Health issues from unicycling!!!?

Everyone probably has, at some point, come across the wincing observer who asks, “How can you ride that without hurting your jewels?” And the answer has been explored many times in this forum.

But of course, although short term pain caused by accidentally knocking or sitting on your blueberries can be avoided with some care, the long term negative effects of sitting on the saddle for hours on end with your crotch being the only contact point is still largely unknown.

I used to bike quite a lot, and was aware of the various health issues that could arise with participating excessively in the sport. Luckily, I never experienced them personally, but the literature and the testimonies definitely exist on bike forums and other pro-health websites. For example, prostate inflammation, impotence, and calcified masses in the testicles riddle bikers with health issues.

So here, then, is the question: Do unicyclists face similar problems?

Due to the relatively small community of unicyclists in comparison to bicyclists, we have almost no concrete evidence from the odd scientific testing, so all we can rely on is anecdotal evidence from riders who have been doing this for a long time.

Now, the issue with asking a question like this in a community like ours is that people tend to get very defensive about their sport. When I posed a similar question on a bike forum a few years ago, the bikers responded with irrational patriotic outbursts like, “Biking is good for you! It does not cause any health problems! I’ve been doing this for years and nothing bad ever happened to me!”

We don’t need that here.

I created this thread because I am genuinely curious and worried about the potential health risks we may be subjected to. In the biking world, conversations like this inspired more scientific testing of the impact of biking on the human body and re-envisioned seat designs that was healthier for riders. So, let’s try and be serious and objective here.

Has anyone ever experienced any health issues related to unicycling?

As mentioned above, in the biking world, some common issues include prostate inflammation, impotence, calcified masses in the testicles, knee pain, hip joint problems, neck pain, and back pain. Of course, much of this can be fixed with the right seat height, but health risks concerning the groin area can be silent and deadly. For example, an article I read said that most men who suffer from impotence don’t readily attribute it to bike riding, yet riding does cause impotence. The article even goes so far as to say that it’s not a matter of if, but when.

So, if veterans can step up and give some insight into whether unicycling has caused any health issues, I think we will all be very appreciative. The information will definitely help.

D. Y.

Unicycling is good for you! It does not cause any health problems! I’ve been doing this for years and nothing bad ever happened to me.

Seriously though, I seem to remember hearing somewhere about impotence and then you’ve got your general scrapes and bruises inherent with the sport.

I’ve noticed that after a long ride (30+ miles for me), I usually need to pee, but it takes a bit more ‘effort’.

I suspect that too much distance riding is not good. After a really long ride, I get an odd sensation down there too, like I have to pee or something. That can’t be good. And unicycling can only be worse than biking for the crotch, given the greater weight put on the nether-regions.

I think moderation is key here. 50 miles or so miles a week is probably about the limit, at least for me. I wouldn’t do any more than that, personally. This is based on no scientific research, but just a gut instinct based on how I feel after riding those kinds of miles.

As far as impotence, I have been riding on and off for 30+ years and only in the last few years have I been putting in some miles. So far so good, but again, I took many years off of unicycling and only recently have been riding ~ 20+ miles a week.

So, you’re saying that by learning to ride a unicycle, you not only get stronger, but you could also get a vasectomy?

Wow, that’s a great selling point, I only wish I’d know that fifteen years ago :roll_eyes:

Everything kills you, but what’s the fun in dying if you can’t live a little?

You know, I agree, but I also believe in calculated risk. And right now, we don’t have that many points on the graph. I just think that having the information is better than the alternative.:slight_smile:

Some more information from another thread here; just want to establish a resource bank:


The benefits of unicycling in terms of health probably outweigh the problems if done in moderation.

I wouldn’t worry about it, unless you ride a whole, whole lot, which you probably don’t.

And I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a good scientific study, probably not going to happen.

Stop worrying and ride.

It all depends on who you’re riding behind. :stuck_out_tongue:

Now that that’s out of the way…

My main problem is my right knee. Full disclosure, I’ve had 3 meniscus tears in the past, all prior to unicycling. Unicycling doesn’t seem to have aggravated any of that though, in fact it may have helped to strengthen the knee by improving the surrounding muscles.

Anyway, I have a very sharp pain in my right knee outside of the knee internals, above and on the interior side of the kneecap, so much so that it’s kept me from riding. I’ve chalked it up to riding with the seat too low but it’s a catch 22 - raise the seat, muni suffers; lower the seat, knee problems.

Just thought I’d add something non-testes to the list of problems.

Was that a testimonial?


Dy, drama queen much? Your 47, your blue berries expired at least a decade ago no matter how well they work. Htfu and ride. This ain’t bike forum Foo. :smiley:

I’ll start with a reference back to that. In my understanding, these health issues for bicyclists are almost unique to Road riders, or others who do many hours of riding per day, lots of days per week. In other words, I do not believe they show up as a problem for cyclists who ride “normal” amounts.

