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Sciatica and cycling

Sciatica and cycling

Sciatica and cycling

Regular bike riders, motorcyclists and professional cycling athletes may be familiar with the phenomenon of bicycling sciatica. Sciatic pain that specifically affects cyclists can be linked to both physical and psychological sources, and will often include a bit of both for a challenging symptomatic profile. Why is it that sciatica and cycling often come together, and how can you find relief?

The facts of sciatica and cycling

Cycling involves long periods of sitting, and one of the most common symptomatic expressions of affected patients is seated sciatica. Being sat on a hard bicycle seat applies pressure around the buttocks, the coccyx and the sciatic nerve, particularly when patients have abnormal positioning of the nerve within their piriformis muscle. Staying seated for long periods can leave anyone feeling sore and stiff, but when you combine it with the continuous activity of the legs and the torso position involved in cycling, the pain can become severe.

Meanwhile, the psychological aspects of sciatica frequently find their way into the mind as you ride. Long bike rides give you time to think, and this can bring about defensive responses to any sensitive psycho-emotional issues that threaten to come into the mind. Furthermore, competitive cyclists place tremendous pressure on their performance, and perfectionist traits are often linked to causes of mind-body back pain.

Solving bicycling sciatica

It’s never a good long-term solution to cease a beloved activity. It is better to work on gaining an accurate diagnosis and specifying the cause of the pain in order to address it. It is standard practice to assume a structural source, but unresponsive chronic sciatica is frequently misdiagnosed. The best approach is to play an active role in your care, exploring potential treatments.

Sciatica has a fearsome reputation, but it is certainly not impossible to treat. The fundamental approach is to get the accurate diagnosis that leads to the appropriate therapy agenda. Beware of explanations for cycling sciatica that don’t seem to add up to you. You must consider all possibilities, both mental and physical, and ensure that suggested structural issues are evaluated. This way, you can ascertain whether your cycling is truly exacerbating them.

The bottom line

In many cases, the treatment for cycling sciatica is relatively straightforward. It may be as simple as some journaling and emotional work, or perhaps changing your bike seat or modifying your riding technique. Drastic ongoing therapies, or surgical interventions, may not be necessary. Seek accurate, logical diagnosis information from one or more medical professionals to tackle your bicycling sciatica.


  1. Amanda Eccles on April 27, 2021 at 7:58 am

    How about short 40 minutes on a bike ride be ok for my sciatic that I’ve had the last few days! Could I have caused it myself by sitting to long during lockdown although I walk dogs regularly and have long healthy walks !

    • SPRC on April 27, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Hi Amanda,
      You sound active and as much as possible it would be good remain active to help your recovery. For some people riding a bike can trigger their sciatica symptoms and others not. The key thing is to assess yourself. For people that feel fine when on the bike then they can carry on. If the bike triggers symptoms then it is sensible to back off the bike riding for a short period until symptoms reduce and do something else to remain active that does not exacerbate symptoms. Hope you recover soon.

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