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Old 10-09-08, 10:08 AM  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Florida
Question Recumbent bike with low back pain?

So who has a recumbent bike and is able to use it successfully for a moderate intensity cardio workout even with low back and/or SI joint pain? I've had a flare-up that has lasted for almost two months now and it just will NOT go away this time (I'm 44 and have been dealing with back pain off and on for years). Even gentle walking and Leslie's workouts are bothering me, often causing the pain to travel down my left leg (in the front or side area) and sometimes into my foot with slight numbness and tingling. I've been to several doctors and all I seem to get from them are take ibuprofen (helps sometimes but not always) and muscle relaxants (can't tolerate their side effects and they don't help anyway). I've read a bit about recumbent bikes and am getting conflicting opinions on whether they are good or harmful for someone with low back pain. So I'm trying to figure out how to get my daily cardio in - 30 to 60 minutes daily about five times a week is my goal to prevent the weight gain that has started creeping up on me this year - and I'd would love to know what others maybe in a similar situation have found works for them.


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Old 10-09-08, 11:17 AM  
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Join Date: May 2003
Hi Tina,
I'm sorry I don't know anything about the recumbent bike, but I have plenty of personal experience with low back pain. I swear by my inversion table, which I got used off Craigslist. You might want to do a search here on VF for Viniyoga, Egoscue, and also Trigger Point therapy. Also, if you haven't already I would stop by a good running store or see a podiatrist about whether you need special shoes/inserts to correct an imbalance. Some people here have also healed their lower backs with kettlebell training (just be very careful on form) and with Miracle Balls.

Here is another old thread that may help. I hope you don't have to live with pain any longer!
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Old 10-09-08, 11:29 AM  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: st louis area
i used one at dh's work's gym during my 2nd pregnancy without any problems. it is a really good choice when you have low back pain.
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Old 10-09-08, 12:08 PM  
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Amelia Island FL
My recumbent is collecting dust right now but it is great if you have low back pain (as does my DH). Your back is supported the entire time and you can adjust how much you slouch in the big ole seat. But I think it depends on what kind of things bother your back. I'd try one at a fitness store.
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Old 10-09-08, 04:24 PM  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Victoria, Australia
Hi Tina, I have recurring bouts of lower back pain, and a couple of years ago, after lots of research, bought a Greenspeed recumbent trike (to ride outside, not an exercise bike). It is great! I was able to do a 500km supported ride in comfort with no sign of pain, which is more than I can say for my travel companion who had a very sore tush by the end of it.

During winter I have it set up on the roller indoors (takes up a lot of room) with the roller under the back wheel. Not quite the same thing but definitely exercise. Haven't used it so much lately, but I definitely recommend it.

The only draw back was the price, which was on the high side for me. One thing to watch out for on either a trike or an exercise trike is the angle of the seat as they vary quite a lot.
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Old 10-09-08, 09:06 PM  
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Upstate, NY
Something you might want to check is the bike fit. I could see how the wrong distance between the seat and the pedals could irritate your low back and SI.

If it's been bothering you this long, you should probably consider checking in with your doctor. A trip to a physical therapist might really be helpful.

One thing I know about myself--two things seem to affect my SI. First--if I let my core get weak. Second--if my hamstrings get weak and/or my hip flexors tight, my SI joint will start to bother me. The fitness fix videos really help, and the Barbara Benagh Yoga for Stress Relief (the SI practice).

I hope you feel better soon!
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Old 10-09-08, 10:13 PM  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Utah
I'd like to second the suggestion to go to a physical therapist. I have low back pain/SI joint issues that flare up every so often and it got really bad during my last pregnancy. I finally found a physical therapist who not only helps manipulate my SI joint back into the proper place, but shows me how to do certain manipulations at home to help it AND gives me exercises to strengthen the muscles that surround and that can affect the SI joint. He gave me alot of core work/stabilization exercises to do. It has made a big difference in my last episode of back pain. HTH!
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Old 10-10-08, 01:10 PM  
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Maryland, USA
I use one!

