Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Athlete/Road cyclist post L4/L5 microdiscectomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:34 AM in Exercise and Rehab

Up until 5 weeks ago, I was in the best shape of my life. Cycling (racing) 250 miles a week. Lifting weights three times a week. Then one day, SEVERE sciatic pain. MRI showed a HUGE L4/L5, herniation. I opted for immediate microdiscectomy. Glad I did as it was a severe rupture.

Surgery was 16 days ago. Walking 3-5 miles a day. Doctor has given me the green light for the bike 4 weeks post surgery.

I am very interested in hearing advice from athletes who have returned after this procedure.



  • welcome to spine-health...theres a lot of people here to talk with and i'm sure some athletes will respond. sounds like youve done well from your surgery. from what i've read people after 2 weeks can usually return to their bicycle. just remember your spine is recovering and you dont want to stay in a seated position too long! hope to chat again and keep us posted on your progress!!!!
  • Nors,

    I opted for the microdiscectomy to fix a severe herniated L5/S1. I had my procedure 7.31.09. I am an avid cyclist & motorcycle rider. I am very interested, like you, in hearing from people who have had similar surgeries and returned to their previous physical activities.

    I am not up and walking 3-5 miles per day like you yet. My NS advised me to take it easy for the first 2-weeks. I walk a little & limit my sitting time.

    In another week I am going to start my PT. I plan on working diligently in order to strengthen my deep core muscles.

    Please let me know how it goes for you getting back on your bike. Are you going to change your riding position in any way.

    Best wishes for you and your recovery.

  • Yesterday I became one again with my bike. It was an easy ride, 5 miles, heart rate below 130, in the small ring - good cadence. No pain. It doesn't sound like much but the adrenaline rush was as good as completing any of the climbs in Spain.

    So, physical therapy twice a week started yesterday as well. In spite of his initial hesitancy, convinced the therapist to let me ride as long as I stayed on the flats and kept my posture good (luckily the doctor already gave me the green light for the 4 week mark). Doing the PT exercises after the ride -- with the leg stretches before.

    The nerve pain in the quadriceps is calming down. Tightening the core seems to reduce the discomfort --- so working on that when I walk and sit. Some slight soreness in the butt at the end of the day.

    Med free for the past five days with the exception of Advil.

    Finally, I've noticed over the past two weeks, that when I over do it (eg longer walks and/or car ride) --- the pain returns for 18-24 hours, so I end up dialing back the activity and seem to return stronger.
  • Hello Nors, like you I was an athlete - marathon runner and road cyclist. I had L4/L5 micro d end of Novenmber (12 years ago now) and was back on the bike by mid Feb and running again by end of March and have been running and cycling continuously ever since. Until my surgery last April and again this April that is. Now I'm impatiently trying to recover. When you have been very active all your life and suddenly can't do anything, it's really very hard.
    You sound like you are doing OK. Hope you continue to recover well and back cycling pain free.
    All the best
    Brian (London UK)
  • OK, I overdid it today... it has been 4 days in a row on the bike -- ten flat miles.

    A bit too fast and now my butt is sore -- not sure if its nerve or glute.. I think its nerve. Mild pain has returned in the quadricept .... take tomorrow off -- good night sleep. Physical therapy tomorrow.

  • At 6 weeks:
    Finally can climb hills on the bike.

    Two NSAIDs a day (Lodine). Quadricept and glute discomfort. Physical therapist tells me my right quad is 1" smaller than the left one.

    Touch my toes with no drama.

    At 7 weeks:
    Still on the NSAIDs, but the second one is later and later in the day. Its been two whole weeks without even one Percocet!

    Up to 100 miles a week on the bike, haven't tackled many hills. Can't jump out of the saddle, right side is still too weak.

    Doing an hour of PT a day (twice a week at the PT's office) PT is getting really aggressive --- hurts like ouch. PT says no weights yet.

