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(Mk7.5 St) Advice on back ache


MRC89
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[Sorry for my absence]

Hi guys, having owned a fiesta st for nearly a year now, I'm really having problems with back ache in my lumbar. I realize that posts have been made about this before, but couldn't seem to find a definitive answer. 

Before this car, I owned a metal & a zs, and never had any problems. I used to do 400 mile round trips in a day to London & back with little to no sensation of pain. Now I get that niggling feeling whenever I have to drive more than 20 minutes. 

The 2 differences I'm noticing between the st & (pre-facelift) mk7 zs is that the ride is harsher, more crashy over bumps, and the seats are firmer (and lack a lumbar support). 

So I'm thinking perhaps if I change the shocks or seats, it may improve ride quality back into the "tolerable" range. Problem is, I don't know which to try, I don't want to invest in one for it to not help. Was just wondering if anybody here had experience with this, and if they found anything that helped?

I like the look of the recaros, and I like the way the car feels more stable (& more playful on the limit) then the previous gen zs. But I'm willing to sacrifice either or both for my back.

I've tried lumbar cushions, they fall out of place within a couple of minutes due to the aggressive bolstering on the recaros. I've tried multiple seating positions to no avail. I'm 27 years old, 5ft11 & 13st, the car has 3 years & 20k miles on it. 

For the record, I love everything about this car, except having to drive it for more than half hour at a time. 

Help & advice much appreciated.

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I'd look into the suspension if it's doing your back in. Probably change the springs to something which will raise the car slightly which may also reduce the stiffness of the ride. My dad has put several lowering springs on his car and I noticed the stiffness and how more harsh the ride is. This is just a suggestion. 

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Before you invest heavily in new shocks, have a quick read of this. I've always had problems with my back and had a number of slipped discs and muscle pulls

Previously I owned a Focus ST3 and the found the seats were fabulous. Very comfortable and I could drive hundred of miles in a day, get out the other end and no problems. I always had the lumbar support in its most prominent position, so much so that it feels like it's digging into my lower back

I traded my beloved in last year due to the cars age for a Fiesta Titanium (yes I know it's not a Fiesta ST, but bear with me). The ride of the Titanium is much more comfortable than the ST as you'd expected; no crashing on pitted roads etc., but I've always found the lumbar support ineffective and it actually moves position during driving. Again I put it in its most prominent, but find after a while it slips. A few months ago I drove 240 miles and at the end my back was very stiff and was like that for days.

It's unlikely to be the ride (ie shocks, given the more comfortable ride of the Titanium when compared to the ST) but the seats and specifically the lumbar support. Now obviously your ST seats will be different to my Titanium ones, but if your seats have the same or similar method of lumbar support to mine, it may be that it also slips and therefore on long journeys becomes ineffective for you - if so, can you get it to stay in position? I'd see what you can do with the lumbar before spending your hard-earned on new expensive bits and pieces, like seats or shocks (remember softer shocks are likely to affect handling and would you really want that?) 

Like you, I find the seats of my Fiesta very firm (Focus was softer). Mine are also very upright, unlike, I imagine, yours. Mine also do not have the adjustable base length and that can also be important for your lower back; if yours does try moving that. Try your seat height adjustment in different positions as the angle your legs are at can also put undue strain on your back. Try moving the back rest to a more upright position so the weight of your head is not putting strain on your lower back muscles, but travels down to the seat. Test the steering wheel in different positions, make sure your not reaching too far as again this could put strain on your back. I find that having the steering and pedals unusually close for a man is more comfortable (also aids car control)

Hope some of this helps and saves your money

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5 hours ago, CyprusPluto said:

Before you invest heavily in new shocks, have a quick read of this. I've always had problems with my back and had a number of slipped discs and muscle pulls

Previously I owned a Focus ST3 and the found the seats were fabulous. Very comfortable and I could drive hundred of miles in a day, get out the other end and no problems. I always had the lumbar support in its most prominent position, so much so that it feels like it's digging into my lower back

I traded my beloved in last year due to the cars age for a Fiesta Titanium (yes I know it's not a Fiesta ST, but bear with me). The ride of the Titanium is much more comfortable than the ST as you'd expected; no crashing on pitted roads etc., but I've always found the lumbar support ineffective and it actually moves position during driving. Again I put it in its most prominent, but find after a while it slips. A few months ago I drove 240 miles and at the end my back was very stiff and was like that for days.

It's unlikely to be the ride (ie shocks, given the more comfortable ride of the Titanium when compared to the ST) but the seats and specifically the lumbar support. Now obviously your ST seats will be different to my Titanium ones, but if your seats have the same or similar method of lumbar support to mine, it may be that it also slips and therefore on long journeys becomes ineffective for you - if so, can you get it to stay in position? I'd see what you can do with the lumbar before spending your hard-earned on new expensive bits and pieces, like seats or shocks (remember softer shocks are likely to affect handling and would you really want that?) 

Like you, I find the seats of my Fiesta very firm (Focus was softer). Mine are also very upright, unlike, I imagine, yours. Mine also do not have the adjustable base length and that can also be important for your lower back; if yours does try moving that. Try your seat height adjustment in different positions as the angle your legs are at can also put undue strain on your back. Try moving the back rest to a more upright position so the weight of your head is not putting strain on your lower back muscles, but travels down to the seat. Test the steering wheel in different positions, make sure your not reaching too far as again this could put strain on your back. I find that having the steering and pedals unusually close for a man is more comfortable (also aids car control)

Hope some of this helps and saves your money

Thanks for the advice, unfortunately the recaros in the fiesta don't have an adjustable base or a built in lumbar support. I'm yet to find an external lumbar cushion that stays in the correct place for more than a couple of minutes. 

I sit fairly upright & close to the steering wheel anyway. I've tried multiple configurations of height adjustment, recline, reach, as well as reach & rake on the steering wheel. 

The car is sat on -35mm Eibach pro lowering springs, this hasn't had an adverse effect on the ride quality though, the back ache was still there before having them fitted. I'm toying about with the idea of either picking up some zetec s(st line) dampers or adjustable dampers, or in the seats department, zs seats with adjustable lumbar or maybe even mk6 fiesta st seats, if they'll fit. This should still offer enough handling & support while increasing comfort enough.

I'm just not sure which will help, or whether to do both.

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I have a lot of back problems having broken my back in the past.   I find that a rolled up towel behind by back is a great help on a long journey.

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I've seen other forums where owners have swapped the seat uppers for Focus ST ones. These offer more adjustment and lumbar support. You might be able to source these at a wreckers. 

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I'd be surprised if it was the shocks that are causing your problem, especially when you feel it over such a short journey. I'm equally surprised that the Fiesta ST3 doesn't have lumbar support.

Bob has a good suggestion with the towel. You can also buy specially designed seat cushions, some with backs that can aid back support. I know my mum uses one all the time; the only problem being is that her heated seats now have no effect. They cost about £10-20 and a towel will cost you nothing. I'd try these before spending heavily on new seat backs or shocks. I've used the seat cushions for driving or just sitting around the house when I've slipped a disc and they are very good. Any of these cheap ideas could be tried before you invest in new seat backs. If they work then at least you'll know it's the seats not the shocks that are causing your problems and start to look at a more long term solution.

The Focus ST seats were fabulous. I had a pre-facelift mark 2 ST3 and they were the best seats of any car I've owned. I drove the 350 miles from South Manchester to Aberdeen on a number of occasions and got out the other end as though I just driven to the shops

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