Unicycling for Rehab?

I am recovering form a back surgery. I am thinking of incorporating unicycling into my rehab. I think that unicycling would not only provide good cardio, but build core muscle strength better than bicycling. I have ridden 20" unicycles before, and I am certain that I could get on one again right now and ride. I am thinking of getting a 36" for cruising and conditioning. I don’t plan on doing stunts, and I am not planning on falling alot? Any input/feedback would be appreciated.

i’d say as long as you are far enough along in riding that you won’t crash or are far enough along in your recovery that a crash won’t hurt you, then go for it. it beats a bike any day.

As much as I like unicycling, I would advise against it. I’m no doctor or anything, but I think it would be too easy for something to happen to re-injure the back. There are so many micro balance adjustments that happen while you ride that would probably be ok, but every now and then there are those big quick emergency adjustments that need to be made that could easily hurt your back again - and it only takes one. I would recommend waiting until you are fully recovered before riding a unicycle.


I think that a smaller unicycle like a 20" would work quite well but would stay away from 36ers till you are healed. You do less twisting and adjusting with a 36 because of the stability of the massive wheel but you fall a whole lot harder (both higher and faster).

I think a small unicycle could be quite effective rehab and relatively safe but a big wheel would not help you as much and be more dangerous.

I agree with the S guy. I have not had back surgery but a bad back. I ride a 36 and that kicks my butt. I think you would do great with with a 26" torker or something like that. You can get a good work out at 4 miles with that size wheel. You are also right about it being a great core exercise. Stay away from the 36 until you are healed fully or at least conditioned real well.

Honestly, I would ask your doctor. I dont think anyone on this forum knows enough about your condition to say honestly if its safe or not. Myself, I have to wait 1 more month before I ride a uni or skate. I dont like it but I dont want to rebreak my arm. So I’m listening. :angry:

I have back problems (I am pretty sure from unicycling). So I’m not sure if it’s a good idea if it can create injuries, though that does mean that it also works the back area a lot.

It may also be a bit painful to ride if you have serious back problems. I’m no expert, but I would say find something else.

  1. Ask your doctor.

  2. Anything comes with its inherint risks. I mean, come on, you could kill your back in a car crash which car crashes are extremely common.

You might hurt your back unicycling though, so, it may not be the best idea.

idk, ask your doctor. Otherwise i would suggest running maybe? idk.

your doctor probably knows ways to help your recovery though.

I wouldn’t ask a doctor because I doubt many would advise riding a unicycle even if you were 100% well. :wink:

Unicycling will strengthen your core, and that should help your back. Although, I agree with others that a 36er might be too much for you given your seeming lack of experience. The height and potential speed increases the chance of a bad fall. On the other hand I think a 29er could be good. You’ll still get a good workout without as much risk. Jumping off of a 29er is a lot less impacting than from a 36er. Of course, it’s your body. Do what you want.


good compromise.

Thank you for all your input. The riding that I was considering would be mostly flat bike paths. I would ask the doctor, but I don’t think that he, or many others, are to familiar with unicycling, that’s why I wanted to poll the unicycle community. As I said before, I am not planning on falling much. Is this just wishful thinking? I used to be able to ride a 20 as long as I wanted without falling. I also used to be able to ride up and down curbs, down flights of stairs, and down the length of a curb, although I sometimes fell trying these things, so I don’t intend to try them again. The type of injury that I had was caused by continuous, repetitive compression, resulting in a ruptured, herniated disc that was putting pressure on a nerve root.

I agree with what others said about avoiding the 36er. It is a lot higher and will go much faster than a 20-inch so you come down harder even on a planned dismount. It is also a lot harder to mount.

If you want to ride flat bike paths, think about a 29" or even a 26".

I own both a 29er and a Coker. While I have not weighed them, I think the Coker is about 3 times heavier than the 29er. A 36er is heavy.

I broke my back(compression fracture) and used unicycling for rehab. I felt the core work out and body position were perfect for stregnthening the back. I used a 36er but I think you need to be a pretty solid rider to avoid hurting yourself on it. If I had not been training for RTL, I think a 29er would be safer.

Interesting this came up. I hurt a knee running and i haven’t done any form of execise for the last 2 months and I haven’t unicycled for 3. I hurt my back about a month back.

I own a 29" with 100mm cranks and what’s damaging (for me) is not so much the riding but the initial getting up and later, getting off. I can’t exert as much force on my affected master leg so moving off from a static mount is difficult. When moving off, i tend to adjust my balance first and that hurts my back.

On dismounts, unlike bikes, there’s more twisting of the body in unicycling so that kinda hurts both my knee and my back too.

It’s really less injuring on the back on smaller unis because you don’t need to ‘step up’ to get on it. Still like what many in the group have said, consult your doctor. Mine told me that plain cycling for rehab is good.

i can already tell you what a doctor is gonna say. non riders think unicycles aree for crazy people. they don’t realize that riding a unicycle is like riding a bike for us now. all doctors are gonna say no. i’d say judge how you feel and go from there. if riding makes you hurt, don’t ride. simple as that. :slight_smile:

I disagree about the non-riders bit but I’ll agree that your doctor might not give the best advice being a non-rider. Unicycling is not like bicycling at all and as a non-rider, you doctor might actually give the go-ahead on unicycling based on that. Still, ask for an opinion. Knowing that you can’t bicycle pretty much concludes that you can’t unicycle either.

Riding my 36er on tarmac is not the best for my back. The tucked and rather static position creates tension in the lower back. Muni/XC on 24/29" is the opposite. There I constantly change body position and angle. I am also keeping the back more erect. Compared to road riding, muni gives me a much better core work out.