That said, we sit more upright on unicycles, which tends to put more weight on the “squishy” part of our crotches. We’ve all felt it. While unicycle seats have gotten better, I think our riding position is simply more difficult in terms of designing a seat that can support our weight without putting pressure in places we rather they didn’t.

It’s all anectodal, since there are no scientific studies of such things as they pertain to unicycle riders. So we ask this group, and see what pops up. I’ve been riding unicycles since 1979, some with great seats, and others with terrible ones. I remember having crotch issues on my first-ever long ride.

My friend and I decided to ride our 20" Schwinns (a Giraffe and a regular 20", with regular, 1979 Schwinn seats) to a destination 5 miles away. And back. This was an epic journey for us based on our previous experience. I had only been “really” riding for about at week at the time. I don’t know how long it took us to reach our 5-mile destination, but we both arrived with sore crotches. Peeing was accompanied by a painful, burning sensation. We ended up mostly walking on the way back, and were lucky to be happened upon by my brother, who gave us a ride the rest of the way. (I just Googled our route, and actually it was closer to 6.5 miles)

The pee-pain quickly went away, and our teenaged bodies quickly recovered. Also we stuck to shorter distances. But in the fall of 1980, we both entered a March of Dimes SuperRide event; 75 km on our geared-up Schwinn Giraffes. We were the first to start, and possibly the last to finish the 10 laps around Belle Isle (Detroit). Painful peeing again. Our advice: don’t use a Schwinn Giraffe for a 75k ride!

Fast forward: In 1982 I got a 45" big wheel unicycle, and rode it in other long charity rides, but with much less adverse effects (still a Schwinn seat). Then in the 2000s I got my first Coker. In 2008 I participated in Ride The Lobster, a huge unicycle stage race. In the tons of training beforehand, I did experience some other issues which I’ll detail below. But since those early years, with the improvement in saddles, my own choice to wear good quality bike shorts, improved riding technique and the advent of handlebars for Road riding, the ability to do very long rides with much less risk of crotch issues is definitely a reality.

Of course. But first I’d like to rule out any health issues related to falling off the unicycle. Most other sports that involve movement can lead to injury but I don’t consider that to be the topic in this thread. My broken collarbone can be discussed elsewhere.

Foot numbness:
If I ride for a long time without dismounting or changing my riding position, I will tend to get numbness in one or both feet after several miles. Some of this is probably related to shoe tightness, but I think it can also come from restricted circulation in the crotch. That’s why we sometimes call it a “circulation break” when we stop every 5-10 miles on long rides. It seems to help. Other riders have figured out to not have this issue, either by changing crotch position, moving their feet around, or just better fit to their saddles. I know of two people who have done 100-mile rides with no dismounts.

Crotch friction damage:
Usually I get a raw spot, basically at the point where my leg becomes my crotch, on extra-long rides. Extra-long is a relative term. My wife and I now do a 19-mile ride around a local lake on a regular basis. No ill effects from that. But when I go beyond what I’m used to, I usually get some chafing that needs to heal. On the other hand I’ve done some very long rides where my crotch emerged unscathed. I haven’t yet figured out the secret. :slight_smile:

Knee pain(s):
Over the years, I have experienced when my knees would tend to “wear out” on rides longer than what I was used to. Like the lubricating fluids in the knee joint were drying up from overuse. This would happen to me on rides under 10 miles if I wasn’t used to it, but was not a factor on some of my longest rides, presumably because I had trained appropriately and kept myself hydrated. In the 80s, riding my 45" in the annual 5-Boro Bike Tour in New York City, it seemed my right knee would always wear out towards the end, and the last several miles would be slow and painful. I think if I’d done longer training rides, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

I’ve experienced a different knee pain on other occasions. My first attempt to do the 72-mile ride around Lake Tahoe ended with knee pain that led me to walk the downhills, while I was still able to crank up the uphills and ride the flats. I attributed that to not using my brake enough on the earlier hills in the ride. I got about 40 miles on that ride.

A few years ago I did a century ride, and that one also ended with a very sore right knee. Why the right? Possibly because it’s my dominant leg, so it might wear out first. Possibly due to an asymmetrical riding position (as yet undiagnosed) or possibly both. Toward the end of that ride, certain movements gave me a sharp pain, and hindered my riding. It took a couple of weeks after that ride for it to go away, though I haven’t experienced anything like it since.

Absolutely what we have to work with is not scientific, and is very personal. Like saddle comfort, your mileage may vary. What I’ve learned over the years is that the human body is capable of amazing things, but going far beyond what your body is used to can definitely cause damage that you wouldn’t get if you build up to it gradually.

