Newbie - weak lower back question

Hi Guys,

Just looking for your advice as I’m considering buying my second uni and actually learning to ride this time.

My lower back is very weak, I’m over weight by a fair bit and I’m guessing core strength isn’t worth talking about either so would it still be possible to at least learn to ride enough to go round the block? Or should I spend time beforehand walking, doing sit ups etc to increase strength?


Hi Becker my back has never been better since learning to uni , I stuffed a disc and broke a bone surfing I was pretty fit before but I bet if you learn to uni you will loose weight it takes time and persistence to learn.

Thanks Thumper, now just to decide which uni to buy.

My lower back has bothered me only once since I started unicycling. This was before I got my first 20" unicycle. I practiced idling on my 26" mountain unicycle. Starting and stopping on the bigger wheel put a lot of stress on the muscles of my lower back.

When buying a unicycle, consider the relationship between wheel size and crank size. To strengthen your lower back without straining it, I suggest using a relatively smaller wheel with relatively longer cranks. A 19" trials unicycle with 138mm cranks provides a lot of leverage.

Lower Back

4 years ago i fractured L1 & L2 falling from a ladder. I already had lower back pain before this. I slowly started gaining weight until Feb this year when i bought my first 20" unicycle i spent 20/30 mins every day for approx two weeks learning to ride. Now i ride a 27.5 Muni for 6 miles pretty much every day before work. I have lost 2.5 stones and gone from a tight 34" waist to a 30" waist and the biggest plus is that my back has never felt as good for years.
I do make a point of exercising my back every day as well. Also i must add that i still cannot idle or go backwards more than a couple of revolutions so cannot comment on if that would aggravate my back or not. My advice is go for it. Good luck

Back Pain

Almost 4 years ago i had a fall from a ladder and fractured L1&L2 Ten days in hospital and 14 weeks off work.
After this i slowly started gaining weight until Feb this year when i bought a second hand 20" Unicycle off Ebay.
I spent two weeks learning how to ride it in ten or 15 min sessions and sweated buckets doing so. Skip forward 6 months
i now ride approx 6 miles a day on a 27.5 before i go to work! i still sweat buckets. But i have lost 2.5 stones
and gone from a 34" waist to a 30" waist My back feels better than anytime in the last twenty years. I think it is
a combination of the weight loss and the core workout that uni riding gives. I still cannot idle or ride backwards
so cannot comment as to whether that would aggravate a bad back or not. You can get plenty of enjoyment on a uni without idling or backwards
riding. I would give it a go. Good luck

Ideally you would do traditional exercise AND work on unicycling. Riding a unicycle is great exercise, although your skills can improve to the point that it is not strenuous at all to ride. At that point, you need to expand your unicycle riding repertoire to increase the strenuousness if unicycling were to be your main exercise.

If you are still working on actually learning to ride, that is significant exercise right there. I’d still recommend normal exercise as well. Who wouldn’t?

Good luck! Keep us posted. I always like hearing about someone going from overweight to fit.

Good uni workout

Get longer cranks and ride on the grass.
It forces you “off the seat” work the big leg muscles.
Plus, you don’t have to go fast and if you fall the grass is soft.

Forget about going for big wheels and short cranks just to keep up with the two wheelers on the bike path. Not saying that’s what you are doing?

It’s a temptation for some unicyclists to fast forward and focus on speed/distance vs. skill/balance/power. The balance/power will help you burn calories and get fit.

I am with my friend elpuebloUNIdo on this. If I could only have one uni it would by my 19" equinox street. It will do it all. Maybe not as fast or as far as other wheels but it is easier to learn new skills and they will transfer to other sizes. It is always in my trunk. I don’t leave home with out it. But 125 cranks are better.:stuck_out_tongue:

I had a weak lower back and bad posture when I started riding in 2014. Now my back is virtually indestructible.

I started with a 20 and flat ground, taking on hills I was comfortable with, progressing to steeper slopes that were on the edge of my capacity until I could ride them and eventually accelerate up them. Then move to a bigger wheel and repeat the sequence.

I love the challenge of riding up hills. Aside from fitness, it requires a great deal of poise and core strength and is apparently perfect exercise for lower back strengthening.

The key is to do it at the right level and don’t be too ambitious. Achieving a moderate climb is much more motivating than continually failing on one that is too steep.

I appreciate the advice but I was thinking more along the lines of a 24in wheel as I’m hoping to ride to work on it once I’m confident. Work is only 2.7 miles from my house. I think the 19in would be a lot of work to ride for any distance.

Great advice OneTrackMind. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’ll keep that in mind.

You should do fine on a 24. It sounds like I was in about the same shape when l learned at 46. I put all my effort into learning. Took it outside for the first real 40 foot ride the first of July fourteen years ago and could commute 4 miles each way by the end of September on a cheap Norco 24" with a nice KH seat. I had lost 20 pounds and didn’t need high blood pressure meds anymore.

If you want to speed up core strength try a few plank exercises every other day. I didn’t start plank exercises until years later when I started riding in hillclimb challenges.

Just go out, have fun, and be persistent.

Joe Myers


Hi Becker there are cheap 20" unis on gumtree which I think are easier to learn on then buy a larger uni and a 20 is good for learning new skills on in the back yard .