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Back worse after bike fitting :-(

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by Danny, 10 Jun 2008.

  1. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Location:
    York
    I recently went for a bike fitting session with Paul Hewitt. This was partly in preparation for buying a new bike from him, but also because I wanted to see if I could adjust my riding position to eliminate the lower back pain I often get when riding.

    As others with a similar problem have reported, Paul suggested I ride in a more stretched out position – basically by moving my seat back and fitting a longer stem. He also strongly advised me to try these changes out on my existing bike before investing in a new bike, as a more stretched position might not work for me.

    I have now modified my existing bike as he suggested and went for the first long ride on it last weekend. Unfortunately the results were not good and I experienced worse lower back pain than I have done for a considerable period of time :biggrin::sad::biggrin:

    Even with my old setup it seemed to be very hit and miss when I would get back pain. One some long rides I would experience virtually no problems, while just a few days later I could get chronic pain on a short ride.

    So my question is, should I persevere with the setup Paul has recommended to see if things improve after a few more rides? Or should I start making incremental adjustments to his recommended setup to see if this helps – for example by reverting to a shorter stem?

    Finally not sure if this is relevant, but I found that when I was in the more stretched out position I was having to tilt my head further back in order to see forward, and this felt as if was making my lower back pain worse.
     
  2. skwerl

    skwerl New Member

    Location:
    London
    a more stretched position is going to demand more support from your core and back muscles so you may suffer in the short-term while they strengthen
     
  3. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    And only make small adjustments at a time - a couple of mm at a time.... and don't hurry it or things will go 'pop' !!!!
     
  4. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Location:
    York
    Too late :ohmy:

    I went for the full change in one go on Sunday, and my back has been so sore since I haven't wanted to ride again. However will go for a short spin this evening to see how I get on.
     
  5. Blue

    Blue Legendary Member

    Location:
    Ireland
    Danny,

    I suffer from chronic knee pain and spent a couple of years fiddling with my position on the bike, finding it a hit and miss affair. If it helps you, I can advise that I found most benefit by steady riding on my turbo over last Winter. As all variables of terrain etc are removed I found I was able to notice the effects of very small changes and also pay close attention to what was happening to my body as I cycled. The result was that I was able to fine-tune alterations to the point of virtual elimination of my problem - didn't fully crack it though!! I know it's a bit warm for turbo training at the moment, but I just thought I would mention it in case you find it of use in the future. Good luck.
     
  6. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    I am constantly fiddling with the saddle height, bar angle and height etc. I also suffer from lower back pain on long rides. I find the angle of my bars is crucial...just a mm up/down can help one day and hinder the next...I also find things like padded/non padded shorts can affect the saddle height for me...sounds silly but it does.
     
  7. bobg

    bobg Über Member

    Location:
    Crosby Merseyside
    Danny, you dont mention the height of your bars in relation to the saddle height. Has this altered with Hewetts suggestions. I mention it cos in one of Lance Armstrongs books he discussed his back trouble and suggests that if you cant touch the floor with the ends of your fingers when your legs locked straight, then for the "average" rider, it is not wise to have the bars below the saddle height?? Having had a fitting recently and been given very similar advice to you ( saddle back, longer stem, bars down etc... I've never ridden a bike which felt more uncomfortable although as might be suggested, perseverence could be the answer? However, I rode a Trek designed for a woman last week and it was a revelation, embarrassed though as I am to admit it... Whatever you do, I'd be very interested to hear the outcome... good luck
     
  8. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Location:
    York
    Funny you should ask. We spent ages trying different handlebar heights and reaches, and he then gave me an incredibly detailed diagram showing all the adjustments I should make.

    Although Paul carefully and patiently explained the diagram to me at least twice, as soon as I got home and looked it again I couldn't work out what the drop should be :sad:.

    In the end I probably made the mistake of raising the saddle by a few cms as recommended, but then not raising my handlebars. So when I went out last weekend the bike had a longer reach and a bigger drop.

    My plan now is to phone Paul and ask him to clarify what drop he was recommending, make sure that is correctly set up and then increase the reach much more incrementally.

    By the way, what was it about a lady's bike that was more comfortable? Could it have been the shorter reach?
     
  9. bobg

    bobg Über Member

    Location:
    Crosby Merseyside
    I recently had to admit ( after the fitting) that I had a slightly shorter upper torso than the male average and shorter arms - legs are fine so once the saddle height is sorted using the knee level with the centre of the pedal when at 3 o clock etc all the other "rules" went out of the window. The top tubes on the Specialised and many other modern bikes I tried etc are made for average proportions and mine aren't! I needed a much shorter stem and they said that to fit one that was appropriate would make the bike unstable! In short the answer to your question is yes, top tubes are too long except on many Italian bikes or the Women Specific Trek bikes. I'm 5ft 9ish and the top tube on my 22 Soens frame is 21" c to c - the stem is negligible and its very comfortable ... when I put in on their stand at the shop they admitted that it fulfilled all the criteria for correct posture on a bike. Short of having a frame made , which I can't afford I may have to swallow my pride and "join the ladies" There I'm "out":blush: It might be worth trying one just for the sake of research and if it sorts out your back pain then why not?
     
  10. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    I'm surprised that he advised you to move your seat back as this should be fixed according to the length of your legs so that your knee is over the cranks.
     
  11. Twenty Inch

    Twenty Inch New Member

    Location:
    Behind a desk
    Are you doing anything for your back such as stretching, yoga, pilates and so on?
     
  12. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    I think he does a little origami and some aromatherapy.
     
  13. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Location:
    York
    I see a chiropractor and do daily back strengthening exercises. No origami or aromatherapy though.
     
  14. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Location:
    York
    I think that is precisely why he moved it back. When I developed back problems a few years ago I moved it forward - and fitted a shorter stem - so I could be in a more upright position.
     
  15. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    Why not indeed. The female frames seem to be more compact as apparently we have shorter arms/torso and longer legs than our male counterparts. Unless it has a dropped top tube you can't really tell in passing that it's female specific, unless it's a girly colour. I've just given my female specific MTB to my sister, which looked exactly like a male bike apart from the colour was a bit turquoise and had a silly pattern. You could always paint it a more manly colour I suppose!