Can an exercise bike be used if you have sciatica?

Sciatica is a type of pain that can occur anywhere along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, which originates at the base of the spine and runs down the back of each leg to the bottom of the feet. Because the discomfort is sometimes aggravated by movement, some people with sciatica incorrectly believe that it is better for them to be sedentary rather than active. However, while it may be necessary to take a few days off when the pain strikes, regular exercise can actually be very beneficial for relieving sciatic nerve pain. One commonly recommended option is cycling or riding a stationary exercise bike.

How to find out if cycling can help your sciatica

If you have sciatica and are interested in riding a bicycle, be sure to check with a physician before you get started. Cycling is not appropriate for everyone, and a physician can help you choose the form of exercise that is likely to be the most beneficial for you. For instance, your sciatic nerve pain may worsen when you sit on a firm surface. Because sitting on a bicycle seat can create pressure on your sciatic nerve, which runs through your buttocks, you might find cycling to be more harmful than helpful. On the other hand, if your sciatica pain is caused by an issue higher in your spine, you may feel perfectly comfortable on a bike.

The bottom line is that you should let your comfort level be your guide. Regardless of whether you have sciatica, you should always seek activities that make you feel better, and avoid those that create or contribute to your pain. If cycling makes your symptoms worse, there’s no need to give up and resign yourself to a sedentary lifestyle marred by nagging sciatica pain. There are likely suitable alternatives, such as walking, elliptical training and swimming, which can provide similar benefits without adding to the pressure on your sciatic nerve.

Where to find help for debilitating sciatic nerve pain

If your sciatica is interfering with your enjoyment of life, you may want to explore your surgical treatment options. To get started, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team can tell you about our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ We can also provide a free MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate.

Browse Related Resources