Unicycling as disability/infirmity transport

An unlikely sounding thread title I know :slight_smile:

But I’m proposing it as a serious option.

There’s no doubt that unicycling is superb for maintaining health and cardiovascular fitness: one of ‘Unigeezers’ vids mentioned that, though he’s getting on a bit, he’s now, thanks to unicycling, in the best shape of his life.

(though he does tend to do some of the more intense forms of unicycling, like trials/extreme muni, whereas I stick to just riding distance).

I can no longer run, due to a foot issue, yet find that unicycling, being almost zero impact, is unaffected.

Recently, after an ambitously long session of barefoot walking, that left my feet so blistered that it was very painful to walk, I again found it easy to do a 1hr+ uni ride into town.

In fact, over the years, I’ve had several incidences of leg issues that have made walking either impossible, or painful, and found that unicycling is the best option for getting from A to B without feeling that I’m making the injury worse.

Basically, on those occasions, I’m using the unicycle as a kind of mobility scooter.

I can imagine that it would be feasible to continue to do so into my 50’s/60’s/70’s/80’s? Perhaps to continue unicycling past the point I can walk comfortably, and do so, not just for the enjoyment of unicycling, but because it’s actually more practical than walking.

Of course, that option is only feasible for unicyclists- I can’t imagine it being a good idea for the average non-unicycling pensioner to suddenly choose to learn to unicycle, with an eye to using it as a mobility scooter alternative :slight_smile:

So if you can’t walk comfortably anymore,
what happens if you UPD?

Pain. Though I’m guessing in this application you’d be unicycling not much faster than walking speed so a UPD should not entail anything more dramatic than stepping off.

You get back on and continue riding :slight_smile:

I can walk fine, but, like I said, there have been occasions when, due to injury I couldn’t walk fine.

By which I didn’t mean I couldn’t walk at all- just that walking any distance was painful and/or felt like I was causing more damage.

On those occasions, I found that unicycling was totally comfortable.

In particular, while I wouldn’t, at those times, have walked into town, I happily unicycled into town.

But this is also possible on a bike, no ? Less chances of UPD, thus less chances of injuries. If I am not mistaking, bicycling is already recommended for people with walking disabilities, to keep them in good shape.

But I get what you mean. It is a common situation for trials/street/flat/muni riders to have, for example, a sprained ankle and to prefer to ride rather than to walk because it is less painful. At Unicon, I had 2 broken toes, but I kept riding because my toes would move less that way than if I were to walk.

There’s also the fact that it usually requires less energy to get somewhere on a unicycle…

Yes Dave, I definitely credit unicycling for many positive things! And like you, I use to run before I rediscovered unicycling, and luckily so; my knees and ankles just couldn’t take the constant impact of running. I truly believe that unicycling is close to being the most perfect exercise for mind and body! :slight_smile:

My two cents:

Recently, while out riding, I hurt my left foot and was seriously wondering if I could walk the one mile home. I discovered I could ride much more comfortably than walking.

I know this won’t always be the case, for instance if an alligator bites off your foot, but it worked for me.

You need to learn to ride one-footed in case that happens - at which point I’m sure unicycling will be easier than walking.

I have found unicycling less painful, by far, than even biking. Bicycling hurts my neck and my back a bit. I always end up with a bit of a headache after biking. Unicycling keeps my neck and back alligned.

I broke my finger learning to ride, but that was back in the mid-eighties.

I ran 40 plus marathons, multiple ultras, ankles gave out, can’t run a 1/2 mile anymore without pain…but I can ride all day on the unicycle. It’s great to still have a form of exercise. I use it for every errand I can think of. So is the unicycle a good mobility transport machine? Yes. So will the unicycle be good for invalids?, no, of course not, but for some people with slight disabilities, probably still a good form of transportation.

I also had problems with my knees.
My doctor said: “look at your age, it is normal to have some pain in your knee joints” :o
So i stopped running -i was not an ultra runner but i did a marathon and several half marathons.
At the same time I started unicycling. Not because of the problems, only because this sport gives so much fun.
Mostly I ride to my work it is around 8 Km and once per year I join the unicycle-marathon and do a little MUNI
Now I am fitter than ever and my knees are well again. Uni is a real therapy and it makes more fun than bicycling
So I started slightly jogging to train my other leg muscles.

