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Old 2019-11-08, 04:30 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2019
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back problems from unicycling?

have anyone had any problems with their backs from unicycling?

I never had any in my first couple of years, riding a lot both in city (on asphalt) and in country, four seasons, but since this spring any slight rocking due to the "waviness" of the pavements causes discomfort, and any prolonged riding - pain afterwards.

Off-road (probably b/c unsurfaced roads are softer) is much better, but the problem is that any trip usually involves lots of asphalt, at least at its ends. I used to think that towns are like heaven for unicyclist. Not any more.

I admit I did have some unveiling problems with my back (before I resumed skiing and started unicycling) - due to sedentary working lifestyle etc. So it might be that unicycling exacerbated and not caused it.

I suspect one of my mistakes was riding a lot on 20" unicycle - probably they are only for learning and freestyling on perfectly even courts floor.

Going to try 29" tomorrow - and buy if there's no discomfort.

Anyways, I wanted to ask, if anyone here had to go through anything like this before

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Old 2019-11-08, 05:48 PM   #2
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There are quite a few threads on this topic, and I know some people reported back pain, but most of the threads are about the opposite effect that unicycling *HELPS* with back problems:
Unicycling helping my back pain
If you already have major back pain and inflamation, than I don't think it would be good, but otherwise it's usually positive.

Maybe check your setup and how you're sitting, maybe crouched too far forward? Sitting upright as unicycling encourages is great for your back, as well as the movement to exchange fluid in the discs and strengthen the muscles.
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Old 2019-11-09, 03:07 AM   #3
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Do you ride one sided (same hand on the seat all of the time)?
Possibly building up stronger muscles on one side of your body because of poor positioning? This could be affecting your already sensitive back.

I initially took up unicycling to strengthen my back and torso.
My back has never felt better and (knock on wood) my frequent back problems have almost disappeared.

I also prefer to ride instead of trying new skills that may be hard on my body when not perfectly executed.
Build up some symmetrical riding muscles and then add in other skills.

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Old 2019-11-09, 04:46 AM   #4
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Unicycling bad for back?

Seriously, all you did was a lot of unicycling and your back went bad?
Okay, let's investigate a little bit:
1.) How frequently were you riding?
2.) Any other physical exercise or sports?
3.) Do you work a sedentary job? physical?
4.) Have you had any prior injuries?

Unicycle specific:
1.) Do you feel the pain when you get on the unicycle. Pain from get go?
2.) Pain comes on during the ride?
3.) Pain comes on afterwards..next day, maybe?
4.) So does wheel size? Crank length? Seat height? really make a difference?

My guess is if you have pain from riding it doesn't matter what size you are riding. You should focus on cross-training, stretching, strength training and stay off the unicycle until you are more than recovered. Last thing you need is to be riding at less than 100% and suffer a fall.

Keep on.
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Old 2019-11-09, 05:56 AM   #5
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2 hands on the handle is the best for back pain.
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Old 2019-11-09, 03:33 PM   #6
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Thanks for the response, everyone

I understand the reaction, I always though of unicycling as nothing but beneficial for the spine. I had some onsetting back problems (sitting in front of pc too much during winter) - but completely forgot about them after I bought skiis and unicycle. The following 2 years I rarely, if ever, left home w/o unicycle. And never felt anything except what you supposed to feel after a perfect workout

Last winter, after exacerbating a leg injury, I had to avoid walking, i.e. had to sit a lot. And my only outdoor activity was unicycling. Sitting at home and then sitting - in saddle - outside. And jumping a little while sitting. My back got worse. After reaching the point when I could hardly sit or lay on my back, I skipped my daily unicycling once and I felt like resurrected the next day. I also had to drop one exercise from my morning gymnastics (the one where you raise your both legs while lying down... It's called "defeated dragon") After getting better, I regularly tried to resume riding, but every time, after a few minutes I felt discomfort, after a longer ride - aftereffect for the several hours.

I was scared that I wouldn't be able to ride a bicycle - luckily it was not the case. After the summer season has ended, I resumed my attempts, with the same result.

I do not hold any of my hands on the handle/seat (why?)

The discomfort I feel is from the up-down rocking - 2-3 oscillations that happen after each gentle slope on a generally even road - probably the result of the tire contracting/expanding on them, this also may or may not be affected by how pedalling combines with those waves.

I tried riding 27" today - the rocking is still present

the discomform is a kind of pressure / pinching sensation in the lower back, mostly left lower back

I think it's at the part of the back where you bend it when you lean to do a turn (turn left, in my case), or when you are riding on a sidewalk which is tilted right

And after I get off the uni, I often instinctively do a side bend exercise - to the opposite, right side.

From all of this I suspect I may ride it incorrectly - always bending to the left, w/o even noticing it. And, may be, because the spinal column is always bend, it is hurt by normally tolerable vertical forces. And my back coped with this for 2 years until it became too much.

If this is what it is, I have no idea how could this happen. Even if all my routes are tilted to the same side, most of the trips is two-ways. But now somehow I should understand that I bend even on absolutely untilted floor? I will have to check this somehow.

May be something happened to my unicycle that I started tilting while riding it. I will try to switch to my older one and look if there's any difference.
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Old 2019-11-09, 03:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Canoeheadted View Post
Do you ride one sided (same hand on the seat all of the time)?
Possibly building up stronger muscles on one side of your body because of poor positioning? This could be affecting your already sensitive back.
you may be onto something here, the pain is clearly more on one side, although I have not got a clue on how could I possible learn to ride in such a bad way and notice nothing for so long
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Old 2019-11-09, 03:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gockie View Post
2 hands on the handle is the best for back pain.
do you mean it should correct my posture or something? Ok, i'll try it, thanks

Last edited by jaborandi; 2019-11-09 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 2019-11-10, 08:57 AM   #9
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I suffer from occasional bouts of facet joint syndrome. It can come on suddenly for no apparent reason and leave me crippled for a few days.

Only once in 30+ years of riding has it been directly associated with unicycling. I was 12 miles out on a ride when my back went as I dismounted. With 12 miles to walk back in agonising pain, I found it was easier to mount the unicycle against a post and ride steadily. Every dismount was agony, but the riding was tolerable.

Back pain can arise from poor core stability. Unicycling is good for core stability.

Back pain can arise from stiff joints int he lower spine. Unicycling alone could make that worse. I now do flexibility exercises.

Unicycling should not be the cause of back pain if you are doing it right.
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