Back Pain

Sciatica and Cycling

Sciatica is a condition which is caused in people who tend to sit for a longer time. Sciatica is a symptom which depicts the discomfort in the sciatic nerve which originates from the lower part of the back and extends down up to the feet. This nerve is the longest and thickest nerve which runs in the human body. The discomfort which is caused in the nerve results in the severe pain in the back.

Cycling is one exercise which is carried out to get rid of the back pain. But if the right kind of cycle is not used or right kind of posture is not maintained while sitting on the bicycle then it could invite back pain. So there are a few things which must be taken care of while riding a bicycle. They are:

  • Select a right kind of bicycle for exercising. It is advisable to select the bike which is designed especially for that purpose. For example, if you love riding on mountains then select mountain bikes only which are designed for racing purposes only. For casual riding there are hybrid bikes available. So it is advisable to select the one which suits you the best. The length of the bike also plays a major role. So it is advisable measure the inside leg length and select the perfect bike for you. Keep in mind that all types of bicycles have different measurements.

  • While selecting the bicycle, give proper attention to the handle bar of the bicycle. Every bicycle because of its style and shape has a different handle bar and distance from the saddle. This distance determines the posture of the body on the bicycle as it changes the angle of the lower back. The greater will the distance, more will the person have to lean forward to ride the bike. The distance of handle bar is less for women as compared to men. Moreover the height of the handle bar also plays a major role like less the height as in the case of mountain bikes results in back pain. So in case you are suffering from sciatica and other issues of back pain then it is advisable to use hybrid bikes with moderate height. This will help in positioning the back comfortably and in a right manner.

  • In some of the bicycles, the seat is not in a proper position which could result in back pain. So it is advisable to tip down the nose of the seat, nearly 10-15 degrees which will make it more comfortable especially for those suffering from back pain. Make sure that you test drive your bike before purchasing to ensure the comfort level on it.

Cause of Sciatic Pain while Cycling:

As cycling is the activity which requires excessive efforts while hunched over and sitting for long hours. It is this position of sitting which results in back pain and sometimes in sciatic pain. Actually while cycling intense pressure is exerted on the coccyx or the tail bone, gluteus muscles, spine and sciatic nerve. Moreover, the seat of the bicycle is too small which compresses the nerves and muscles extensively.

In some case the unusual positioning of the nerve is there like it may be present inside the piriformis rather than running beneath it. In such cases, the pinching of the nerves takes place more easily. So if the muscles of the back are aggravated much then the spine forms a hunched posture while riding a bike. Moreover if in such position vigorous and continuous use of legs is carried out then it pressurizes the lower back to a great extent, thus make the condition more intense.

Treatment Methods for Sciatic Pain Caused due to Cycling:

Some of the treatment methods which can be carried out to treat the condition of sciatic pain caused due to cycling are:

  • Proper rest is very important to treat the condition of sciatic pain.
  • Application of heat and ice packs alternatively will also bring about a proper relief to your aching back
  • Stretching exercises can be carried out to bring about the desired relief to the aching back
  • Intake of pain killers can be done in severe cases to reduce the amount of pain in the lower back
  • Some external factors like the shape and size of the bike and height of the seat of the bike, shoes which are worn while riding a bike play a major role in causing your back pain. So it is advisable to select a proper bike for yourself which is comfortable to ride.

Preventive Measures:

Some of the preventive measures which can be followed to prevent back pain while riding a bike are:

  • Spinal stretches must be carried out to bring about a flexibility and mobility in the body before and after riding a bike. Regular stretching will help in improving the circulation of blood and also relaxing the stiffed muscles which will help in reducing the back pain to a greater extent.

  • The act of cycling can be balances with other activities like aerobics, walking and other yoga exercises while will help in keeping the body in motion.

  • It is advisable to take small rides which will help in bringing the body in motion, once the body is in motion then it is advisable to go on for a longer ride.

  • As prolonged sessions of sitting could result in herniated disc, so it is advisable to take frequent breaks while carrying out the activity.

  • Check your seat and adjust it according to your height to prevent any back pain.

References:

  1. Sciatic nerve.
  2. Back pain and sciatica

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