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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bittersweet since I rode SS 90% and geared full suspension 10%. 2 years ago L leg pain some numbness radiating L hamstring. MRI about a year ago L5S1 disc herniation. Minimal riding and chiropractor I'm back but riding geared full suspension. I definitely miss the simplicity of my Air 9 Carbon. Also, it's where it all began for me back in the 70's when BMX came out no suspension, no gears. 45 years later at the age of 55, I consider myself extremely lucky to have the health to be back on the saddle again. Having the luxury working with several ortho-spine surgeons, their recommendation was go easy on my back and go geared full suspension. It's time to move on.:rockon:
 

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Same injury but guess I'm lucky because cycling doesn't bother my back. Even riding rigid single speed.

Maybe a combo of the Thudbuster and new bike that allows plus tires would work for you. Throw in a steel frame and you might be back on a single speed HT with no back issues.
 

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WillWorkForTrail
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Herniated disc here as well. I spent 4 years not being able to ride a regular bike at all - I switched to recumbent bikes. Over time, working with a chiropractor, I was slowly able to get back on an upright bike, and went straight onto a single speed for the obvious cost reasons - I’d sold my last geared upright bike when I didn’t honestly believe I’d ever be able to ride it again. Maybe give it some time, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to ride your SS again.
 

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Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
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Herniated disc here as well. I spent 4 years not being able to ride a regular bike at all - I switched to recumbent bikes. Over time, working with a chiropractor, I was slowly able to get back on an upright bike, and went straight onto a single speed for the obvious cost reasons - I'd sold my last geared upright bike when I didn't honestly believe I'd ever be able to ride it again. Maybe give it some time, but there's no reason you shouldn't be able to ride your SS again.
This is closer to my experience.
Bulged / herniated L5S1 when I was 47.
Couldn't ride a regular bike. Unwilling to give cycling up, bought a recumbent. (I actually enjoyed riding it a lot, though obviously no off-road riding.)
Paid attention to my posture (especially while sitting) and stretched religiously. Sciatica waned.
Took singlespeeding up the following spring.
Two years from the date of my injury I completed a 100 mile mountain bike race that includes over 17,000' elevation gain/loss. Aboard a singlespeed.
Don't give up just yet. A bulged disc may not be the death sentence it initially appears to be.
=sParty
 

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I've had chronic issues with my back for years, degenerative disc disease. I agree with what the others have said. First take some time to rest, then go to a physical therapist (I didn't get much out of chiropractor, but each specialist is different) and stick to the plan, core workouts (plank, dead bug, bird dog) and avoid twisting or standing and bending stretches. Use a belt to stretch your hamstrings while laying on your back on the floor, one leg at a time. It helps me personally to stretch my calves first then hamstrings. I've also found I like to have movements to maintain range of motion, so yoga can be helpful. I'd like to look into Pilates, but gym membership and additional fees ain't happenin'. It's not the end of the world, though it may feel like it for a few days after the initial episode. I still have yet to try a recumbent or FS (for any length of time).

One thing to keep in mind is to be patient, don't force yourself to over stretch or hyper/hypo-extend your back. Stretch easy, go to the edge and hold the stretch. It may be easier at first to have someone help you if you feel like you are not relaxed with the exception of the muscle being stretched/used. Stay in a comfort zone but keep moving until you can start to improve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Holy smokes!! Thanks for the responses & inspiration. I’m back riding so I just have to give it more time. I read a book by Esther Gokhale about a year ago emphasizing the importance of back mechanics which I incorporated while riding. I’m ordering the Thud Buster post to minimize the stress on my back while sitting. I’ve been riding using the handlebars to balance and not pull so there’s additional stress on my back. I have to be able to do the same standing on steep climbs so there’s no additional force transfer to my lower back. Once again, thanks for the suggestions allowing me to keep the SS passion alive.😊
 

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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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If you're committed to riding SS (or at least want to explore options) take a look at some of the full squish options for SS out there.

I'm on an older SweetSpot Schwinn as an SS and I love it.
 

