Unicycling Saved My Life

OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but not so far fetched either.

There’s been some talk on various posts about back issues, so I thought I would share about mine and how unicycling has really changed things for me.

During our first lockdown here in South Africa I managed to herniate the lowest disc in my spine. The pain was excruciating and it took a couple of months to get anywhere close to normal in terms of mobility and being free from pain. A few months after the hernia I was still suffering from the symptoms of it (frozen calf & tingling in my toes), but was no longer in real pain.

I had to stop running so I dusted off my KH29er, put a road tire on it and began riding 10+ks twice a week, which really helped build my core strength. My chiropractor encouraged me to see an Orthopedic Surgeon who sent me for an MRI. The MRI revealed that the herniated disc had collapsed, which was why I was still getting the symptoms of the herniation. To cut a long story short, the surgeon recommended an Anterior L5-S1 Fusion operation, but when I expressed my concerns (not least the appalling success rate) he advised that I undertake some intensive core/abs exercises as being the only other way to a normal healthy life.

I’ve cycled all my life and began unicycling in '99 but never really took it too seriously. Now suddenly I was taking my unicycling very seriously and having built up some distance riding on my 29er decided to dust off my Nimbus Nightrider Impulse 36er and really get going. I now ride at least twice a week usually for at least 20ks each time

I saw my chiropractor recently and he was amazed to hear that I have zero pain in my back. I also have a lot more mobility than I did when I first herniated the disc too.

I still Box four times a week and I love the fact that at almost 55 my core and abs are so strong that the youngsters can’t keep up with me when we’re doing sit-ups and other core exercises and I really enjoy the jump/skipping rope.

The positive changes and improvements in my back are all down to the unicycling, which obviously gives a core workout like nothing else.

So any one got any back or other health issues which have been helped by unicycling?

12 Likes

I can relate, even though my story is very different. I got a knee injury when i was quite young, the “wise-men” always told me that there was nothing wrong, but I could feel it.
Then sudden they could see something, that was about a year ago. My surgeon told me I shouldn’t run any more, which was the most impactful news I have ever had to face and realize. I was planning marathons and had always been running a lot.
I came across ed pratt and unigezeer by accident last summer and that’s when i bought a 20" and spend my summer vacation learning. A month later I got the 29" and I was off.

5 Likes

I hear you about the running, I really miss it, but the unicycling really does have a massively positive impact on your fitness.

It does.

In Sydney we are in lockdown but where I live, residents can go up to 5km from home for exercise. Unicycling is a good option. I have forest nearby (yay!!) so I’m muni-ing a lot now, and always seeing some improvement. :slight_smile:

Normally I would have been doing weekly pole and aerial tissue classes, but they aren’t options atm. I just wish I had some big river cycle paths too in my 5km, but anyway, I’ll take what I’ve got.

3 Likes

I got into it when at Drama School / university and the pace of the training was massively messing with my sanity and mental health. Basically actor training wasn’t doing me any good and out of the fuzz of this “bad time” I found unicycling.

I remember the joy and confidence it gave me when learning - not to mention it helped clear my head and make me feel in my body. Hence my moniker / “name” - mindbalance - coming from a pretty life changing epiphany around: Mind Your Balance, Balance Your Mind.

I remember when I cracked unicycling skill proper I had the feeling the earth :earth_africa: was being rolled under my feet :foot:… that it was rotating under me, and I was walking atop the ball/globe - when just walking down the street!

Drama School dust has long settled and I’m at one with all things. You could even say I’m at One-wheel with all things and the evolution/revolution of my life has tracked true since getting balanced by mono-cycling my way across tricky terrain :heart:

4 Likes

So far I’ve lost 50 lbs doing this. There’s another 30 to go, at which point I’ll be as slim as I was in high school.

3 Likes

Good job on the weight loss and good luck on the other 30.

That’s a cool story! Once we were riding as a group in one of the forests around Paris and we bumped into a jogger who used to unicycle. He told us that he had to give up on unicycling after getting a herniated disc and that twisting was really bad for him. I guess he was into mountain unicycling where you indeed twist more violently compared to road riding.

2 Likes

How wonderful. I had the same surgery as you. Today is post surgery day 164. I have been riding the 26 inch unicycle but hope to be back on the 36 soon

1 Like

I’m quite surprised by this. The impact of each stride on the spine and especially the herniation can be very painful. I guess his hernia healed fully with no further complications, which allows him to run.

yes you are refering to François M. who taught me how to muni (a loooong time ago :wink: ) I was really surprised by his ailments… I still don’t understand since he then turned to ultra long trails (which is, in my humble opinion, not good for you spine). But apparently he is fine with that.
for me I got some back ache (while performing twists) but when I ride my back and my “love handles” :blush: are happy!
BTW unicycling also changed my life by bringing me zen attitude!

Yes that’s him!
I remember not being surprised by the “giving up uni” side of the story - my wife has had a herniated disc, and twisting can still cause pain. But indeed I was surprised by the jogging aspect. But since he was running in the woods, softer than running on asphalt, it made sense that jogging could work. Completely forgot he’s into trail running too!
How’s your riding @wobbling_bear these days? I remember you having to take a break, you’re back on the wheel? I’ll be done with my current project in a couple of weeks and would love to do a ride in the woods with our “usual suspects”!