  • I'm scheduled for microdicectomy L4-5. I'm an avid recreational road cyclist and curious how your rehab went in the long run. Advice?
  • Hello. This is the only blog I have come across regarding cycling and microdisectomy recovery. I had a microdisectomy of L3/4 disc a week ago. I can now walk a mile non stop. Regarding getting back into cycling, I have been told only walk for the first 6 weeks with three core exercises. I was wondering when is it safe to get back into road biking?
  • madmalmoommadmalmoo Posts: 2
    edited 10/05/2015 - 11:46 PM
    Hi everyone. Great to see people sharing there personal experience regarding getting back into cycling.
    5 weeks ago I had a L4/5 md. Rehab has been a frustratingly slow process. In that time I have been getting the occasional flare up after sitting in car or picking up our 2yr old who's way to cute.
    I've chosen to avoid the road bike and my hard tail mtb and put together an old Marin full suspension bike. This week I've done two 1 mile test rides more me than the bike. And I've not had any problems. My physiotherapist said to keep any straining to a minimum so there has been no off road or hills yet.
    I'm going to see my surgeon at the end of this week and get an update to my progress, I hope he says I can go on longer rides.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,940
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • All went very well with my surgeon the other day. I've been told it could be another 2-3 months before I'm back to where I was with my fitness before the op. The surgeon told me to take care with the level of exertion but longer rides are acceptable. So on Saturday I went out for a level ride of around 15 miles along the taff trail. Along this trail there is the chance to safely attempt little slopes for a few seconds to see what muscles are triggered at these moments. My belief is it was the safe and sensible option. For me I found it just about right. From now on I'm going to go out every couple days for short 4-5 mile rides with minimal climbs keeping in a low easy gear with the intention of keeping the lower back strain to a minimum. Probably playing things safe but suits me. Try to hard and I may go backwards. Only ever want to have the one operation, if that's possible.
  • rahishahrrahishah Posts: 1
    edited 10/21/2015 - 3:43 AM
    hello everyone, i had my op in April this year. I have been doing stretching and light strengthening exercise since but would like to start cycling. Post op all my sports activity is standstill - no soccer, no cricket and doc said to consider only next year onwards. I'm planning to start cycling to lose some fats that i have gained in last 6months. Hence, do advice or share your experience if you have encountered pain on lower back due to cycling. I'm thinking of doing 4-5km twice or thrice a week on flat road. I'm only 28 and dont want to take chance with relapse. I wish you all good health and stronger back!!


    There are no medical professionals on the forum side of this site. Therefore everything you read is based on the personal experiences and/or research done by the individual member. Comments should never be taken as pure medical facts. You need to discuss this with your doctor. They are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.

    Welcome to Spine-Health

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator
  • Rdb180283RRdb180283 Posts: 6
    edited 11/08/2015 - 9:37 AM
    Hello All

    I am due to have a microdiscetomy on 7th January for a bulging disc with a small anular tear at L4/L5. Previous to my injury I was cycling 150 miles a week and racing weekly though out the summer months. My injury occurred over a period of about 6 weeks and went over the edge after I changed my regular geometry road bike for an Aero bike. I spent 4 months not realising what my injury was as I was not experiencing typical sciatica. More of a chronic irritating pain which became much worse with any sort of proper exercising. Finally after being set on the right path I have spent the last 7 months working with physiotherapists and chiropractors trying to sort the problem out without invasive surgery.

    Unfortunately it seems conservative treatment has failed so I am due to have my operation in 8 weeks time. I am still able to be fairly active however have to be careful what I do as not to irritate the nerve. I am hoping to get a head start on my recovery by making sure my core muscles are supple and hopefully doing some strengthening work pre op. Any advise on which muscles to target would be much appreciated.

    FYI I am a 32 year old male with no other physical problems other than the bulging disc.