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achiever
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I'm in the same boat & it looks like my work to get fit for this year's SM100 was for naught. L5/S1 herniation currently causing me all kinds of trouble. Back seized up as I was opening an overhead door. Haven't been able to ride in 2 weeks & I'm going nuts! Had been riding a rigid Farley 9.6 SS with 29x3's. I don't think my back can take that anymore. A doctor friend I ride with has been through the same thing & he advised me to put on gears & a suspension fork so I threw gears on my Soma Juice (with Sid on the front) & hope to spin some dirt roads this weekend.

Maybe I can handle a hardtail but I like to do big rides -6hrs is not uncommon with 3 or 4 shorter rides per week. Honestly, I think a full suspension bike is the way to go. The first time the disc really affected me was back in 2015 & it took well over a year for it to get to the point that I could ride regularly again. That much time off the trails is not at all good for my mental health. Looking like a full suspension build will be happening next spring, I just don't see any other way for me to put in the volume I want without it.
 

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I would echo what everyone else says about doctors/physical therapy. I wound up with a herniated S disc and two fractured vertebrae (L) after getting hit by a car. Two years later, and being knocked down by another illness, I am absolutely riding. Stamina isn't quite there, but I'm not being held back by back pain.

I can't say it enough: don't suffer, go to a respected doctor in your area (ask friends, someone has had to do it), and get their opinion. Step two would be getting a bike fit by, again, a respected professional in your area; just because they do road bikes all the time, doesn't mean it applies to your mountain bike.

Also, consider that when I was coming off my injury, 30 minutes of riding was *a lot* once a week. Prior to that, I had been riding 8-10 hours a week, and I'm now back up to [just off road] 5 hours or so. Yes, you may need to put on multiple gears, but you may find that getting back to singlespeed is not impossible.
 

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Prevention?

As a fellow single-speed and rigid rider, I stumbled on this thread. Currently 43 w/o back problems (knocks on wood), and would like to avoid such problems in the future.

What would you say is the cause of the back problems you're experiencing? Riding rigid? Strain from single-speed tough climbs? Repetitive motion? Trauma (the case for the car hit guy, sorry!)?

/subscribed
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If I had to do it all over, I would use all legs on steep climbs using handlebars for balance. Don’t pull on the handlebars to get additional downward force on the pedals. This may have contributed to my herniated disc. The seatpost that has some give may also help. Body mechanics also plays important role while riding. Keeping it straight and not flexed while riding has done wonders for me. A book for those with back issues by Esther Gokhale explains it in details. My 2 cents.
 

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achiever
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My original herniation stems from disc degeneration, I think. That injury put me down for quite a while & I finally came back, stronger than ever til the reinjury. It wasn’t due to SS but I’m pretty sure rigid was a contributing factor seeing as how 3 days after a 54 mile 6 hour race on brutal terrain it flared up again.

I’m going to try to stay on a hard tail, if possible. I figured out I can run a Rockshox RS1 with 29x3 tires on my Farley so that’s the way I’m going. Should be rebuilding the bike next week but I have to find somebody to (re)build my wheel. I think I could do it myself, I understand how it’s done but I can’t afford to screw up my Derby rim & this would be my first wheel build so I plan to leave it to someone who has experience.
 

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As a fellow single-speed and rigid rider, I stumbled on this thread. Currently 43 w/o back problems (knocks on wood), and would like to avoid such problems in the future.

What would you say is the cause of the back problems you're experiencing? Riding rigid? Strain from single-speed tough climbs? Repetitive motion? Trauma (the case for the car hit guy, sorry!)?

/subscribed
9 times out of 10 for me, back pain is related to not consistently doing my core-strengthening exercises every 2-3 days (5-10 minutes of work, not what I would consider 'difficult', even during the active recovery period). Strain/over exertion is the other bit. Basically, you remove the chances of those things happening; gear down, go slower, walk sketchy stuff, etc. I was lucky (make no mistake about that) that my injury was not so bad that it prevents me from [currently] living my life as I want. The future may hold other things, including surgery to stabilize the fractured vertebrae, but for right now, being active/continuing my exercises keeps it in check.
 

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I’m 59 with several back problems over many years (mostly related to dirt bikes). For me, best thing was allowing time to heal. After last herniated disk (KTM 300), several docs said take an entire year off. No running, biking, lifting, etc. It worked. Back is best it’s been in 40 years. Sold dirt bike. Changed from FS XC mtn bike to an all mountain FS mtn bike. Much plusher in local forested single track. Still occasionally take SS hard tail out, but only on easy trails.
 

