Unicycling elbow?

My left elbow is bothering me (pain, stiffness, but nothing too debilitating), and I suspect it’s due to riding my heavy-ass 36er on twisty trails and the resulting torque (if that’s the word I’m after) while holding the seat handle with my left hand. Has this happened to anyone else?

Or maybe I’ve been sleeping on my elbow funny. Who knows?

I experienced a similar situation (shoulder pain) three months after starting to unicycle. I was flailing only right arm and using left to grab firmly the seat handle. I started to stretcht slowly every day the shoulder and get one week of break. I started again switching hands on the handle… I needed to learn again how to lean on every side, but the shoulder pain went away.

When I hold one hand on the seat, I only get cramp in the hand that floats around giving me balance. I think flailing is a negative word for beginning unicyclists having both hands in the air. With only one hand in the air, it can be seen like the tail of a cat to help maintain balance :slight_smile:

When on the road, I focus on riding with 2 hands on the seat and otherwise alternating between hands, also when riding off-road.

I have that pain right now!! Went out yesterday to practice hopping, small jumps and backwards riding. A lot of pulling up on the seat. Problems arise when I mis-time the pull and only succeed in stretching my arm. Previously I really did it all wrong by jumping up while pulling with arm at full stretch, that hurt for days.

At first, I thought I injured my left elbow while lifting weights, but now I’m 98.3 percent certain it’s from riding my 36er off-road, which is a recent activity. I’ve been riding these twisty trails for years on my 29er with zero problems regarding my elbow; I think the size and weight of my 36er is the contributing factor.

So I’m taking a break from off-road 36-ing (as much fun as it is). Once the pain subsides, I’ll give it another try, albeit with more hands-free riding and, if need be, getting used to alternatively grabbing the seat handle with my right hand, as weird as that feels.

Holding the handle of my 36" with my left hand only often gives me some back ache when dealing with bumpy rides.

tennis elbow?

Hmm… not sure. I’ve been doing a fair bit of off-road 36 riding and haven’t experienced anything like that.

However, about 2 years ago when I upped my riding at bit, I did have a bout of tennis elbow with my brake hand (my right). But it was from riding my 26 downhill and over-taxing the muscle on the outer side of the forearm from the strange brake-holding-position with the wrist bent forward and the fingers back on the brake lever and seat grip. It was pretty bad and went on for 3+ months. I eventually found that stretching the muscle by turning my arm and stretching the wrist helped a lot and then in a few months after starting the frequent stretching the problem went away (I suspect I built up the muscles/tendons after alleviating the swelling with the stretching).

Otherwise, I’ve had more minor problems with the balancing arm/shoulder. A few weeks ago riding downhill I did a “spin out” on a rocky section where the wheel slipped out from under me while I was still pedalling so my weight then went quickly back, so I kind of flew forward airbourne with my body in a horizontal position and then crashed to the ground on my butt (I actually have a helmet-cam video of it and suddenly you see the entire length of my body down to my toes in FRONT of me going down the trail). There I made some slight tears in my left shoulder when I slammed into the ground while my left arm was flailing around trying to keep my balance (of course didn’t work with both feet on the pedals and the tire in the air in front of me).

Is it more like tennis elbow or a muscle tear or a bruise? with the primary difference being the latter 2 heal after 4-6 weeks, while the tennis elbow can persist for months if you keep aggravating it.

On a side note I had a great 36er experience today: after riding a whole lot of 29/26 downhill with short cranks (I rode 12 of 14 days on a 10-day trip to the Alps of South Tirol Italy about 2 weeks ago) mostly “Villanders style” with short cranks, e.g. 127mm for 29 and 117mm for 26 (they ride 110s for 27.5 for super steep downhill), I suddenly have unbelievable control on the 36er with both 100s and 125s: yesterday I did relatively steep uphill and downhill in the Alps with 100s (I was just playing around and 2 friends on mountain bikes suddenly started for a ride and I decided to tag along, assuming I would’t be able to with 100s and then I did the whole ride with 100s). On the 100s I was able to ride up some forest roads around 15% (still walked some) and then downhill on wet steep single track I felt totally in control. Then today I swapped to 125mm cranks and I can idle pretty well (about 10 back-and-forth) and do super-tight 180 and circles and have awesome control. It’s amazing! And short steep hills feel easy on the 36! I’ve pretty much decided I will try with 36 with 125mm cranks for the XC race of the Italian Muni race next weekend! Should be a blast! I’m even contemplating doing the uphill with the 36 and ? maybe 150s?? (on a pre-ride of the course 2 weeks ago I had trouble clearing one bumpy spot on the 29 with 127s, so I would have to be way stronger).

Oh, it’s definitely akin to tennis elbow. There’s no bruising, swelling or redness, but there’s persistent soreness and it’s tender in one spot. So, I guess I’ll stay off the trails on my 36er for a while.

I will give this a try. Thanks.

I have also experienced different types of soreness or muscle strain from different types of riding; usually from activities that aren’t what I do most of the time, or from doing “the usual” for much longer, as we train for a 100k.

What I get from this thread is that the demographic here at the Unicyclist Forums has gotten a lot older than it used to be! Let’s all talk about our ailments and where it hurts!

Okay then. On Saturday I had a great ride on one of my favorite technical trails, what we call the Clementine Loop in Auburn. Toward the end, (most of the technical riding is in the second half), my lower back was getting more and more weary. I usually hold the seat with one hand, but the vast majority of my riding is now on the 36" with both hands on a relatively long handle. So my upper body is being supported. For bumpy Muni, I’m pulling up on that handle more than I am leaning on it, which means my lower back is supporting my upper body as I lean forward in a “bump absorbing” posture.

Sometimes my “balance arm” (what I generally call Flailing arm, but only because that’s a funny word to me) gets tired at the shoulder because, again, most of my riding is now on 36" with a handle, and usually I’m holding onto it.

What the content of this thread may say in general, is that too much of a good thing can be bad for you, and to take it in moderation as your body builds in response to the activity. :slight_smile:

tennis elbow stretch

Yes, that stretch worked wonders! A doctor friend of mine recommended it and I had really good results.

I’ll see if I can describe it:

Stretch the injured arm straight out in front of you with the palm up (i.e. elbow pointing down).
Then use the other hand to grab the hand on the backside near the wrist and bend the injured hand at the wrist inward (folding up and toward your face).
Slowly press the wrist to the maximum extension while simultaneously “shrugging” the shoulder of the injured arm to really straighten the elbow.

For me the tension release on the tendon/muscle band on the outer side of the forearm below the elbow was immediately noticeable!

When mine was bad I was doing that stretch about 4-5 times per day as well as before/during/after any rides (the pain was often so bad I couldn’t continue riding without the stretch!)

I’ve also had a bit of the unicycle elbow. Since then I try to consciously ease my grip (when on challenging sections it’s a reflex to hold on tight, but that strains the elbow). Also switching hands is good.

Uni elbow > Tennis elbow - Stretch to recover

+1 for this solution.

I also had this elbow issue after I started seriously riding muni. I searched online for Tennis elbow stretches and followed a few videos (similar to the exercises described by MUCFreerider). After a few weeks it was better and did not return.

Good to hear!! Mine is completely gone for over 2 years and has not returned!