Cycling and Sciatica – Is Cycling Good for Sciatica?

sciatica and cycling

Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts at your lower back and spreads to both of your legs. When the nerve is under pressure it will cause tingling or pain in the lower back, buttocks, or one or two legs. A more accurate term for this condition is radicular pain and it affects millions of people across the world. It is important to minimize the risk of sciatica or recover by staying physically active. This brings us to sciatica and cycling. Should you ride when you are in pain and will it help you?

Is cycling good for sciatica?

This activity isn’t recommended if you have lower back pain. The reason is in the fact you will sit for a long period of time on an uncomfortable seat. This position will increase the pressure on the sciatic nerve which is something you need to avoid. Keep in mind that most people with sciatica have an abnormal position of this nerve, especially in the piriformis muscle.

When you sit and ride, the nerve will cause even more pain. Add the fact you will use your legs and the entire lower back to turn the pedals and you can see that this physical activity isn’t ideal for all people with sciatica! In general, sitting on a chair or on a couch when you are under pain caused by a sciatic nerve isn’t ideal and should be kept at a minimum.

Cycling is a more appealing option when you want to protect yourself from sciatica. Although, this activity affects hamstrings and quadriceps the most, it can be useful as a relaxation method for those who are prone to back pain. One reason for that is the position you are in while riding. Cycling also requires less effort and causes less stress on the back muscles than jogging or aerobic.

Cycling and sciatica

The bottom line here is to cycle before you develop sciatica. It is a healthy activity that will also help you feel better. If you already have back pain, you should probably invest your time into something else. We recommend walking. It is the best and the simplest method of physical activity you will need to consider.

Instead of just riding, try and focus your attention on the treatment that helps you. Yes, rest is the first thing most doctors will recommend to start with that. If this doesn’t work, a massage or acupuncture can be tried. Then we have medications, injections, or surgery as possible treatments. Start with the simplest things and move to more complex ones. Once your problem is solved, you will be free to ride again.

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Preventing sciatica if you ride often

Here we must cover another, linked topic. What if you like to ride and you would like to protect yourself from developing back or even neck pain? Both of these issues are common among cyclists and they can be problematic. There are a few things you need to know.

The first one is to choose the right bike. You will need a mountain bike with a wide handlebar if you are a casual rider. This type will keep your body in the correct posture and also wider tires will absorb more vibrations while riding the bike. Don’t forget that a comfortable seat is a better option. While riding, keep a lot of weight on your arms, instead of on your spine.


Adjusting the bike is mandatory as well. This is best done with the help of a trained professional, personal trainer, or at a bike shop. While riding, lift and lower your head. This is done to loosen your muscles in the neck. As such, it can prevent neck strain.

Last but not least important thing to know is that using accessories that can absorb vibrations is essential. You need to look for covers, shock absorbers, and everything else that can help you with that.


Sadly, sciatica and cycling are not ideal when mixed together. This type of physical activity can cause sciatica and can make your pain even worse. It is better to ride once your pain is eliminated and try to limit the miles you ride. Choosing another type of physical activity can be an ideal choice.

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