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Athlete/Road cyclist post L4/L5 microdiscectomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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: 7,385
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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