Hi Tina,

As a fellow back-pain sufferer you have my sympathies. I've had back issues on and off for years, they have gotten worse over the last several years (I think pregnancy and having a baby to tote around seriously aggravated the problem!) Last month, I finally broke down and went to a chiroprator - the diagnosis included a flattening of the natural lower back arch, shifting in my lower back (pelvic subluxation), muscle spasms and scoliosis. The treatments have helped tremedously, but I stil have a way to go.

The things he recommended for me to do exercise-wise were walking (flat incline, no hills) and Pilates (to decompress my spine), he advised against anything that compresses the spine (squats w/ weights, overhead lifting, etc.) Walking and Pilates have been very helpful. I also had a recumbant stationary bike that we bought several years ago for DH and I started using it about a month ago (to alleviate treadmill boredom, I can tolerate each machine for 20-30 minutes and by doing both I'm able to extend my cardio sessions w/out losing my mind!)- and it has been fine with my back. I just make sure I'm close enough to the pedals and that my seated posture is good. It has worked well for me, but I'm beginning to learn that every back is different and what is good for some may not be good for all. I don't have the radiating pain that you described into your legs and to me (caveat: I am untrained and have no medical experience whatsoever!) that sounds like a nerve issue that is worth checking into w/ a doctor who will actually listen to you and not tell you to take OTC pain relievers or muscle relaxers.

Anyway, just wanted to post my sympathies to you in dealing with this - it really is no fun at all. I used to do advanced workout videos and I'm pretty sidelined form doing that right now. I hope to get back to incorporating some of that stuff eventually - but I just keep going week to week happy to be able to do what I can - (Pilates, Treadmill, Bike, Leslie and gentle yoga).

On a tangent, I've heard good things about Classical Stretch for helping w/ back pain and have been thinking about trying it.

Take care!

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Old 10-13-08, 06:14 PM  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Florida
Thanks so much for all your suggestions (and concern ) I've decided against the recumbent bike, at least for now, because I'm finding that sitting is more hurtful than standing or lying down. I'll just wait for this to heal to the point where I can get moving again and try gentle walking, maybe just around the house at first and possibly a treadmill later. (Anyone with similar issues able to use one without increasing your pain?) My back pain is chronic and flares up every now and then with no rhyme or reason.

I've been down the physical therapy road with a shoulder injury a few years ago and found it to be an extremely frustrating experience and a waste of time - just my personal experience, though. The physical therapists (I saw different ones at the same place every time I went), for example, kept disagreeing with what the doctor was telling me and vice versa. I eventually just healed on my own. I wish there were someone that truly knew what they were doing and actually took the time to help - unlike the physical therapists that were only interested in talking about the weather, last night's game, making fun of the fact that I'm 40 and have back issues "like an old woman", etc., that I just couldn't take it anymore and I'm trying desperately not to repeat that experience. Sorry for the rant and I don't mean to offend any therapists here or people who find them helpful, but I guess I needed to vent a bit.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-13-08, 06:36 PM  
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Victoria, Australia
Hi Tina, I can really understand your pain!

It is very frustrating when you have just acheived some fitness, only to have to rest, not to mention the pain that goes with it!

Some exercises that I do when I am starting to recover from a bad bout of back pain include walking in a pool (warm, supported environment) and walking on level surfaces. Frustrating, although I met some lovely women from pool walking and met them at the pool on Sunday mornings for a couple of years afterwards.

I bought Fitness Fix based on reccomendations here, and while it may not be useful while you are in extreme pain, it has a lot of very safe and useful exercises for recovery.

I have also gone through a whole heap of different health care providers for back care and I really think it is more to do with luck than a particular profession regarding their approach and effectiveness. Currently I swear by my acupuncturist.

Good luck with your recovery.
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