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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

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Old 06-17-12, 06:14 PM   #1
Altbrewer
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Cycling with low back pain

Wasn't sure if this fits better here on in the 50+ forum, but here goes.

I have been bicycling more or less regularly since my college days in the 1970s. I now have a couple of bulging discs, thanks to my foolishness with a Nautilus machine, and get pretty severe back pain if I ride more than 20-25 miles. Even without riding I get leg pain and numbness if I sit too long or stand in one place too long.

So, my question is what could I do to be able to ride further? I have considered a recumbent, but I am not sure that would really help. My bicycles are 25-30 years old and in good repair, but I haven't adjusted anything in probably 20 years. Back then I was pretty compulsive about getting things set up right, and have felt things like seat height, stem length, handlebar height, and seat fore-aft setting were at their optimum for my body.

Does anybody have any experience with riding recumbents vs standard bicycles with bulging or herniated discs?

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 06-18-12, 08:18 AM   #2
chasm54
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sorry, I don't. But there is a forum specifically for recumbent riders. You might have better luck there rather than here or in fifty+
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Old 06-18-12, 11:06 AM   #3
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I had a calcified bulging disc, nerve damage down my right sciatic nerve, and really struggled to find a bike that could work with that...but didn't want a recumbent, because, as a driver, I know even I have a hard time seeing those little flags when they're out on the streets in traffic.

Anyway after working with my physical therapist, I was advised to get a mountain, rather than road bike, with really good suspension, and a really upright stance, not leaning forward at all. It was difficult finding something that felt right and worked with my short arms, and I'm just a little commuter running errands and going to work, so I'm not a super knowledgeable biker with a huge budget for upgrades. But I will say that my Trek 2700 (found at a pawn shop!) was perfect, and, frankly, felt better than driving.

There are also "nerve flossing" exercises you can do, which will make the motion of pedaling less painful. Lay on your back, hold your knee to your chest, with your hands behind your thigh, and straighten and bend your knee. This pulls the nerve through it's sheath, and actually helps alleviate pain and inflammation. Anyway, it really helped me.

And, frankly, if you had posted this in 50+ I wouldn't have seen it. I slipped my disc when I was 22, and I'm only 34 now! It's not just 50+ folks who have injuries!
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Old 06-19-12, 03:41 PM   #4
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Thanks. I'll try the recumbent forum. I may have made it sound like I feel my bike is set up a well as it could be for me, but if there are any suggestions on what to try changing, I am all ears (or eyes, considering the forum media).

Mike
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Old 06-19-12, 03:51 PM   #5
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I would suggest trying out a recumbent on a longer test ride if possible. Or a hybrid with a more upright position. I have three ruptured disks, with an extruded fragment at L5/S1, and I have to ride upright. Still need to raise my bars some more though.......
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Old 06-22-12, 05:11 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. I am considering a professional bike fitting, but have also started lurking on the recumbent forum. I am really hoping I will be up for the Ride to Recovery Golden State Challenge in October.
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