Anyone ride with a knackered back?

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  • Anyone ride with a knackered back?
  • dave32
    Member

    So at the ripe old age of 35 I’ve just been been told that I have 3 degenerate discs in my lower back, encroachment on the nerve canal and facet joint arthritis(whatever that is), then got told told to basically sit on my arse for the next 40 years as I’m to young to have treatment!! Tailor your life around it was his words..So does anyone have any tips/exercises for riding with a knackered back? Have already decided to sell the HT and buy a short travel FS. Any help would be appreciated.

    hammyuk
    Member

    Yep – surgeon told me to do whatever I wanted EXCEPT road running.
    I have seven discs gone with permanent neuropathy, tremors, smashed facets, etc.
    Sitting on your arse will make it far, far worse so I’d have a chat with someone else.
    FWIW – I couldn’t walk 18th sept last year.
    I’m now back on the bike, motorbike, climbing.
    But I’m a stubborn b*stard and would rather live with the pain and modulate it than be told I can’t do something and decrease my quality of life.

    Premier Icon Tracey
    Subscriber

    Kevin has since 1987, turned down the operation. Keeps taking the pain killers and still throwing the Chameleon down the trails. Was told to pack in biking and windsurfing in the early 90s but still takes no totice.

    dave32
    Member

    Oh I’m def gonna take no notice, have sat on my arse since jan 2nd when it all started going wrong..now Monday I’ll be back on it, you do any certain exercises to loosen or strengthen?

    Premier Icon H-B
    Subscriber

    I’ve had a slipped and degenerate disk for a few years. A FS bike helped a lot (an armchair like Orange) to keep me cycling and for me being lazy made life far worse, the more exercise ( of the right sort ) I got the less pain I would have. The NHS helped a lot with various courses on how to deal with it. Even changing my driving position made a difference.

    kiddaclo
    Member

    I had the operation L5/S1 herniation as couldn’t stand up for more than 10 minutes at a time. That was 15 years ago and it still gives me grief now. Started riding a bike about 3-4 years ago and it has helped me no end.

    Post ride and next day stretches of the hamstrings and calfs make the world of difference as do short bikes, 170 cranks and rear suspension from my experience.

    Doing nothing is the worst thing I can do it always gives me grief if I’ve been sitting on my arse for a week not getting out.

    Premier Icon mos
    Subscriber

    Dad has a similar condition to the above. His solution is to graft like a navvie then have a warm bath & a load of brandy & diclofenac.

    dave32
    Member

    kiddaclo…short bikes? You mean a size smaller so your sat more upright?

    Premier Icon mttm
    Member

    Work your core. Start small, whatever you can handle, then very slowly and carefully increase it. Do it every day and start today – it might take years, but it will improve things for you. Oh, do your hamstring stretches at the same time. The core work will improve your ability to support your weight / movement, and the hamstring stretches will minimise any adverse loading caused by tension. Long term sufferer, here – these are my two “top tips” that I wish I’d known about for all of the last twenty five years.

    And keep riding! I refer to the bike* occasionally as the “alignment jig”. If I’m struggling, clipping in to the pedals, grabbing the bars and going for a spin seems to put everything back where it’s supposed to. Often the most comfortable place I can be!

    * I may have more than one 😉

    kiddaclo
    Member

    Just on the shorter side of recommended seems to work for me, where the trend seems to be going up a size if your in-between to get a longer bike I stick with the medium, and yes more upright seems to help me so I have riser bars too.

    Another thing that helped was using a close fitting backpack, the Evoc one has been really good where as the Camelback and others seem to protrude too far out putting weight on your back instead of your hips.

    Oh and I always ride with one of those neoprene belts on my lower back which gives a bit of extra support and also keeps my lowerback warm and as supple as it can be. It’s a pain in summer as you get hot but it’s definitely helped.

    dave32
    Member

    squats, planks etc mttm?

    Chiropractic realignment and core strength exercises gave me back a quality of life I never expected to have again.

    Sitting in a chair is the worst thing for me. Keeping active, and keeping my core activated is key.

    TBH, I’d be looking for a second opinion. Consultants are as variable as the rest of us.

    Edit: I have a heavy neoprene support that I used in the early days of rehabilitation when I was still unstable. It helped alot.

