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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 07-02-13, 02:23 PM   #1
Mithrandir
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Lumbar disc herniations, any experiences, recommendations?

I've been suffering from back pain since last year and I recently found out I've herniated nearly every lumbar disc in my spine somehow. No idea how.

Anyway, it's kept me off my bicycle for too long, and I wish to do something about it. I finished physical therapy and I would like to begin looking at how to make cycling possible for me again. Does anyone have any experience with this condition, and any recommendations of how to overcome it (posture, new bicycle, etc?).
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Old 07-02-13, 02:35 PM   #2
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every disc?! That's awful! I have one in my lower back. ibuprofen, regular exercise, and stretching - particularly the iliopsoas - keep the worst at bay, although I've been laid up for over a month at times. Your condition sounds much more severe. Maybe a recumbent would work for you? I bet your physical therapist would have some ideas. Good luck.
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Old 07-02-13, 02:40 PM   #3
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Been doing physical therapy for the last 4 months. Finally "graduated" yesterday. I'm off the meds and I can sit all day long with no problems now (thank god). Therapist said only to raise the stem so I sit more upright and limit myself to 20 minutes of cycling 3 days a week... which in my opinion means why bother cycling at all. Takes me 40 minutes just to warm up!

Wish I knew what caused this to be honest. They seem to be under the impression that it was the cycling and would prefer it if I stopped altogether. Well, that's not an answer I'm willing to accept just yet.
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Old 07-07-13, 02:12 AM   #4
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I have a bulging disc in L3/L4. I could never ride road but had to have either a comfort bike or mountain bike. I've tried to ride a road bike but during the test ride while shopping, 10 mins on the bike hurt too much. Being bent over like that was feeling like the disc was going to blow. Well, it didn't help with the fact that the person who was trying to sell the bike was stoned out of their head and pumped up the tires to 115...AND tried to let me ride it with no pedals...luckily I pointed out that she was bringing down the bike that was waay too big for me.

ANYHOO......

I ended up getting a frame built with discussion between the fitter and my doctor. The fitter measured me completely. From my leg length, my pedal stride to how I even walked in a straight line. Long story short, after waiting 12 weeks for it to be built, I finally took it out and rode for four hours straight. No pain whatsoever. I could have ridden longer. The best bike decision I have ever made.
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Old 07-07-13, 04:43 AM   #5
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Been doing physical therapy for the last 4 months. Finally "graduated" yesterday. I'm off the meds and I can sit all day long with no problems now (thank god). Therapist said only to raise the stem so I sit more upright and limit myself to 20 minutes of cycling 3 days a week... which in my opinion means why bother cycling at all. Takes me 40 minutes just to warm up!

Wish I knew what caused this to be honest. They seem to be under the impression that it was the cycling and would prefer it if I stopped altogether. Well, that's not an answer I'm willing to accept just yet.
I don't think you need to take that as gospel either. I had L4/5, L5/S1 surgically repaired many years ago, with subsequent degenerative changes that naturally fused over time. I would suggest that you go for an upright like a Giant Escape or Trek FX that has more of an upright position and make sure to get the bike properly fitted to you. The other alternative is a recumbent bike or a trike and there's lots of nice ones out there now.
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Old 07-08-13, 02:25 PM   #6
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In some lucky people, the disc degeneration is simply a part of the aging process. Congratulations on possibly being one of them.

I'm very concerned at your mental approach, given what you've written..I used to work fire, and have seen plenty of similar stories.
Indeed, the initial stages of my own back issues were similar, and my approach equally unenlightened....the push through it approach to pain does not work here.

Besides a regular yoga practice, modified to eventually (meaning over a period of a couple of years) both open and lengthen your
hips, quads, and the deeper muscles connecting your femurs to your lumbar area (run under the abdominals IIRC), you really ought
to be open to a radical departure from your prior cycling practice. Certainly it's possible that your biking was responsible for some
postural changes over the years due to hours in the saddle and the inevitable strengthening and shortening of muscle groups associated
with road pedaling positions. You can't change that overnight, and it's possible that a return to your previous cycling practice will,
indeed, make you worse............as painful as it is to say this, have you considered riding a bent for a while?

As one final word of encouragement, I biked not at all for about five or six years because of a combination of back issues and health.

I'm fine now, and think nothing of riding 40 miles as one of my regular runs along the river here. Something happened where a combination
of the aging and arthritic processes both knit a few things solid and some of those nerves that were so vocal finally just died, I think.

But the yoga helped a lot.....................take care,nobody really cares about your pain the way you do.
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Old 07-08-13, 02:28 PM   #7
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No pain whatsoever except for 3alarmer, as usual.
................fixed
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Old 10-30-13, 01:59 PM   #8
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I may be coming in a little late to this discussion, but I have back issues too, and may be able to offer you a little help.

I've got double major scoliotic curvatures of the spine, with steel implants and spinal fusion through the entire thoracic column and partially in the lumbar column, too. My cervical vertebrae can move well enough, albeit with some rotational limitations, and I have 3 lumbar vertebra that are still able to move, although the top one below the rod/fusion end is heavily arthritic and is shaped like a mushroom.

I had the surgery when I was 18, and I'm 50 now. I know a thing or two about chronic back pain, but more importantly, I know what to do to minimize it.

Echoing what 3alarmer said, by all means do start yoga, and get an instructor that knows what they are doing and can tailor a program to suit your needs. Work on flexibility--upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog, cobra, various revolved angle poses, sun warrior pose, extended side angle pose, etc. Also, do lots of core work beyond what you do in yoga class--strength in your core as well as flexibility work will help a lot with chronic pain.

Too, what I'm finding in my search for a road bike is that "endurance geometry" or cyclocross road bikes tend to have a longer head tube and a slightly more upright position than most road bikes. Also, you may want to look at a frame that's the next size down from what you normally ride for your height. It may not seem like much, but even a few degrees less torso angle off perpendicular and a little shorter reach to the bars/hoods makes a world of difference.
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