Back in 2004/2005 i had a metric buttload of chemotherapy for non hodgkins lymphoma. Now, i was a relatively sedentary UNIX geek prior to this and became particularly inactive during this period. About half way through 2005, i was trying to regain some semblance of fitness (walking 100m caused me to breathe heavily and sweat) by walking to university classes 1km down the road 3 times a week. After doing this a few times, suddenly my left leg decided it wanted to hurt lots. I eventually diagnosed myself with avascular nechrosis of the femoral head - having been given steroids for chemo and been inactive, constriction of blood flow to the head of my femur effectively killed the bone. I have walked with a limp since. A week before this happened, i bought a learner unicycle, with the intention of reclaiming some coordination. I was unable to use it.

Walking caused significant pain. Running was not an option. So i took up bicycling gradually. Being low impact to the joints, it was great. I gotta say, my coordination was horrendous and i did come off several times due to just being unco. I went from being totally exhausted riding 5km, to doing regular 100km rides in about 2 years.

But walking still hurt and lunging forwards, a la 10 pin bowling, would cause me to collapse. I persevered and started walking more despite pain. Fast forward a couple of years, past another cancer (acute premyelocytic leukemia, caused by one of the other chemo drugs), to 2010. I pulled my old learner unicycle out of the shed and started practising 3 or 4 times a month, putting it away once i’d bashed my ankles sufficiently to warrant stopping. It took me a long time to learn in the backyard on loose sandy grass with bumps and holes.

I also took up yoga in 2010, which significantly helped with coordination issues that had yet remained. Early 2011, i get my first real uni, a kh29, and begin riding offroad. I’d barely learned to freemount on the learner at this stage, but somehow found static mounting the 29 easy to get the hang of. Walking still can cause pain, but i can walk a couple hours before it kicks in and i recover after a day or two. Mostly.

I also took up slacklining mid 2011. Wow. Took me a while to get the hang of it compared to most folks (five hours practise before i can balance on one leg long enough to take a controlled step). But regular practise and all of a sudden i have coordination and balance in all aspects of sport. I naturally balance on a sit on top surf ski where my friends all fall off. Yoga becomes easier. Muni becomes easier with every ride. Walking causes me fewer and fewer problems. Outrunning a ton of UPDs during muni no longer makes me limp for a week afterwoods. I’m bicycling up steeper hills with greater comfort that ever before.

Not sure where i was going with this rant, but i think what i’m trying to say is that no one thing is going to rehabilitate a person fully. Bicycling was my gateway into excercise. Unicycling was something i was absolutely unable to pursue initially, but was eventually my gateway into not being a complete unco fucktard - i used to struggle walking down a hall without bumping the walls, now i’m hopping up and down flights of stairs while my recent broken leg heals (fucking non cripple friendly campus… grrr). I still don’t run, because of how long it takes for me to recover from the subsequent pain. But i can tell its getting closer, and maybe one day…

I do too :slight_smile:

Being 46, one concern I used to have was the knees- in the past they have niggled sometimes and, I’ve got a couple of friends my age who’ve had to have knee surgery.

But unicycling seems to not bother the knees, in fact, I’m wondering if it actually can benefit them?

Certainly, running and walking do stress the knees, as they’re impact based activites, and, an hour a day spent unicycling, is an hour you’re not walking/running.

Also, I recently got a bike and got quite into it, at one point I was biking more more unicylcing. I found my knees started playing up, then, when I upped the unicycling again, they were a lot better.

I wonder if the fixed wheel nature of unicycling brings just that bit more participation of the leg biceps/back of leg muscles, and provides a balance in muscular development that offsets the, mainly quad (front of leg) development that biking encourages?

I know that one reason some people fixed fixed-gear bikes, is that they believe they are better for the knees.

