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Wandering Man 04-23-07 07:27 AM

Solution for a bad back?
I recently started biking again, after 25 years, and I love it.

I let my wife on my bike to see how she liked it, thinking I would go out and get her a bike so we could ride together.

Just as she was starting to think she could do this, she ran over a bump, and her back let her know she wasn't going to be able to ride.

She has scoliosis which has progressively become worse. We recently moved from a motor boat to kayaking (she loves to fish) because her back can't take the pounding when we hit waves.

Any ideas on a style of bike that she could use that would support her back, or reduce jarring when riding? She was on a "Comfort bike" when she hit the bump.

Would a recumbent be a possible answer?



SirScott 04-23-07 08:22 AM

Try a suspension seatpost first.

BSLeVan 04-23-07 08:22 AM

It might be worth a try to go with a recumbent. Tom Bombadil has reported on a bent he's recently started riding , and it might be the kind of bent your wife could ride. Good luck.

bemoore 04-23-07 08:56 AM

I'm in a similar situation, as I also have scoliosis Cycling has so far been the lowest impact exercise I've found. I have a Trek 1000C that has a suspension seatpost. It does a decent job of cushioning the impacts, so a suspension seatpost might help. A full suspension MTB with slicks would also help. I don't have one of these but I have been considering one. A little training might do a lot of good, too. I would try to get her to start anticipating the bumps & holes, and lift herself slightly off the saddle just prior to the impact. I do that and it helps. Also try lower air pressure in the tires.

Good luck.

jcm 04-23-07 09:06 AM

A 'bent may be in her future, but since you already have a bike, you can try a saddle with coil springs under it. I have back issues as well. Not scoliosis, but jarring definitely hurts. I went with a Brooks B67. Not only do I get the supple suspension of leather, but also the springs absorb alot of road vibrations and minor shock. For additional spring action, without any rocking, you can buy a cheap Murray or Huffy comfort saddle for $12, take the springs out and install them on the Brooks. Careful you don't doze off...:)

BluesDawg 04-23-07 10:31 AM

I have no idea if it would work in your wife's situation or not, but my back with it's ruptured disk is much happier stretched out on a road bike with a drop bar than sitting upright as on a comfort bike. The impacts tend to roll along my back rather than jar it in a straight line.

cfblue 04-23-07 11:26 AM

I am an avid roadie who uses both recumbents and regular bikes. i've met people who can't ride a recumbent (ar a road bike) because of their back, all you can do is try. As Bluesdawg said, a road bike, properly set up, does help back problems a lot, from my own experience

Bud Bent 04-23-07 05:04 PM

BD is right. A road bike puts more weight on your hands, therefore compressing your back less. Some people with back issues find positions and techniques that work for them.

A recumbent probably has a better chance of working, but there's no guarantee there, either. You have to experiment with different bikes and positions, and some upright riders never do come around to liking recumbents. Good luck.

ang1sgt 04-23-07 06:17 PM


Originally Posted by Wandering Man

Would a recumbent be a possible answer?



Simply stated. YES! There are many very supportive Recumbent seats out there, but you would be hard pressed to beat the comfort of the RANS Seat. I have a RANS Rocket and I have very very good support with that seat and the mesh back is very very good at supporting the entire back.

Find a place that sells RANS or Bacchetta Recumbent Bikes. If I am not mistaken their seats are the same as the RANS.


dbg 04-23-07 06:28 PM

I had to give up running because of back problems. I discovered I could ride forever with no problems, but My kind of back problem seems to get better when I bend forward (my best recovery/relief was laying down with knees pulled to the chest). So I found a deeper bending road position is best for me.

I did have a bad back pain episode last summer prior to our annual WI tour and couldn't easily even mount a bike. But I used a recumbent and wore an inflatable lower back support. I ended up riding 60 to 70 miles a day that way.

BUT- I think there are other kinds of back problems where stretching forward isn't so comfortable.

bobkat 04-23-07 07:52 PM

Yes, It's trail and error. I have severe back problems and can only ride a LWB recumbent. Riding an upright much leaves me with enough pain that I don't walk for a day or two. In fact, riding the bent is about the only time I am pain free. But I do have one friend who was the opposite. When he rode a recumbent he got sciatic nerve pain down his leg.
But by and large, I talk to far more bent drivers who have no back, neck or wrist problems with a bent than otherwise. But have her try the above suggestions and hopefully find something that works.

Wandering Man 04-24-07 04:55 PM

Thanks for all the input.

We will start the research process, putting her on different bikes, checking out seats, etc.


oldspark 04-24-07 06:51 PM

Do any of you with back problems due strength training for your back? Some very good exercises for your back and core that may help.

Bill Kapaun 04-24-07 07:33 PM

"BD is right. A road bike puts more weight on your hands, therefore compressing your back less. Some people with back issues find positions and techniques that work for them."

This doesn't work for me. I won't be able to straighten up afterwards.
I have to ride VERY upright.
I added "riser" bars (100mm?) and raised the stem as far as I could.
I do find the more riding I do, the less my back bothers me. I guess strengthing the "lower" body helps support the "upper".
I don't go smaller than the 26x1.5" tire on the front and run it somewhat below max pressure. I weigh about 245 BTW.

JanMM 04-24-07 07:43 PM

Might want to look into Crank Forward bikes. Rans, Electra, etc.

BluesDawg 04-24-07 08:01 PM


Originally Posted by Bud Bent
BD is right. A road bike puts more weight on your hands, therefore compressing your back less. Some people with back issues find positions and techniques that work for them.

Actually, my point was about the angle of the back allowing the shock from a bump in the road to roll across rather than being driven directly through the spine. It's the direct jolt that gets to me. Sitting up straight I have to have a sprung saddle or a suspension post. Leaning forward I have no problems.
With a good setup the weight on your hands should not be that much.

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