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Cycling - My panacea

CertifriedCCertifried Posts: 91
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Exercise and Rehab
For some amazing (and very lucky) reason, I have no back pain while I'm cycling. I don't know if it's the increased blood flow, the pain in my knees that takes my mind off my back (LOL), or just the position I'm in while cycling. One of those, or something else, virtually eliminates my back pain when I'm cycling.

Last Friday, May 18th, was "Bike to Work Day", and so I did. ~20 miles from home to work, and another 20 back. I've been cycling for a few months now (after a 10 year break) and have really felt a lot better. Now, today, after sitting here in a very high level of pain (you know the kind, even the drugs barely take an edge off), I'm realizing that I need to just bike to work every day.

When I take the DC Metro, it takes me roughly 1:15 to 1:20 in both directions. My ride home (the harder 1/2 of the ride) only took about 1:40, and I'm betting I can shave some time off as I get in even better shape. So, that's what I'm going to focus on and push myself towards.

Anyone else have great success with cycling, or any other form of exercise that really reduces their pain levels?


  • That is good to hear. I am thinking about dusting my bike off now too. I was a bit hesitant incase I made my back worse but you have encouraged me to do it!
    I already swim and walk, not noticed any pain improvement with either but I do like to be active for my peace of mind.
  • I thought about making it worse, but I've asked my doctor in the past about exercises I can do. The only real restriction I have is to not lift more than 20 pounds. That's 110% legitimate too, as I've tried to lift 25 at the gym and it starts to hurt pretty quick. I end up doing a lot of "supported" lifting where my back isn't having any stress put on it at all.

    Cycling is something my doc said wouldn't be a problem, but he always says "stop if it hurts". Having an absence of pain while I cycle, I'm sure he'd say "uh.. do it more then dummy".

    I've had some pretty bad pain for the past 2 days, and coincidentally I haven't cycled for a few days. I'm beginning to correlate "lesser-pain" days with cycling days. Unfortunately, I'm also usually a huge skeptic haha. I don't think the cycling will actually improve my back (it probably will a little as I build muscle mass) but I absolutely know it helps me mentally to deal with the pain. And, I've learned that ANY little bit helps.
  • Hi,

    I am envious you are riding so much. I used to ride all the time, commute to work, weekends, races. After my fusions I still rode until the last one which was L5/S1. Now I have too much of a solid block of bone on my SI joint and it is rebelling.

    I can ride without pain but boy I pay for it later. Its not worth it. I am in PT hoping that strengthening that area (which is already strong) will allow me to ride again. My PT thinks so but it will be a lot of hard work.

    My SI issues also prevent me from walking like I used to be able to do. But I can still swim and that is my savior. It is so wonderful to be weightless in the water.

    Good luck and keep riding!!

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Good to hear about your swimming, it's great to have something (no matter what it is) to be able to keep us active and moving. It's not just the physical aspect of it, but very much a mental part too. Cycling, running, swimming, walking, crawling, whatever it is I encourage anyone to keep at it.

    I cycled in to work yesterday, 21 miles, and my pain levels were a notch lower. They had been severe over the past week, but the cycling day brought it down just a little. Even a little, every little bit helps and I'll take it!

    Have you tried cycling in a recumbent bike? That's what I'm going to do if the back ever progresses to where I can't ride a regular bike. Recumbent bikes look very comfortable and I've known a few people who rode them due to really bad backs.
  • Several people have suggested that and I am going to look into it when I get the ok to try and ride again. Right now the SI joint has to be calmed down and made stronger before I can try any of the things that are currently giving me pain. Of course I would rather ride my racing bike, but hey, if it has to be a recumbent so be it.

    Hopefully I will get to try one out this summer.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • CertifriedCCertifried Posts: 91
    edited 09/13/2012 - 10:35 AM
    So, it's been a few months now, and I'm cycling more and more. I switched jobs, and my commute went up to about 35 miles if I were to bike the entire distance. I figured out a way to cycle to a DC Metro station, and catch an express to knock off 10 miles of that. So my commute is 20 miles, followed by a bus ride, then another 3.5 miles from the bus stop to work. I'm not doing it every day yet, still working on that, and being careful not to hurt myself by trying too much too soon. I'm up to 2 solid days a week, and going for 3 now. It's a 47 mile round trip ride, and I love it.

    I went from thinking that the cycling didn't really help too much other than being more fit and mentally able to deal with the pain better, to being convinced the cycling actually directly lowers the pain levels. The increased circulation in the back, the stronger muscles in the legs and spine, and the better general fitness level all work much more effectively than I first gave credit for. My pain levels are several numbers lower. On days I feel a "3 out of 10", I know if I had not biked I would be around a 5/10. I still have plenty of pain, but it is definitely less than before I started to bike.

    I just had an RFA on the right lumbar levels (L3/4 to S1) today, so will be off the bike a few days. I know this will cause my pain levels to go up. If I don't ride for a few days, the pain definitely increases. I had an RFA on the SI joints 6 weeks ago, and am doing awesome from that. Now I just have the left side lumbar to do (if the pain is actually significant, it doesn't seem that it is) and some disc issues (bulging). Just to do it all over again in 9 months when the nerves grow back LOL.

    So, anyone who is contemplating cycling, or even if you're not but think you can, just a few miles a day can significantly help the pain! You don't have to be crazy insane like me and try to bike to work 47 miles a day, just get up and do something. I wasn't at all convinced it was helping at first, but have no doubts now that cycling has really lowered the pain.
  • Cycling had long been my activity. With some back problems and now a recent L5-S1 laminectemoy due to a bad herniation, I've been of my bike for 3 months. I normally do over 3000 miles per year, so I'm worried about not getting back on. I won't rush it, but I'd love to hear you are still riding.
    L5-S1 herniation (10mm), April 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy May 1st 2013

    Lumbar Laminectomy April 18th 2016

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