Thank so much, John and everyone, for such encompassing answers. I would like to keep this thread open, so if you guys experience anything else, remember to post it on here so we have one roof to keep all this information under.

This has been touched on before. I am either super sensitive or just a wimp, but within 5 miles on any uni seat I’ve tried, I get off with the nether regions all a tingle. If I’m not paying attention and ride farther, I’m getting off to find no feeling at all down there. The biggest problem is it feels the same until numb. I don’t get a warning sign. I had to switch to a centerless bike seat. This made a world of difference and made my 36’er enjoyable. The cost for this comfort is some loss of uni control and the need for a handlebar. I figured numbness can’t be good. :frowning:

A lot of that stuff is BS, peddled by people with something to sell. Sure some people do experience those issues, but it’s actually extremely rare, and not something which is inevitable for those doing large mileages - if anything it’s the lower mileage recreational riders with poor ergonomics who are more at risk. After all, anecdotally there are plenty of pro road riders who’ve managed to father numerous children.

Unicycling probably does result in more risk for that sort of thing (if you spend a lot of time in the saddle, which most of us don’t), but you have to start with the baseline that the risk from biking is extremely low.

My answer to all of this, is…Listen to your body and respond according to it’s needs. My unicycle sessions last about two hours during which I take short five minute breaks. I’m not pushing myself to be the best at anything. I just enjoy unicycling and my body is in great shape. Excess in anything is bad for you and your body will usually let you know (if you listen to it). Every one’s body is different. Some people are heavily built and that might put more pressure on their nebulae but that’s more to do with the individual in question than with unicycling. If I feel pain after a session I’ll examine why, and address the cause. I don’t believe in pain.

To be fair, there are negative possibilities in most sports, but for me it would be more negative to sit around and do nothing. I feel that my body and mind are suited to unicycling and so that’s my favourite sport.

Practise moderation in all things, but please… do it in moderation.

Unicycling obviously exposes you to the risk of various accidental injuries.

The activity itself, without accidents, will give you general health benefits like any sport. It is not an “impact sort” so is probably safer than running, squash etc.

Excessive amounts will potentially damage nerves in the areas that are subjected to continuous pressure: the balls of your feet, your crotch. However, I think you would need to do a heck of a lot before that became a factor.

You may increase the risk of knee injury if you ride with your seat too low.

Sitting at my desk for 7-8 hours a day, and sitting on my motorbike for 2 hours a day (or driving for a similar amount of time) are doing me more harm.

The alternative being “not riding”?

I think you’re on the wrong forum.

Try this site:

Seriously, there is not a unicyclist alive who has not suffered with significant crotch discomfort all or most of the time since starting to ride a unicycle.

The reality of unicycling is that discomfort is a primary limiting factor in the time we can spend in the saddle. Most of us are more concerned about falling and breaking a wrist than about calcified masses in their testes.

All men will get prostate cancer, it isn’t a question of “if”, it is a question of “when”.

Your best bet is to have regular physicals and do self exams.

If you ride a uni and it hurts, when the the pain is bad enough, get on the forum and see if folks have ideas about how to decrease discomfort.

There are a number of threads concerning crotch discomfort and what riders have done to improve comfort, maybe THAT would be a good data set to develop; i.e. solutions to discomfort that could cause a health problem.

I think your overthinking this issue, verging on paranoia.

You’re a new rider, it takes time to overcome the discomfort. A you learn to ride, your increasing skills will help with body position, and your increasing strength and stamina will lead to longer, more satisfying rides. Go ride and leave your worries behind.

And since we’re talking about unicycle related crotch pain:

People, listen up, if you are tired of having your testes smashed together, if you wish a better seat could be “made”, then that time has arrived and the means to improve your seat are in your hands, literally.

Take a look at this thread, it is the best answer for relieving crotch discomfort while riding: The world's second best unicycle seat (for tightwads)

After flattening my uni seats I can ride further, I no longer have crotch “abrasion” issues, I have “space” to wear bike shorts, and I am having mre fun riding :smiley:

Nurse Ben *Seriously, there is not a unicyclist alive who has not suffered with significant crotch discomfort all or most of the time since starting to ride a unicycle.

The reality of unicycling is that discomfort is a primary limiting factor in the time we can spend in the saddle. Most of us are more concerned about falling and breaking a wrist than about calcified masses in their testes.*


If you spend a long time in the saddle you’re going to hurt, you’ve been putting your weight on your saddle for a long time. You should hurt from that. IMO you shouldn’t worry until either something hurts when it shouldn’t or something doesn’t hurt when it should.

It kinda reads like an advertisement for body enhancement :stuck_out_tongue: