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Low Back Pain: Strength or Flexibility?

Coach Robb



When you are riding or racing and your lower back begins to fatigue and ultimately become sore, your position on the bike naturally adjusts to accommodate the pain (actually trying to alleviate the pain) but results in bad body position as outlined by Gary Semics. The big question that arises when this happens is should the rider become stronger or work on flexibility? The answer is YES to both.

Over the last 29 years, I have seen lack of flexibility be the cause of both bad body position on the bike and consistent back pain. Here is the reason why. Imagine you and another person are pulling on a rope, unless one of you take a step closer to one another, you are not going to release the tension within the rope. If you both keep pulling on the rope, one (or both) of you will keep making adjustments in your stance to keep from falling over, this is EXACTLY what happens within the muscles.

This week, lets break down Flexibility

When it comes to increasing your flexibility in your back, refrain from stretching your back! Sounds odd, but let's take a look at the way the muscles attach to the bones.

Quadriceps (muscle in the front of your legs)

When you quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your legs) are tight, they "pull" on the top of your hip bones which tilts your pelvis forward. When this happens, your lower back now has a "bend" in it which puts a tremendous amount of stress within the muscles that run along your spine (the erector spinae muscles).

Glutes (butt muscles)

Your glutes (butt muscles) are a very strong group of muscles (glutes maximus and minimus) that serve numerous stabilization purposes.

Hamstrings (back of your legs below your butt)

The hamstrings work in conjunction with the quadriceps to stabilize the knee. However, just like the quads, when the hamstrings become tight, they pull down on the pelvis but tilt the pelvis backwards. When the hamstrings pull down, they over lengthen the quads and create muscle tightness in the lower back again.

Please don't let this become confusing, picture the pelvis tilting forwards and backwards. If the muscles on either the front or the back of the pelvis become tight, the joints around the muscle group become fatigued and eventually sore.

So with this being said, let's begin getting the muscles in your legs and glutes loosened up before we introduce any strength exercises. After a 10 minute warm up,

and implement stretches #1-7 single muscle stretches.

If you have a foam roller, please

and implement the first six foam roller exercises.

Next week we will look at some strength exercises that you can implement to improve your strength and endurance for riding and racing.

-Coach Robb


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2 people like this


Hi Coach Robb,


Did you post any strength and endurance exercises "next week"  as you said above?

I am 6'3 and ride on whooped out sand tracks, I get an extremely sore back and looking for solutions.


Many thanks :)

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Thank you for reading and posting a question!  I have posted a couple of articles since this was posted, have you had a chance to review them yet?  If you have and still have any questions, please don't hesitate to drop me a question here on TT!

-Coach Robb

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Thank You Coach Robb, yes I have read your great articles.

I thought you were going to post a second part about strength and endurance exercises for the body parts described above targeting lower back pain.

I have read your arm pump articles too and will implement these into my weekly routine.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!


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I apologize for the confusion.  I have been breaking down the various body parts and providing specific strength and flexibility exercises for each.  My next article (coming out this week) will be about cardio fitness to supplement with your improved strength and flexibility.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything clarified.

-Coach Robb

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Hi Robb, 


I had a surprise this morning on my Cycle Ops Fluid 2 trainer. I pulled a muscle in my low back yesterday.  I went on 2 Advil every 4 hours. After I took 4 doses from yesterday afternoon until this morning I got on my cycle trainer to do a 1 hour workout. My back felt fine but I was really surprise at how low my HR was throughout the workout. My average speed was 19 with an average HR of just 127.  I did this same workout last week with an average speed of 19.1 and an average HR of 145. Both workouts felt just as hard.  The only difference was the Advils. I feel kind of sleepy and tired today too.  Is this normal from taking Advil? 


Love all your tips...great stuff! 

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Thanks for the question!  I don't think that the Advil had anything to do with your lower HR - I would look at your hours/quality of sleep and food.  Something tells me that you may have eaten better and possibly began the workout more rested.  Is that a possibility?  

-Coach Robb

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Thanks for your quick reply.  I don't know of anything I ate that was different.  I felt rested but not as motivated to train hard that day. I'm doing an easy spin on the trainer today and doing some upper body weights. I'll see how I feel on the mtb tomorrow.  The Advil testing has stopped as I haven't had any since yesterday morning. Man, I thought for sure it was the effects of the Advil yesterday that kept my HR so low. I don't know...IDK. 


Thanks again,


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