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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-15-12, 08:14 PM   #1
bkrownd
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Commuter down!

I was a dedicated bike and bus commuter 1994-2010. However in 2010 certain lifestyle changes caused me to stop, and then intertia and my living situation made it too hard to get back to it. I finally got enough motivation up last week to finally blow up my tires and test-ride the commuter around the block for the first time in 2 years.

Well, my back was a little sore from a couple days of big wilderness expeditions. I strained it a bit more zooming around the neighborhood on my test ride, and went to bed a little more sore. Next morning I wake up still a little sore, but expect to walk it off quickly. Wait, big sneeze coming...OUCH! Worst back pain ever!!! Well, I stayed in for the day and the back pain disappeared by the evening.

However, after the back pain disappeared my leg started to hurt that night. I woke up at 3AM with the worst leg pain I've ever felt, and it won't walk off after over an hour. Pinched nerve? Blood clot? WTF? A couple hours later I'm in the emergency room taking a ride in their fancy MRI machine. To make a long story short my test ride tore a spinal disk, and the next morning's sneeze ejected disk material into the nerve channel in my spine and now a wad of it is pushing on my leg nerve - siatica. After a few days I can walk gingerly, but sitting and laying down is very painful so no sleeping. No working. No walks around the block. Definitely NO bike riding. Back surgery seems certain. My return to bike commuting set back by at least 3-4 months.
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Old 07-15-12, 08:28 PM   #2
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Bad luck! Here's to a speedy recovery!
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Old 07-15-12, 08:31 PM   #3
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Just get better soon. The bike will always be there waiting. Good luck on the operation!
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Old 07-15-12, 08:44 PM   #4
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Dayammm!

My heart goes out to you, my friend!

Good Luck!
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Old 07-15-12, 08:49 PM   #5
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Hope you heal up soon. Keep us posted.
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Old 07-15-12, 08:50 PM   #6
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Been there with that same pain.

Heal quickly.
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Old 07-15-12, 09:11 PM   #7
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Do yourself a favor - before you rush into the surgery investigate core strength exercises. Have a look at the MedX gym equipment and their core strengthening system. I had problems just like you and now 12 months on, I am back to regular commuting 8 miles each way. The next few weeks will be the worst but you should give exercise a go when your pain subsides.
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Old 07-15-12, 09:18 PM   #8
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Ow-eeeh! As someone with chronic back woes I can honestly say I feel your pain! Good luck with the surgery & let us know how things go!
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Old 07-15-12, 10:16 PM   #9
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Thanks peeps! Such a crazy random thing to happen just when I thought I was about to finally get back on the commuter wheels again.
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Old 07-15-12, 10:21 PM   #10
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Oweee and Auwe!! If it's any consolation, a lot of folks will be thinking of you -- not least of all when they sneeze?

Hope you'll keep us posted and have more positive news to report soon...
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Old 07-15-12, 10:57 PM   #11
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I was hoping I'd be making a victory post this weekend, after a week back to bike commuting.

Yeah, be very careful when sneezing with a tweaked lower back! Now that I understand how it happened it makes sense, but I never would have guessed that it could happen the way it did. It was just one of those things....
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Old 07-16-12, 01:22 AM   #12
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:-( I never realized how debilitating back pain is until I tweaked my back a bit. Fortunately, nothing permanent. Good luck finding the right solution. Perhaps multiple opinions are in order. Surgeons all thing surgery is the right way to fix problems.
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Old 07-16-12, 03:16 AM   #13
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Will do - my mom is on the investigation. I have a few weeks to think about it and see how things develop.
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Old 07-16-12, 07:59 AM   #14
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Prayers for a speedy recovery. I've been there recently, myself. At the end of May, I injured my back while moving furniture out of my flooded house. The back injury sent pain shooting down my leg, and was quite debilitating. The doctor didn't offer much hope beyond anti-inflammatory meds or surgery. What ended up working for me was a combination of time, rest, stretches, and exercises. I'm back to normal, and thankful that I avoided surgery.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:22 PM   #15
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I had disk related leg pain so bad a few years back that I could not stand for more than 10 minutes before having to sit or bend over forward. I commuted by foot then and I would have to stop 5 times on my way home. I was luck to connect with a great PT and with a lot of attention to core muscle building exercises was able to beat the pain without surgery or drugs. I still have back pain from time to time but nothing severe and no more of the horrible leg pain.

So don't rush into surgery real quick - and good luck.

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Old 07-16-12, 07:03 PM   #16
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This happened to me too. Still hurts some, 10 months later. Here's my advice based on my experience. The injections of steroids into the spine did very little. Painkillers and physical therapy helped me get through the worst of it, but then it leveled off and didn't change for a while. A chiropractor was the missing link, and I improved rapidly after that. I'm still not 100%, but my disc rupture was very large, so it was an extreme case--I could not walk for a few days, even used a cane for a while. I'm back on the bike now.
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Old 08-24-12, 04:14 AM   #17
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The root of my problem turned out to be spondylolisthesis - a mis-aligned spine and a deformed vertebra. Look that up on wikipedia and you'll see what it is, except my S1 is shaped wrong as well. Explains occasional mild lower back pain I've had for about 10-15 years, which was slowly increasing. I had always assumed it was muscle-related. I never had an x-ray of my lower back before this herniated disk, which would have saved me a world of trouble if I had one about 10 years ago. If I had known about the misalignment 10-20 years ago this event could have been avoided.