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Physical Therapist here...(what follows is my personal stance on the matter, combined with current evidence and should be taken as a suggestion. As everyone is different, this cannot be a blanket statement).

While I agree some time away from your single speed/rigid bike might be helpful throughout your recovery, I do not agree that completely giving up / retiring is the best answer.

Our spines are incredibly strong structures, herniated discs do diminish over time (or can become completely pain free). In reality, if you were to take an x-ray or MRI of everybody's spine, you would see more than 80% of us have what is considered a "herniated disc" but majority of those with the radiographic findings of a herniated disc are painfree and fully functional. Also, by the time we are 30, >70% of us show signs of "degeneration" or "degenerative disc disease or DDD" (arthritis) but should be viewed as normal wear and tear on your spine (not abnormal!). Therefore, ultimately, herniated discs and DDD are not death sentences. Simply moving, sneezing, riding, lifting may be painful but unless you show significant and worsening neurologic symptoms, then this pain is not indicative of damage but rather muscular discomfort and misinterpreted signals.

Best medicine: stay active and keep moving within reason, add a dash of patience and stay strong. Core/trunk strength and stability is always helpful but do not neglect or overlook gross body strength and conditioning beyond what we get from simply riding...even SS.

Again, this is the best current evidence on low back pain. I know a lot of you folks will disagree or have some story that does not fall in line with this. Again, refer to my opening statement. This is meant to allay anxieties and worries about a painful low back in general!!
 

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Very much appreciate your response, thank you. Starting PT in a few days. I've been out a few times on my recently converted to geared bike with a suspension fork & I can ride pretty well considering I could barely walk 2 weeks ago. I felt really good on the bike & took it a few gears easier on the hills where I'm usually straining with everything I've got to turn the cranks. I'm sure I'll get back to SS when I'm 100% (or as close as I'll get to that) but for now, if I want to ride, geared it is!

Physical Therapist here...(what follows is my personal stance on the matter, combined with current evidence and should be taken as a suggestion. As everyone is different, this cannot be a blanket statement).

While I agree some time away from your single speed/rigid bike might be helpful throughout your recovery, I do not agree that completely giving up / retiring is the best answer.

Our spines are incredibly strong structures, herniated discs do diminish over time (or can become completely pain free). In reality, if you were to take an x-ray or MRI of everybody's spine, you would see more than 80% of us have what is considered a "herniated disc" but majority of those with the radiographic findings of a herniated disc are painfree and fully functional. Also, by the time we are 30, >70% of us show signs of "degeneration" or "degenerative disc disease or DDD" (arthritis) but should be viewed as normal wear and tear on your spine (not abnormal!). Therefore, ultimately, herniated discs and DDD are not death sentences. Simply moving, sneezing, riding, lifting may be painful but unless you show significant and worsening neurologic symptoms, then this pain is not indicative of damage but rather muscular discomfort and misinterpreted signals.

Best medicine: stay active and keep moving within reason, add a dash of patience and stay strong. Core/trunk strength and stability is always helpful but do not neglect or overlook gross body strength and conditioning beyond what we get from simply riding...even SS.

Again, this is the best current evidence on low back pain. I know a lot of you folks will disagree or have some story that does not fall in line with this. Again, refer to my opening statement. This is meant to allay anxieties and worries about a painful low back in general!!
 

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This is my biggest fear. If I could not ride a SS hardtail, I'd sell it all and take up birdwatching or Dungeons and Dragons because I could not afford to buy a modern FS bike, let alone maintain one.
 

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Very much appreciate your response, thank you. Starting PT in a few days. I've been out a few times on my recently converted to geared bike with a suspension fork & I can ride pretty well considering I could barely walk 2 weeks ago. I felt really good on the bike & took it a few gears easier on the hills where I'm usually straining with everything I've got to turn the cranks. I'm sure I'll get back to SS when I'm 100% (or as close as I'll get to that) but for now, if I want to ride, geared it is!
Gear down and spin a bit when you first come back to ss too.

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