    I’ve managed to whittle my exercise to just two positions that give me what I need. Plank and superman. Mostly, superman does everything that plank does and more, but it’s nice to have an intermediate exercise that’s less demanding if I have a flare up.

    dave32
    Member

    Yeah def going for the 2nd opinion, just needed to calm down 1st as I left there so angry,Just got told there was nothing they could do and to deal with it myself..

    Premier Icon vondally
    Subscriber

    Yes neck and lower back.

    Keep moving, gentle exercise is better than nothing, build up slowly again, core exercises, and do not sit for too long.

    Everyone is different chiropractic did not work for me but osteopath did, alignment is important not too compensate and then damage or place strain on other parts of the body like hips knees and ankles.

    Relax on the bike and enjoy what you do,some days you will do more others less.

    Full sus is good and try different stems, saddles and bars till you get comfy.

    As above e bet a second opinion

    Premier Icon davosaurusrex
    Subscriber

    Same boat, been deteriorating for 20 years, 41 now. Stretch calf and hamstrings, core strength exercises, climb standing up (being hunched over climbing is the worst thing for me). Swimming, no running, good posture. I’ll lie on a firm sofa but won’t sit in one for more than a couple of minutes. You need to keep your lower back mobile, the worst thing you can do is nothing IME, you’ll just seize up.

    Premier Icon davosaurusrex
    Subscriber

    I spent a lot of money on chiropractors and osteopaths, given up on them now, sports massage to keep everything moving seems best. Basically you need to manage it yourself.

    I broke mine a few years ago, still gives me grief, but you just learn to deal with it.
    It’s not fun, but it hasn’t stopped me riding.
    Well, not that often, anyway.

    Premier Icon mttm
    Member

    Whatever you can do / works for you. There’s lots of other stuff, but it’s the core work that I feel most improved my stability and gave me back many of my activities. Other random tips:

    1. I use a lumbar pack rather than a back pack on the MTB.
    2. Yes, a full suspension bike really does help. I reluctantly sold my last hardtail a few years back 🙁
    3. Sitting can be bad. In work, I alternate between a normal chair (with lumbar support) and a kneeling stool. Just the – frequent – change in position helps a lot. At home, I just don’t stop in the first place 🙂
    4. Take the long view. You’re not looking at days, or even weeks – it’s months / years you should focus on. What I’m trying to say is don’t get down because things don’t improve quickly (they don’t usually), but look at the overall trend.
    5. Impact exercise is not your friend.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    Two shot discs here: L3 and L4. I try to keep fit, work on core strength, and consume lots of NSAIDs.

    I have occasional flare-ups which can knock me back for a day to several days at a time at their best, and for weeks at a time at their worst, but I see a sports physio for the latter.

    Please don’t give up on the stuff you love. As someone said above: sitting around on your arse for the next 40 years is pretty much the worst thing you can do anyway!

    Email in profile if you want more precise comment.

    It sucks, but don’t despair!

    obelix
    Member

    I’d have to agree that besides surgery there is little the consultant can do, the ball is now entirely in your court. Find a good physio who specializes in backs, such as those versed in the McKenzie method. Also, the above comments re core strengthening can’t be overstated. Your 3 staples should be the front plabnk, side plank and bird-dog (or superman). Look them up.

    Never do another sit-up!!! Worst possible movement for a posterior disc bulge, can cause it to rupture. See research by leading spinal biomechanics specialist Stuart McGill for confirmation of this. His work also includes a number of very good, if unconventional, core-strengthening exercises for when you want to take things further than planks.

    I have 4 degenerative discs, two of them were herniated (L4/L5 and L5/S1). Numbness, loss of feeling and weakness in legs. Also cauda equine syndrome, which got me to the front of the surgery list. Had double microdiscectomy in July 2014.

    Surgery was a success, as the disc-related issues have largegly cleared up. There is one side effect though: facet joint arthritis. This was due to the large amount of disc material removed during the surgery, which left the vertebra less cushioned and closer together, causing the facet joint cartilage to rub and become arthritic.

