L5/S1 bulge recovery

I’ve had a L5/S1 bulge which is compressing the exiting nerve root.

Started in July 2018. I managed to get away with racing and training taking pain killers.

I taken now 4 weeks off bike and pain improved. Been doing exercises and having osteopath treatment.

Just wondering do you full recovery from this kind of injury.
I’m sure it was cause my saddle on tt bike being to high.
Any advice welcome

I had a very similar injury to start the 2011 season. Similar as you, I ignored it and raced through it, though no pain pills. I actually had no idea what was wrong. Just had a pain run down my leg especially after sitting. I literally couldn’t move for 15-20 seconds.

I went along to far that I had to have a procedure done to correct it. However with proper rest, rehab, stretching and easing back into it I had one of my best years, even after a second set back of an early season broken collarbone.

So yes it is possible. Listen to your doctor. Take it easy to start. Let the fitness come to you. You can not build it in a day. It is imperative that you continue to stretch, do yoga and foundation work so it does not come back.


As a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner and FasCat Athlete who has also suffered disc bulges I can tell you YES, you can resolve this problem and get back to long hard bike rides!
Technically a “bulge” isn’t as serious a diagnosis as a “herniation” which is less serious than an “extrusion or protrusion”. Anyway, 95% of disc bulges slip posteriorly which results in an ‘extension bias’. That means back extension makes it feel better and flexion (as in bending at the waist to reach the handlebars) feels worse! So, yeah, it totally sucks to get this injury as a cyclist.

If you’ve seen a PT, they probably prescribed and coached you through “McKenzie Positioning” exercises. If you saw a good chiropractor, hopefully they did some decompression treatment. Once the radiating pain is resolved and you can bend forward without incident, you’re officially sub-acute or even resolved.

BUT - you are more susceptible to this problem in the future. If low back pain of this nature begins to rear its ugly head even a tiny bit, we have to be extra vigilant at maintaining GREAT core strength and integrity. Dr. Goodman’s Foundation Exercises are super awesome for those of us with this problem but another fantastic - secret trick is kick-board work. Get in the pool (especially in off season but also 1-2x/week in season) and do laps with a kick board. Keep your legs mostly straight and kick from the hip and low back. I do 3 laps increasingly harder and the 4th lap is an easy frog kick. Recover and repeat. I’ll to 600-800 yds of kicking. After just 2 or 3 pool sessions, my back feels awesome!

Good luck!


Cheers for the advice
My osteopath has done a lot of work on my left Quadratus Lumborum muscle which feels super loose.
Last night when stretching I poked around on my right Quadratus Lumborum muscle which felt really hard.
I wonder if this could not be helping.

Here’s a decent, slightly dated systematic review, that has a number of interesting bullet points, including: “Clinical improvement is usual in most people, and only about 10% of people still have sufficient pain after 6 weeks to consider surgery. Sequential magnetic resonance images have shown that the herniated portion of the disc tends to regress over time, with partial to complete resolution after 6 months in two thirds of people.”

If you’re feeling better with 4 weeks off the bike, why not take some more time off, it’s the off-season right? :wink:

Also, nobody mentioned it yet, but you hinted at it initially. A professional bike fit with someone who truly understands and is educated in this type of injury may be the first step when you return to the bike.