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  1. #1
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    Cycling after back surgery

    7 years ago (26 years old) I hearniated a disk in my lower back (L5-S1). I worked on it for a year and eventually had surgery. Everything was great. I was back to riding and running. A few years ago I really upped my training and began doing Triís and long running races. Last fall I hearniated the same disk again. I had an unplanned surgery about 5 weeks ago because it got so bad I was not able to stand-up. Things are looking up now. I have started some really light swimming, and I walk a lot.

    Now for the real question. I am getting conflicting advice on my future on my bike. My surgeon tells me road biking should be fine, as long as I am comfortable and do not go too aero. I am hearing anecdotal evidence from some other athletes that tell me they had to quit biking because of lumbar disc problems and that biking is terrible for the lower back.

    Anyone have any insight for me here? I guess I could always get a recumbent, but that has never appealed to me in the past. I really do not want to give up biking. I know that there are a few bikes out there that are easier on the back (softride, titan flex), but I have never tried one.

  2. #2
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    I don't believe that road biking with a flexed posture is fundamentally bad for your low back. If you have very tight hamstrings and trying to get all your low position out of bending your back you do, however, begin to transfer a significant stress to the low back. Working into an aero position with stretching of hamstrings and hips and toning of core muscles, over 6-12 months, should be tolerated well. Going slowly and steadily to modify a position that affects the low back, and heeding what it is telling you in terms of comfort, should keep you safe. Don't go at it with the "no pain, no gain" philosophy. Stretching is always a little uncomfortable, but severe pain is counterproductive, if not dangerous. Background: personal experience with back injury, but not surgery, yet, and 20 years professional experience with back problems.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=
    Anyone have any insight for me here? I guess I could always get a recumbent, but that has never appealed to me in the past. I really do not want to give up biking. I know that there are a few bikes out there that are easier on the back (softride, titan flex), but I have never tried one.[/QUOTE]

    The only bit of insight I have for you is to listen to your surgeon and therapist. They are the proffessionals and know your exact injury.
    There are some very knowledgable people on this site and some are actual Doctors but unless you know them personally I would take the advice with a grain of salt.

    That is just my 2 cents worth.
    If you can't learn to do something well...Learn to enjoy doing it poorly

  4. #4
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    I had my L4-L5 fused a year and a half ago and I just started road riding last August. (im still MTBer too) As long as your seat to handlebar differential is less than 3 inches I dont see why you couldnt ride. You can try a stem with a sightly shorter reach as well.

    Like someone else said flexability is key and you should warm up your legs everyday and stretch the hamstrings, glutes, achillies, and quads. I also do stomach and side excersizes at leat 5 times a week.

    Im doing my third century this May so you can do it!

  5. #5
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    i had 3 lower back surgeries over a 2 year time in the late 80's. i think if you give up the running and become a full time biker you should do fine. do your pt exercises and follow the doctors instruction. maybe i have been lucky that my surgeon was a rider and understands the important of being able to ride. its been 15 years and i can do most things i enjoy except running. i play golf, down hill and cross coutry ski without any problems. good luck to you

  6. #6
    Old, slow, and fat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gtscottie
    The only bit of insight I have for you is to listen to your surgeon and therapist. They are the proffessionals and know your exact injury.
    There are some very knowledgable people on this site and some are actual Doctors but unless you know them personally I would take the advice with a grain of salt.

    That is just my 2 cents worth.
    Yeah, but there's doctors then there's Doctors. I'd see if I couldn't find a sports medicine place to give you a second opinon.

    I've been having issues with my back as well. I managed to ride my road bike 1.15 without having pain afterwards for the first time in about 6-8 weeks. Lowering my saddle and raising my bars seems to have made a difference. (and so did sitting upright...)

    Mike
    I've moved back to NoVA. PLEASE change the weather!

  7. #7
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    Boyd:
    First, everybody's physiology is different, so what worked for one ... well, you get the idea. That said, I've had L5/S1 surgery too (11/2000), plus four other spinal surgeries of various types. With the L5/S1, I found that switching my stem so that my bars were nearly the same height as my saddle worked wonders. I also switched to a suspension seatpost (on a carbon Trek) but then went back to steel bikes and haven't looked back.
    Good luck!
    Better Fred than dead ...

  8. #8
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    Thanks all for the input. I was surprized that not one person recommended going to a different frame like a softride. My surgeon specifically told me that riding would not be a problem at all, but he is not a biker. My primary care doc is a roadie. I will talk to him about this problem. Also I think a trip to the local bike shop for a new stem is in order.

  9. #9
    BS the DC
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    The main problem with cycling after a disc injury is the flexed posture puts a lot of pressure on the discs. Here are some ideas that might help.

    Stretch your hamstrings. This will allow you to rotate your pelvis forward, which will help you flatten you back. This will take some of the flexion out of your back which will reduce the pressure in your discs.