    The last thing you want to do is pick up advice from any member here on what gym exercises might be safe for you. No one here is qualified to give you that information. Even if they were a highly skilled personal trainer, they do not know you or your exact medical situation.
    Only your doctor can tell you what is safe and what is not. Also many times, a good physical therapist, one that you can trust and understands your situation can provide you this information.
    Disc herniation is too general and broad a condition. What might work fine for one person can spell trouble for another.
    All exercises need to be approved by your doctor and fine tuned by your therapists

    Please click on this link for spine-health information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz. Spine-health Moderator
  • Rdb180283RRdb180283 Posts: 6
    edited 11/08/2015 - 9:25 PM
    Hi Liz

    Thank you for taking the time to look at my message. I am working with my physio and have some stuff to be going on with, so will just stick to that. I was just interested to hear if anyone has been told about any pre op exercises to help with recovery. I will check in with my physio when I see him next.

    All the best

  • I was diagosed 22 years ago with MS following an MRI but due to my good health, my MS doc asked me to ride on the hospital MS150 event, where I became a top 100 fundraiser and have rode for 5 years without incedent. Returning from from a vacation trip, my right foot, which tingled, etc. I learned was due to a possible pinched sciatic nerve issue. Met with my MS Doc also from UTSW, a lumbar MRI was schuduled and done, revealing a herniated L4-L5 herniation and following the micro surgery 12/14 I ended up with drop foot condition.
    December 2015 will be my 1 year anniversary from a severe disc herniation. The surgeon in 2014 took over an hour because the amount of bone fragments. All went well and I was given hope that I would be playing golf, and when I was not physically able we returned to his office and he wanted to do another MRI and after reading about the surgery I thought a year was nesessary, so I made another appointment with another doctor, and after an x-ray and MRI I discovered that another surgery would only risk additional injury to the nerve. Is it possible to regain my original physical condition and will riding a stationary or street bicycle help, hinder or hurt my surgery and overall back recovery?
    I have played golf several times, and I have also had my first steroid injection two weeks ago. I am afraid about my back and leg recovery and would apprealciate your comments!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,940
    I was just wondering if your doctor gave you any perameters re your physical activity?
    I'm no way athletic, but I understand the passion of it.

    Also, have you double checked about the golfing? It just seems like a lot of twisting and bending to me.

    Even if you are able, another with similar situation may not be able to exercise that way.
    Same for if another can, you might risk reinjuring.
    Doctor knows you best!

    Good luck!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi All

    Quick update.......

    So had my microdiscectomy for l4 l5 prolapse disc 9 days ago.

    So far have been doing my physiotherapy 3 times daily (very light) and just graduated from 1 to 2 x 20 minute walks a day. Think I over did it a bit from day 5 to day 7 and paid the price in terms of inflaming the nerve and ended up with pain down the back of the leg. I understand now the need to take it really easy (which is hard with a young family!)

    Inflammation seems to be settling down but still on pain killers (diclofenac, paracetamol, coadine) not really any pain from the back but radiating down the leg.

    Seeing the surgeon in three weeks time, I hope to be in better shape by then.

    Will check back in then.

  • Hi All

    So yesterday I was given the green light to ride my bike again by my surgeon,this was 4 weeks & 5 days post op. I was told to literally just be spinning my legs at a low cadence in an easy gear. Physio said I should only be out for 10 minutes at a time for the first week then raise that by 5 minutes each week as long as I am not in any pain after ward. 

    Did not waste any time and went out same day,slightly misjudged the time / distance I could cover and ended up being out for 20 minutes in total (3.3 miles at 11mph Average on MTB on roads) I put this down to riding a lot slower than normal.Tried to keep it as flat as possible (hard when you live in the North Downs and live at the top of a hill!) 

    No immediate pain after the ride,in fact I felt like a had loosened thing up little (had been a bit tight with some itchy/ tingling that day). As I write this standing at my desk at work the leg is pretty much the same as yesterday before I went out, although I cam feel a tightness and intermittent tingling. I would put this down to general inflammation rather than anything more sinister.

    I intend to ride every other day and increase my time on the bike every two to 3 rides. I will however be scaling back to 10 minutes for my next ride and working from there.

    I will check back in in a couple of weeks.
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.