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Recumbent bikes and lower back problems
Old 06-06-2020, 11:06 AM   #1
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Recumbent bikes and lower back problems

Years ago I got a recumbent exercise bike for my father because I figured it's safer than a treadmill or a standard exercise bike. Maybe it is in a way because there's less chance of falling, but I don't see myself falling or breaking bones if I do. What I do see/feel is lower back and hip pain that lasted three days.

I'm blaming the bike for the pain because I remember reading that standing leg raises, where you keep your leg straight and try to raise it as close to parallel to the ground as you could, are bad for your lower back and shouldn't be part of an exercise routine unless you're a martial artist or dancer that needs to do that movement. It seems to me that recumbent biking requires the same muscles, especially if you're trying to go fast and pushing upward on pedal straps. I got the straps for my father so his feet would stay in place, which is an appropriate use, but not for pushing up on the pedals.

Also, if you get straps, get the Velcro ones. The plastic ones I got, to save a little money, are way too hard to get out of. I use the bike with sandals and slip my foot out of the sandals first, then manipulate the sandals out of the pedals.

But still, with or without straps I think you're activating the same...I think they're hip flexors that are attached to your lower back...that cause your disks to separate or contract or something, causing lower back problems. I hope I can trade in the bike for something else, or sell it, after coronavirus.
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Old 06-06-2020, 01:13 PM   #2
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I owned a recumbent exercise bike before but didn't like it. Yes, it does distribute the weight away from certain areas. However, for me seemed like the position pushed the blood flow away from my legs so my legs would end up feeling week. Others might have had better experiences but I went back to getting an upright exercise bike instead. As for indoor cardio, my best workout is walking on the treadmill. But that does get boring fast.
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Old 06-06-2020, 01:27 PM   #3
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After I bought my recumbent bike, my knee flared up, and I never had trouble with my knees. So, when talking to my physical therapist when I had rotator cuff surgery, I told him my issue. He then told me that the body was made to have the legs underneath you, so that's where they should be when you exercise. He said they had no recumbent bikes on the property. When I took it to the curb, no one would even steal/take it.
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Old 06-06-2020, 01:46 PM   #4
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That's another thing. I could walk 3-6 miles non-stop (pre-isolation) with no problem but my legs feel tired for the 3/4 to 1 mile the recumbent bike. I don't consider it regular cardio because of the significant feeling of resistance in the beginning, even with it on the second level out of 20. It has a weighted, magnetically adjustable wheel. Even with no resistance, just the position of my legs would probably make it feel like resistance training.
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Old 06-06-2020, 01:58 PM   #5
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That's another thing. I could walk 3-6 miles non-stop (pre-isolation) with no problem but my legs feel tired for the 3/4 to 1 mile the recumbent bike. I don't consider it regular cardio because of the significant feeling of resistance in the beginning, even with it on the second level out of 20. It has a weighted, magnetically adjustable wheel. Even with no resistance, just the position of my legs would probably make it feel like resistance training.

Yes, the tire legs feeling with the recumbent. That's what made me cry uncle and get a normal bike.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:29 PM   #6
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On a related note, I once bought a recumbent bike for riding outdoors. First time I road it, my toes went numb. I did a little online research and found it's a common problem. Had to sell it.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:31 PM   #7
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An avid cyclist myself, this thread is of interest to me. I ride a road bike and do see several recumbent bikes on my daily rides. At times I've wondered if I might get to a point in the future where I can no longer ride a road bike safely and if a recumbent might be the solution.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:38 PM   #8
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I’ve had back problems for years and bought a recumbent bike hoping it would help. It didn’t help my back at all and may have aggravated it some. I need to rid myself of it.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:55 PM   #9
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Wow, this thread is depressing me. I'm a fairly avid cyclist, but cervical disc problems in the last year have limited the amount of time I can spend with my head down and neck craned up (i.e. standard road bike body position). It's a bit better on my mountain bike where I've raised the handlebars to put me in a more upright position, but I've been looking for a way I could spend more time on the road bike (currently limited to about an hour - maybe an hour and a half if I'm willing to be sore for the next couple of days).

