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help! lower back pain; right side only
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Hoping the collective wisdom of the Slowtwitch forum can help me solve a mystery that I have been unable to resolve for years… I.e. Lower back pain, only on the right side, on my tri bike on flat terrain.

When I cycle for more than 1- 2 hours, I get a discomfort on the right lower back (quadratus lomborum / gluteus medial or small / or potentially even tensor fascae latea) that increases as I keep on pedaling. I have tried / tested many many things:
  • · pro bike fit

  • · mucking around with my own bike fit (raised bars, sliding seat forward, raising / lowering saddle, changing saddles)

  • · shimming cleats (one side or both)

  • · changing tri bikes (including a TitanFlex)

  • · chiropractor / osteopath

  • · ultrasound on the hips / MRI on the spine

  • · Other stuff which I don’t remember…etc, etc.


What is bizarre, is that this discomfort is substantially less / virtually non-existent, when I am climbing with the tri bike in the aerobars.

I am clueless on what the answer could be… having tried just about everything that comes to mind. Any thoughts on what the culprit could be and what could be a solution???

Thanks in advance

Eric
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [ejd_mil] [ In reply to ]
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What did the chiropractor have to say?


Have you ever had a functional movement screening?

Do you foam roll your glutes?

Travis Rassat
Vector Cycle Works
Noblesville, IN
BikeFit Instructor | FMS | F.I.S.T. | IBFI
Toughman Triathlon Series Ambassador
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [ejd_mil] [ In reply to ]
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Sciatica. See a Dr, not a chiropractor.




who's smarter than you're? i'm!
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [ejd_mil] [ In reply to ]
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I've dealt with this for years. Learned (during a bike fit) a couple of years ago that my right side is not as flexible as my left. Shoulders, hip, glute, knee, everything -- I'm even "shorter" on my right side, sort of cattywampus. This despite years of stretching and yoga. My fitter speculated that my years as a port rower in high school and college did "something" -- hours and hours and hours stretching my left side more than my right while I was still growing ... typing it out makes it sound flaky but there it is.

Anyway, I've learned to deal with it. I'll get off the bike to stretch, will stretch morning and night, use heating pads when the pain is bad. And lots of core work. That seems to help more than anything. I've also learned that I have to be fit to my right side. My left side will adapt, my right side won't. I can go months without pain, and then wham! Long car drives or plane trips make it worse.

Good luck. Back pain can be so many things. Mine got particularly bad after my son was born, and I had a few fitters and doctors tell me that it just part of pregnancy and giving birth and that I was going to have to live with it. Oh-kay.
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [ejd_mil] [ In reply to ]
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Sounds like your seat may be too high for your right side. You may not experience the pain when climbing because you are shortening the reach as you move further up the saddle to generate power.
You could try to use a shim under the impacted leg or lower the saddle a couple of mm.
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [ejd_mil] [ In reply to ]
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Chances are good that you have back pain in the non-triathlete parts of your life. The bike, due to position and increased force, are just amplifying your problem. My guess (and what is most typical) is that your back pain is caused from a flexed position in sitting and bending. You should find a mckenzie credentialed physical therapist and get treated. Once your back pain is gone and you maintain exercises, you will find that riding is fine! Don't subscribe to uneven hips, leg lengths, rotations, counter rotations and other stuff. Everybody in their life has some level of unequal appendages and it's normal and not pathological. Core work will not solve your problem as muscular imbalances or weakness or strengths are not your problem. My guess is you are lacking extension range of motion (going backwards) and just like any other joint if you restrict or lose flexibility you end up with pain. Take a simple approach- avoid what hurts, do what helps and stay active.
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [veganerd] [ In reply to ]
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+1

"It's Ironman - it's supposed to be hard!"

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." http://www.brucebutler.ca
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Re: help! lower back pain; right side only [Cycling nation] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks everybody!

Travis R: My chiro / osteo found that my hip and neck were totally out of line (9 months ago). Since then I have worked on tons of stretching and he can not find any issues. Yes, have done foam rolling and sports massage of the glutes – little benefit. Have done some functional movement screening – L vs R. Nothing terribly interesting…

Travis R: Have seen a Dr, as well! Not sciatica… Have tested that.

Csb: interesting… How did you find out that your Right side is less flexible, and shorter, than the left?? Maybe that is the culprit, dunno…

70Miles. I tried shimming. Didnt work! What did seem to work, temporarily and only somewhat, was putting the cleats in an asymmetric position. Right side cleats all the way to the front (i.e. decreasing “reach”) and left side on the standard setup (all the way to the back)


Calvinbal6: Yes, correct, i do have a slight discomfort in the same spot in my tri life when seated or bending! And correct, much less intense then when cycling! Why would extension ROM be a limiter when hips are in flexed position? If so, are there some stretches that could help in this regard (while I try to find a PT as you mentioned)?


Thanks everybody again!
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