May 9, 2016
A while ago I blogged about the frustrating pain I was having in my lower back while cycling. Since then I have spoke to so many people who are also struggling with back pain both on and off the bike, I figured I would share my findings in a follow up post.
First and foremost my back pain has GONE. I did my first 100 mile last month and, although it was hurting a little throughout that ride, it has now magically disappeared. Well not entirely magically. I’ve been working on putting things right for a while but that ride seems to shock it into adapting, if anyone has an explanation as to why it stopped hurting so quickly after that 100 mile I would love to know.
“My legs and core, two fundamental muscles groups for cycling, were not in good shape at all”
I am by no means an athlete now, but looking back to when I first started 8 months ago I was really, really weak. My legs and core, two fundamental muscles groups for cycling, were not in good shape at all. While my legs just ended up being tired, my back ended up being sore for multiple days. I told my trainer and we got straight to work on core and back strengthening exercises. When they didn’t improve things we made the decision to come off the bike for a month and focus on swimming, a sport that would keep my endurance levels up while strengthening key muscles.
While I could see the logic in this, it completely filled me with dread given that I only had 7 months left to train for America. However, this was probably the best thing I have done since I started the process, I ended up really enjoying swimming and it played a huge part in strengthening my core. It’s also worth mentioning that I was still hammering the core and strength exercises. I was squatting, planking and stretching multiple times every day religiously.
In addition I was also seeing a Chiropractic, he did various procedures including some spine alignment as this was encouraging pressure on one side of my body when i was in the saddle. He did a lot of pushing and shoving my muscles and I always felt better after his sessions. He provided lots of expert advice and answered any questions I had (I had many). Many people have asked me if it’s a waste of money? I guess it depends on your circumstance but I spent perhaps £200-£300 on the sessions and, while that’s a reasonable amount of money, I followed his advice and I’m now cured. That, to me, is worth it.
When I got on the bike again some five weeks later I immediately felt stronger, not only in my back but also in my legs and upper body. My trainer started upping my mileage carefully to avoid any re-injury and I was soon hitting 50 miles with no pain after. Fast forward to after this 100 mile ride and I’m now banging out 4/5 hours in relative comfort compared to before. Of course it still gets tired and achy but it’s 10x better with no pain.
I’ve broke many limbs and had tons of injuries but this back episode was possibly the most frustrating. It affects all aspects of life, sitting or standing, work or in bed, you really can’t avoid it. And with no plausible explanation and getting progressively worse, it’s incredibly disheartening as well as painful.
You tend to forget the bad times quite quickly when things are good, but I’m so grateful that this pain has now gone. It’s a massive massive, massive relief. For anyone reading this with back pain I would suggest you get checked out by a recommended professional and follow their advice on how to fix it. I can’t speak for all cases but I think, like many other scenarios, the key to making things better is to persist with what’s required however boring or laborious it might be.
16 weeks to go and I’m back to normal.