    As far as cycling goes, the natural riding position is with the spine in slight flexion, which is not good if one has a disc bulge / herniation. As mentioned, to reduce the damage caused by cycling, a soft full-suss and a shorter reach are what you must look for. Conversely, for facet joint arthritis, a position of slight flexion is a good thing, as it pulls the facet joints away from each other. However, in your present state, your disc issues should take priority over the arthritisd, so avoid flexion.

    obelix
    Member

    Just to add, a lot of back problems which result from sitting long periods / poor posture are caused by anterior pelvic tilt (APT). This results from some muscles becoming inactive and other muscles becoming tight. Main muscles which become inactive are the glutes, while the main ones which become tight are the hip flexors. Ham-strings play some role, but far less than these other muscles, and most hamstring stretches involve significant spinal flexion, so stay away from these for now, despite what many above have said. Hip flexor stretch is probably the most NB thing to do, and glute-strengthening exercises also NB. If APT is present (which is likely) just focus on these two.

    Inactivity is the worst thing you can do, as it just leads to further APT. Get a dog and go hill walking, keep on the bike, join a gym, etc etc…

    dave32
    Member

    obelix, You sound exactly like the physio I was seeing before the scan, Thats basically what he said,muscles have stopped working and I was solid in my hips and thighs. It was him who suggested the scan as every week when I went back the pain was always moving about.

    Now I know what’s wrong and I should be able to move things forwards.

    allthepies
    Member

    Herniated disc last March and didn’t ride much in 2015 following that. I’ve now actually got my ass in gear and joined a pilates class + started going for longish (7-10 mile) walks at weekends. These have helped substantially and I can feel myself getting stronger each week.

    obelix
    Member

    Best of luck, hope you can stay on the bike. Listen to your body though, if your condition is deteriorating while you’re cycling a lot, then stop. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though.

    This is something you need to get in front of, as some people through strengthening and stretching do recover. Some links I’ve found helpful…

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/short-yoga-routine-lower-back-pain-2015.html

    http://breakingmuscle.com/yoga/heal-your-lower-back-pain-with-these-5-yoga-poses?page=0,1

    http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/10-day-core-strength-program-screening-testing-and-training

    And a contentious one…

    https://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/proof-that-functional-strength-training-cures-low-back-problems-and-pilates-wont

    I’d say that as a starting point, Pilates is very worthwhile. Especially the Pilates variation espoused by the Australian Pilates and Physiotherapy Institute (APPI), which has tailored programmes for disc pain sufferers. There are APPI-accredited practices all over the UK, and all their Pilates instructors are first and foremost registered physios.

    Once a good few months of Pilates is under your belt, then you can start acting on things such as what is said in that last link. Look up that author’s other articles for other intermediate / advanced protocols, with (e.g.) kettlebell swings being something to aim for a while down the line. That site is a real gem.

    hammyuk
    Member

    Hip flexors are and will be your worst enemy with your issues.
    Do them every day as many times as you can manage.
    Make sure you start with a glute stretch though or it’ll be tight when come to do the hip flexor stretches and you won’t be able to tension them enough to pull a full stretch.

    kiddaclo
    Member

    Just, as mentioned above, listen to your body. Everybody recommends the Sphynx pose, it destroys me and I pay for a week afterwards with weird nerve sensations so was advised never to do it by my osteo. That ragdoll in the yoga videos linked above is also bad for me, but everybody’s different.

    This is the best hamstring stretch I have come across and works well mid ride if you use an innertube 🙂

    p.s. random internet image, not me!

    Premier Icon bigblackshed
    Subscriber

    Short answer OP. Yes I had a knackered back, had surgery, lots better now.

    Not sure where you are, but I can recommend a very good surgeon if you are Midlands area. He’s given me my life back.

    When you are able to yoga and or Pilates is the long term solution to core strength and flexibility.

    dave32
    Member

    I’m down just outside London. Now I’ve calmed down I’m gonna go back to my insurance(bupa) and have a chat and see if I can get some more advice and get a tailored programme off a physio to get me started…looks like its of to yoga classes as well…probably the wrong topic in here but I now have a nice Canyon ht for sale hahaha

    kayla1
    Member

    My back’s buggered too. Meh. It loosens up when I ride or swim then seizes up again that evening. I just take painkillers and try to loosen it off with yoga. The back pain one on Pink Bike is jolly good.