I'd been thinking about trying out a recumbent (though the thought of riding one in traffic scares me silly). While it would alleviate my neck issues it sounds like it might bring in a whole host of new problems I'd sooner avoid.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:57 PM   #10
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An avid cyclist myself, this thread is of interest to me. I ride a road bike and do see several recumbent bikes on my daily rides. At times I've wondered if I might get to a point in the future where I can no longer ride a road bike safely and if a recumbent might be the solution.
I was a member of a cycling forum for a while, related to my building a crank shortener for the recumbent bike (a whole other story). There seemed to be general agreement that balance is lost over time and at a certain point it's time to switch to a trike. I don't remember mention of moving to a recumbent bike at a certain age.
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Old 06-06-2020, 02:59 PM   #11
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We have both a recumbent and a traditional bike (on a trainer stand). DW likes the recumbent but I can't stand being on it for more than 45 minutes and always have a knee ache the next day. I moved to the traditional exclusively now and can go for hours without an issue. Hope you find something that works for you!
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Old 06-06-2020, 03:10 PM   #12
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I prefer a recumbent. Easier on certain external appendages. No problems. Walk 4 miles the days I don't use it. No problems.
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Old 06-06-2020, 03:43 PM   #13
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I love my stationary recumbent bike that I have been using for more than 10 years. Before then, my back hurt after a few minutes using a regular stationary bike and my knees hurt using a treadmill. And the recumbent seems to be easier to adjust to my short legs. I am starting to have knee problems but hard to determine if this is just from age, the bike, or hiking steeper grades when on trips.
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Old 06-06-2020, 04:34 PM   #14
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On a related note, I once bought a recumbent bike for riding outdoors.
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At times I've wondered if I might get to a point in the future where I can no longer ride a road bike safely and if a recumbent might be the solution.
I see those in bike lanes and figure they have to be far more dangerous than a road bike. The cyclist on those is generally lower than any truck driver, most car drivers too. I've never seen one without a big high flag on the back, but I don't think that's enough to make me ever feel safe on the road in one.
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Old 06-06-2020, 05:47 PM   #15
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66 here, and I use a recumbent bike machine in the basement and also have a recumbent trike for outside. Love both of them and they are much easier on both my back and butt. The trike isn't "slow", I'm no speedster but can maintain a 15 mph pace indefinitely as long as it's not really hilly. Recumbents suck on hills, but the advantage of the trike is you can proceed at 2 mph without worrying about falling over.

My spouse also has one of these; we don't use them on roads (I will for a very short stretch if needed) but there are plenty of good trails in the DC area. Another bonus is we got the folding ones, and can put them both inside a Mazda 5 hatchback for vacations within driving distance.
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Old 06-06-2020, 07:06 PM   #16
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Spotted someone this week going down the bike path on an elliptical bike. Don't see many of those around, it was a flat section and he was moving at a decent pace. Not sure what the drawbacks are to those type of bikes, looks comfortable riding in a standup position.
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Old 06-07-2020, 07:39 AM   #17
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I've never used a road recumbent, but the stationary one in the gym was great, so I am a bit surprised over the negative experiences being reported.
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Old 06-07-2020, 07:44 AM   #18
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I used one in the gym when I was in my 40's without any issues, but could be being "only" in my 40's and had no generic back issues.
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:02 AM   #19
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I think a well fitted standard bike (road, mountain, gravel or cross) is better than a recumbent. Seek out a quality bike shop and pay for a fitting. Once you have a correct frame size, stem length, head tube height, etc, many of the ills that riders of improperly fit cycles complain of (numb butt, numb hands, neck, shoulder pain) all resolve themselves.
If you don’t know what size works for you or how you swap out components for a better fit, seek a professional. I got a bike fitting years ago and thought it was worth every penny.
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:26 AM   #20
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I think a well fitted standard bike (road, mountain, gravel or cross) is better than a recumbent. Seek out a quality bike shop and pay for a fitting. Once you have a correct frame size, stem length, head tube height, etc, many of the ills that riders of improperly fit cycles complain of (numb butt, numb hands, neck, shoulder pain) all resolve themselves.
If you don’t know what size works for you or how you swap out components for a better fit, seek a professional. I got a bike fitting years ago and thought it was worth every penny.
+1

Some of those discomforts you mentioned are worn from time to time by cyclists as a badge of courage. In addition to having a properly fitted road bike, core strengthening exercises, proper form while riding and miles spent in the saddle will also help to lessen discomforts.
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