Then again, if an alligator bit off your foot, and you had to get home under your own steam, could it not be argued that, of the two options (walking vs unicycling)- the unicycle would be preferable? :slight_smile:

Obviously, pedaling using your stump would be far from easy, but, the alternative would be walkin on it, which might be worse.

Certainly, one plus would be that you could give the pedal a good clean, which would reduce risk of infection- much better than pushing it into the ground with every 2nd step.

Wow! You’ve had some tough times there. Amazing that you’re persevering with, not only muni, but all that other stuff.

I had some attempts at slacklining, but didn’t stick it cos it was so difficult.

You’re a pretty inspiring person :slight_smile:

in fact I have a document signed by a MD stating that I cannot stand up for a long time (which is true: ankle problem inherited from my ancestors -would you believe it: this genetical defect was found on cave-dwelling prehistoric people :D!-).
Ok the condition is benign but I will use this document to justify the use of unicycle as a “vehicle for disabled person” :wink:

this said: yes unicyling is the best thing that happened to me in terms of physical and psychological well-being.

I have iliosacral injury and can not lean forward without pain. I was riding my MTB every day before this injury but now - too much pressure on the lower back which cause “breatheless” pain. Walking - painful… Riding unicycle - no pain! :slight_smile:

So, if you have someone who can not ride bike because of iliosacral injury or lumbodynia - let them try unicycle :smiley:

Also I use kidney belt - some relief detected.

In the middle of a quite incredibly inspiring post I spotted this:

So you reckon that slacklining helped you with balance to ride a uni and paddle a surfski? Interesting - I also paddle a surfski, amongst numerous other balance sports (windsurfing, XC skiing, rollerblading etc.) and haven’t been all that convinced that the balance I’ve developed from doing those has helped me at all with riding a uni. The kayaking in particular seems totally different balance being a sitting down thing where all the balance is through your bottom - and my flatwater kayak is far more tippy than a surfski (here’s a gratuitous pic of it with a uni - it doesn’t sit up straight when empty even without a uni in).

Though I suppose it probably is true when people comment that I must have good balance - though I reckon most of what people would normally think of as balance (being able to stand on one leg on a narrow beam etc.) comes from the XC skiing/rollerblading.

I broke my back in '99 and have partial paralysis in my legs (mostly below the knees but also the hips & glutes), so learning to uni was very hard.

In order to walk I wear AFO’s (ankle foot orthodics - see avatar). when walking around the house w/o them I look like a penguin. While wearing them I have a really wierd limp, running is impossible, and walking is slow and painfull (I try not to do any more than 50 ft. at a time). If I did a lot of walking I’d start to have repetitive stress issues in my left knee and back. W/ normal fitness, for me, I have a hard time riding smooth and streight but it’s way less problematic than walking.

A while ago on a Muni ride I snaped my left brace in half in a UPD, so I replaced it w/ an uncomfortable, unsuportive cheap brace I got online. I love Muni but to ride well and safely I have to train hard (in order of importance; hip flexors, lower abs, obliques, glutes, upper hamstrings and lower back) and w/o a supportive brace it’s impossibe, killing most of my desire to work-out. When I’m in good Muni shape and good AFO’s I can walk w/o a noticable limp. Once when I was in my best shape since my accident and had two working AFO’s I suddenly noticed myself running 5 paces.

So no technical uni riding (I can mtb moderately tech terrain) or tricks untill I get new braces. (The one’s I want require 90 deg. or less of ankle flexability, right now mine is ~100 deg. but slowly improving o:) When I do I’ll get back into Muni shape and then w/ the right training and coaching I bet running short distances will be possible.

Normally I b*ke my commute (4.5 mi over a huge hill), but if it’s not working I drive, park off campus, and uni to each class. Bike’s in the shop now, so I’m w/ my 26". Since I’m not in Muni shape it bothers my back a bit (again way less than walking) but 1/4 the speed of the bike so I’m usually a bit late to classes (twice as fast as walking though).

I had a deficiency with my hip flexors that slacklining targetted. It allowed me to improve in other activities at a more normal rate, instead of frustratingly slowly.

How do you handle UPDs?

Yep, hip flexors are really important for me too. What do you do to train them?