I was moving around quite a bit after 3 weeks. The sciatica (phantom leg pain and spasms) was pretty much gone after 5 weeks. The site of the herniated disk is occasionally tender, but some days everything is normal. However, the disk is always going to be at risk of rupturing again, so I'm going to have to manage all of my activities to minimize risk from now on. (That is, choose the risk) I'm back at work, and can gently do my wilderness expeditions again, though at a much slower pace than I'm accustomed to.

I'm not sure when I'll try to ride the bike to work again. It will have to be very cautious at first. Riding around the block was the event that precipitated the herniated disk, so I'm naturally nervous about it. I had not worked those muscles in a while, and just pushed it too hard. My route to/from work is all hills and traffic, so there's no gentle way to get back into it. I used to ride fast and furious, but now I'll have to find new gears and go a lot slower.

I have been a sprinter and jumper by nature for over 40 years. This is going to be a difficult change of pace.
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Old 09-27-12, 01:09 AM   #18
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Commuter back up!

I was fairly skeptical that I was going to return to "normal", but after about 6 weeks I was already getting there. By now I seem to be 100% again, and only very rarely feeling any differently than I did before the herniated disk...except psychologically, because it's on my mind that I'll always be at risk for another herniated disk.

I finally got it together early enough this morning to bike into the office for the first time in over 2 years. Everything went just like I remember. I made the usual time in both directions, though I'm riding the much more quiet and leisurely route I developed in later years rather than the steep direct and dangerous routes I did in earlier years. I tried to keep my back relaxed the whole time, though it was difficult in the middle of the longest climb. I felt fine when I arrived home, so it seems like I did OK.
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Old 09-27-12, 06:18 AM   #19
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I'm a lifelong back pain sufferer, falling down a flight of stairs at 15 from slippery leather sole shoes is what started. Its always there but as far as the doc tells me there is no structural damage. I get a sciatic nerve jab every so often and my back is alway a bit stiff but with some chiropractic ( yes I was always skeptical) and stretching I'm pretty good at 59 now. The best investment I've made was a sleep number bed. Expensive? You bet your backside but the first night I slept on it and didn't wake up with stinging pain in my back I thought this is what I've been missing. I spent over 25 years finding the right mattress. Everything from waterbeds to the best the major mattress makers had to offer. Nothing did the trick till this one. I loved the tempupedic but I sleep warm and thought I was going to bake in it. Its a fine bed too but just didn't work for me. Good luck with the recovery
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Old 09-27-12, 08:16 AM   #20
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Good to hear you're back on the bike!
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Old 09-27-12, 08:34 AM   #21
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Nice, well done!
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Old 09-27-12, 08:02 PM   #22
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Glad that you are seeing improvement.

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Old 09-28-12, 02:45 PM   #23
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Day 1 was fortunately problem-free, despite some disorganization.

Day 2 the bolt holding on my front fender falls out as I cruise down the big hill, and I had to waste 5 minutes lashing it back onto the fork with string. LOL, that bolt has been in there since about 2005, and it never came out before. I'll have to pack a supply of cable ties in my side bags.

Oh well, that's 2 commutes in a row and I haven't lost any skin or blood yet. I have been about 15 minutes late each time...still not organized.
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Old 09-28-12, 03:12 PM   #24
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I got a back pain once, 1 month unable to move and then, a specialist of sport injuries told me that most of back pain problems can be solved with back work out. It was 10 years ago never had back pain since. Your problem seems more serious. I'm with you on it.

If it can help I would suggest you to try a more vertical casual style ride If you haven't decide that yet.
I would suggest you as well the easyseat active from SQLab, it is made by doctors. I have used the pro hub x2 from SQLab a more sporty easyseat saddle for more than a year and it is by far the most comfortable saddle I have ever ride on. It has its own spring effect which make it good for the back.
I wanted more speed so I've been on a more speedy saddle since at this time I realized how comfy the pro hub x2 was. I still keep it in case I decide to go back casual.
The thudbuster LT seatpost would be a good plus as well.

Hope you get better
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Old 09-28-12, 05:21 PM   #25
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My commuter bike is a flat-bar road bike, so it's set up kind of "semi-upright". My hands support a bit of my torso weight, and it's a comfortable neutral posture. I almost never get out of the saddle while commuting, and the gears are sufficient for the predictable hills on my route. It's only 2 or 3 miles. If I were to go any more upright I'd need a lower set of gears and would be too slow in traffic on the hills. I should be good once I rebuild the riding muscles that haven't been worked in 2 years.
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