The problems with my back forced me to take some time off. After the Franklin race in July I hung up the bike. I tried for a while to get things back to normal with very little success. I finally went to get an MRI. It revealed bulging/herniated discs, spinal stenosis and arthritis. That explains my problems.
Physical Therapy was not really an option for me. In all reality they could not do anything that I wasn't already doing by myself. However, with a confirmed diagnosis, I could target my problems with more confidence that I was doing the right thing.
Since the MRI I have had some really good progress. I'm by no means healed, but I'm getting there. I have targeted the bulging/herniated discs with extensions exercises and inversion therapy. Day to day activity does not bother me. Running is good, rowing is good, but I still get pain in the back and numbness down my leg when I ride, Versa Climber and Jacob's Ladder workouts. Much of that is due to changing my posture and my muscles becoming tired quickly because they are being used differently.
While on the bike, my piriformis and QL on my left side get tight, tired and that is what causes the pain. I have decided for the time being to limit my rides to trainer rides. This allows me to ride, focus on posture and when I get tight, sore or numb, I can get off the bike to fix the problem. I get back on feeling fresh again. I will continue this format until I can ride with out pain for at least an hour. This same protocol will be used for cross training activities like the Versa Climber and Jacob's ladder.
I am optimistic that I will be back to my old self soon. Maybe not for a early season start, but by May I feel I can be competitive again.
I know many cyclist suffer from back issues so I will continue to post here to give information about what works and what does not.