Herniated discs - the flagship injury of the trials rider

Something to take into account is the deviation that trial and flatland riders suffer in the hips on top of the bike and unicycle. We must realize that, as a general rule, we spend 100% of the time with one foot in front of the other and this is something that can be improved by stretching, with a physio or even riding a bike a little with the bad foot.from Hernia discal, la lesión insignia del trial – Trials-Riders

As soon as I saw their picture I thought that it might be of far greater risk to trials bikers due to the position they’re in, and their conclusion that it’s worse for 20" riders seems to fit with that.

Therefore I’d expect that the risk for trials unicyclists is lower still - we don’t have that same extreme position, and the explosiveness required for large jumps on a unicycle is quite a different movement to that on a bike.

Clearly any high level athlete should be considering the effect that the stresses of their sport has on the body, but probably not too much for us to worry about here - the common remark of “do more warm-ups and stretches” applies to everyone as usual.

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Their conclusion being:

This is clearly aimed at our less able two wheeled cousins rather than us. A regular cyclist is already hampered by poor posture on the bike which is the complete opposite of our posture on the uni, which is why unicycling is so good for exercising the core muscles.

In early 2020 I had a herniated disc (L5-S1) which then went on to collapse (as evidenced by an MRI scan). The orthopedic surgeon laid out two options: surgery (no thanks) or intensive core exercising to get my core back to doing what it should have always been doing, easing the strain on my spine. This was when I upped my unicycling (mainly distance riding) to strengthen my core. Today my core is incredibly strong and I have very little if any pain, and my mobility is excellent.

My point here is that unicycling in any form is unlikely to be the cause of disc herniations and other related issues. In fact, unicycling is probably the best form of exercise to address such issues which is certainly my experience. A year on from my MRI the surgeon is thrilled with my progress.

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I’ve heard similar recovery success stories following back injuries/pain that unicycling has helped with, but unicycle trials does share some explosiveness and posture with bike trials. Not sure how many high level trials riders are on here any more but it would be interesting to hear their experiences.

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I know of 3 unicyclists with herniated disks - I don’t think anyone should think unicycling alone is a good way to prevent it. After hearing some of the succes stories, I think that there might be some good “newbie gains” in core strength in unicycling - but to me, it doesn’t seem like a particularily core intensive exercise.

If you look at trials- street - flat unicycling (and muni to some degree): slightly hunched over posture, often slightly twisted body, fair amount of impact. Not exactly a model child for backfriendly sports. Just like trials cycling is highly different to normal cycling, these disciplines are not the same as unicycling around the block.

Well, the article is marked as opinion, and I wouldn’t take much more than:

away from it.

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