    I've noticed a trend towards sporty comfort bikes. These are road bikes with relatively short top tubes and tall head tubes. This allows for a relatively upright position that will result in less lumbar flexion and less pressure on your discs. Some example are the Litespeed Veneto or Palio and the Specialized Roubaix.

    Listen to your doctors and therapists. Start slow and work your way up. Listen to you body. Ultimately you'll have to find out for yourself what you are able to do. Good luck!
    "The team wasn't just riders. It was the mechanics, masseurs, chefs, soigneurs, and doctors. But the most important man on the team may have been the chiropractor."

    - Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts

  10. #10
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    Hey,was just wondering if the op was still around,how hes doing now?or if anyone else whos had back surgery could give me any advice?
    I had a discectomy 7 weeks ago;my doctor said its fine for me to cycle,the only problem is i cant tip-toe on my right foot so any out-of-the-saddle efforts are a no-no,and ill have to remember to always push off with my left foot on the peddal,as my right wont support my weight so id just fall over!
    Id also really like to hear from anyone whos had a discectomy and went on to make a full recovery and can cycle as normal,and if they experienced loss of function to begin with?
    Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

  11. #11
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    I had discectomy/spine fusion L5-S1 7 years ago. Every case is different but I was back on my bike a few months later. Now I ride 40-50 hours a month on a normal road bike without any issues. My saddle to bar drop is about 2 inches. I do have a little bit of permanent nerve damage to my right leg that amounts to occasional weird cramps & a slightly less connected feel to my right toes. Kicking a ball feels a little weird now. Key is to stay as active as possible without overdoing it, stretch a lot, & keep your core strong. Best of luck

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by farva View Post
    I had discectomy/spine fusion L5-S1 7 years ago. Every case is different but I was back on my bike a few months later. Now I ride 40-50 hours a month on a normal road bike without any issues. My saddle to bar drop is about 2 inches. I do have a little bit of permanent nerve damage to my right leg that amounts to occasional weird cramps & a slightly less connected feel to my right toes. Kicking a ball feels a little weird now. Key is to stay as active as possible without overdoing it, stretch a lot, & keep your core strong. Best of luck
    Thanks alot farva,its good to read a success story,especially from a fellow cyclist!

  13. #13
    wyrd biū ful „rśd
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    This is good to know as I have had a surgery in the same area for slipped-disc, the year before last.

    I definitely agree that taking it easy with proper stretching exercises and not pushing too much and continuous change of positions is doing some good to keep my going. Age is catching up on me as well and I think the body is less giving and not able to take hard knocks.

    I would definitely not want to give up cycling.

  14. #14
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    I don't which disk you injured but I destroyed mine in an accident with a drunk driver who died, but I digress, mine was the last two, the L5 and the S1 that required fusion involving an artificial disk with titanium rods and bolts and bone grafts. My doc also said it would be OK to ride to a bike with no problems but my lifting would be restricted so I started riding the bike 2 or 3 weeks after surgery against my docs advice who wanted me to wait 3 months, but I went around the block once slowly the first time. That surgery was a year and half ago and I ride almost everyday with some weekend rides in excess of 100 miles in a day and haven't had any issues.

    I did make it very clear to the doc that I do ride a bike and I ride a lot, so did he so he understood and assured me all would be well in that regard after the surgery.

    Do I have issues with my back? yes, but not when it comes to cycling, I can't lift heavy objects like I once could (limit is around 50 pounds), I can no longer do any martial arts like I use to do to the possibility of falling or getting hit but that was on the down swing anyway due to a dislocated shoulder and repair the year before. I can't sit for more than 2 to 3 hours and I have to get up and walk around for an half an hour or so. And for about a year I couldn't walk far without severe soreness but that has gone away.

    If the doc says your good to ride a bike than your good to ride a bike. The only thing you need to watch out for is crashing and landing on your back, it could hurt a lot.

  15. #15
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    I have l3 , l4 and l5 and s1 im also a cyclist would i be a good candidate for surgery

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  16. #16
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    It's not a question of if it will give you trouble but when. That trouble can be in the next year or decades from now. The trouble when it starts will likely be life-long but the good news is that it will be manageable and something that you can deal with and continue to ride and have few limitations.

    Strategic exercise the rest of your life will improve your prognosis. The importance of exercise strategy and weight control for the rest of your life cannot be overemphasized for the optimal prognosis.

    Best of luck to you.

  17. #17
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    old thread people.

  18. #18
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    My weight is fine thanks for your help I will look into otherways of healing my condition
    Through chriopractic care core moves and physical therapy and strecthing



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  19. #19
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    You may also want to look into an entry level English class...or get a different phone.
    I work for some bike racers
    I've got some bikes, some guns,
    and a bunch of skateboards

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by westham7 View Post
    My weight is fine thanks for your help I will look into otherways of healing my condition
    Through chriopractic care core moves and physical therapy and strecthing



    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
    how overweight are you?

  21. #21
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Im not overweight i was a year ago

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  22. #22
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    Have you tried the meat diet?

  23. #23
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    I have a question about back surgery will it make me taller or shorter

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