rehabilitation to get people back to work) and she informed me that my cycling muscles were probably becoming stronger than the counter balance of my core muscles. This supposively causes them to pull on my lower back muscles I guess.

I'm posting to see if there are any atheletes(pro or homebread alike) on this board that are familiar with this issue caused by cycling, and what you might suggest for either training these counter balance muscles, or, stretching in order to aleviate this pull. The pain got so bad after every ride that I've stopped riding to give my body some time to recoup. But, because of the holidays, and no cycling time, I've gained 5 lbs again. I don't want to start creeping back up, so any info would be much appreciated!


Turbo Monkey
Mar 18, 2002
G14 Classified
I went through a rough stretch with back pain and came out of it a better man. I was doing one leg squats at the gym (with too much weight...hindsight) and "tweaked" something. The pain was horrible and kept me from doing much of anything for a few months. After a ton of research and reading, along with some trial and error, I found out what worked for me.

The lower back (lumbar spine) needs stability, not flexibility. If you look at any cyclist on a bike, you can see this being a problem. Normal riding posture leaves the lower back curved, in flexion. Throw in exertion and you doing something that no doctor or PT would ever have you do: put force through a curved lower back.

My pain was solved by 1) starting a strength training program with a focus on the posterior chain (calves, hams, glutes, back), 2) shortening my bike cockpits ever-so-slightly, and 3) getting out of the saddle enough to give my lower back a rest.

Back pain has been discussed at length at my local board. The post by Denmother halfway down lists some of our posts about the topic.



Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
I just went through a bout of lower back pain and found out that my sacroiliac jointwas out of place. A few visits to the Chiro to put it back into place and work on some stability exercises for my routine and I am feeling GREAT.


Turbo Monkey
Aug 25, 2002
Hangin' with Riggs and Mertah
Lower back issues. I have had them. There are two things I've encountered about cycling that can contribute to lower back pain and then become aggravated by heavy lifting or going to the gym. First your hydration system perhaps you recently purchased a new one. Well that little buckle that straps the lower part to your belly keeps it from pounding your lower back. That little strap will prevent alot of agony and hot tub visits. Secondly orthotics. Yes what your feet rest on provides support that goes up the body to the lower back. Yes proper bone alignment is something that appears to be missing for alot of riders and people who exercise. Yes it could be because of your footwear.



Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
A good point was brought up: make sure your cockpit is upright enough. The time of flat bars and 135mm stems is gone (unless you're an XC racer on an 8 year old bike). Get a decent rise bar and a short stem and you'll be way more comfortable and be able to ride longer.

Deadlifts are a great way to strengthen your lower back as well as your core at the same time. Start low, and work your way up. Focus on olympic style lifts and stability movements. Forget the weight machines and use free weights or dumbells exclusively. There are a lot of exercises that can be done more efficiently with a little research. For example, the leg press is worthless without the squat, and the lat pulldown is no match for the chinup. You may have to drop some weight, start lower, perfect your form and work up. There's no shame in lifting a light weight PERFECTLY.

Lastly, pick up a foam roller and roll out your muscles. Any time my back is acting up, I lay on that thing, roll up and down, and the next day I'm back to normal. I love that sucker. A swiss ball is nice to lay back on and remove compression as well.