    Premier Icon markoc1984
    Subscriber

    OP which part of London? I can recommend a very good osteopath in North London – Muswell Hill, and an amazing surgeon in the Whittington hospital. I am 31 now and had surgery almost 3 years ago so you are definitely not too young to have surgery.

    As above core exercises are key but my Osteo have me the right ones to do, and also released the tightness in the muscles that were making the problems worse. What gee did hurt like crazy but combined with the exercises he got me moving again.

    vickypea
    Member

    I damaged the disc between L3 and L4 in my teens and was subsequently found to have a bilateral pars defect and spondylolisthesis. Over the years, the disc gradually disappeared and it was really painful – for nearly 30 years I managed with physiotherapy and Pilates. A few years ago I developed symptoms in my quads which turned out to be impingement of the femoral nerve, and I had a spinal fusion in September 2014. I was back on my mountain bike in April last year.
    I was told that by keeping fit and flexible, I had done the right thing. I would strongly recommend Pilates and physiotherapy, and maybe a 2nd opinion about surgery if your back is affecting your ability to exercise or keeping you awake at night with the pain.

    dave32
    Member

    cheers for all the advice guys, back on the exercise path from today…and gonna check out this pilates and yoga stuff..think they do yoga in the village hall.. would rather not have surgery and manage as most have on here…

    neilwheel
    Member

    Get a second opinion.

    Anything that stretches my back works for me, sitting down is the worst option, for me.

    Core strength exercises, might be best to start under professional instruction. I had a course from an NHS physio.
    Yoga should help with both physical and mental stress, I have just started myself.

    dave32
    Member

    How do you all get on with office based work? Stand at the desk or kneel?

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Mine isn’t outright damaged but I have a twist in it at the bottom and all sorts of stiffness and muscle issues. Ironically, riding a mountain bike is the only thing that improves it- physio etc got me going again but never improved it beyond that, but all the constant movement of riding does.

    neilwheel
    Member

    How do you all get on with office based work? Stand at the desk or kneel?

    Personally I don’t spend much time at a desk, but when I do I use a Japanese style kneeling chair.

    solamanda
    Member

    I have 4 damaged discs, including one badly prolapsed after breaking my back in a DH bike crash 10 years ago. For a few years I was mostly fine and was back on a bike within 3 months.

    A few years ago it got much worse and I had a consultation from a surgeon. I ended up having a nerve root block injection which has been very effective. So much that the doctors used me as a case study as they were expecting it wouldn’t work and I’d require surgery. It doesn’t affect my riding but I’m marginally more cautious. I don’t ride hardtails anymore and I ride with a slightly higher than average handlebar height. A backpack that puts the weight around my hips has helped alot as well as loosing weight as it reduces the stress on my back. I recommend using a physio to get the correct exercises for your injury.

    re: desks, I bought an Ikea Skarsta sit/stand desk.

    £175 with a cranked handle which takes 20 seconds winding to adjust between a standing height (good for me at 6ft) and sitting height (good for after lunch or near the end of the day/week).

    I’d say the effect was immediate, I had a spasm 5 weeks ago which had me walking like I had a broom strapped to my back and unable to put my own socks and shoes on. Also very sore after a day’s sitting down.

    With the new desk I think I’ve recovered twice as fast as I would have otherwise (impossible to prove, I know) and have no problem working standing up for 2/3rds of the day and sitting for the other third.

    Would definitely recommend, worst case is you don’t get on with the standing in which case you’ve just got a very expensive desk. My work paid for mine although I resisted asking at first so they knew I was serious about fixing the problem myself and wouldn’t judge me for the days I had taken off recovering.

    Everyone is different but, as others have said, hamstrings made all the difference to me.
    More important for me to stretch my hamstrings than my actual back.

    Premier Icon wonny j
    Subscriber

    I had a L5/S1 Microdisectomy last Thursday. So far so good as the surgeon seems to have done an amazing job in removing the pressure from the nerve which was causing lots of sciatic pain. Was a much simpler case than the OP’s by the sound of it.

    For the time being I’m taking it very easy at home, doing very light physio. Hope to build up to some gentle core work over next 2-3 weeks then perhaps a flat bike ride after 4.

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