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Anyone suffering from sciatica can make it worse in two ways through cycling: either doing too much cycling or having a seat that is too hard.
To sort out the seat issue, there are luckily several seats on the market now that are designed for sciatica sufferers.
Which is the best of these?
The best bicycle seat for sciatica is Ergo 21 LiquiCell, if you are looking for relief from chronic, hip, buttock, or sciatic pain. The foam inside the cushion is custom-made to absorb road vibrations for you to have a smoother ride, while the drawstrings hold the cushion in its place.
In this post, I’ll take a look at:
- My favorite bicycle seat for sciatica sufferers – the Ergo 21 LiquiCell
- Three other bicycle seats that you might want to take a look at (and why)
- 4 top tips to help with cycling with sciatica
- Facts about cycling and sciatica
- Can you cycle with sciatica?
- Can cycling help with sciatic pain
The Best Seat for Sciatica
Ergo 21 LiquiCell Bicycle Cushion
The Ergo 21 LiquiCell Bicycle Cushion (find its latest price on Amazon here) is the perfect option if you need to get relief from chronic hip, buttock, or sciatic pain.
The drawstrings keep the cushion in place while the foam inside is specially developed to dampen road vibrations for a smoother ride.
I really like the way that the cushion in this bike seat is filled with liquid-filled membranes which improve blood flow and reduce numbness and fatigue.
The cushion is a much better alternative to traditional air products, gel or foam because it distributes the body weight more evenly and does not cause any pressure points. This ensures you have a comfortable ride that can last for an ample time.
Shocks and road vibrations can cause a lot of trouble especially when you are dealing with an existing sciatica condition.
This bicycle cushion is specifically designed to alleviate those problems by absorbing shocks so your ride is smooth and comfortable. The custom cushion also ensures that it will fit snugly and securely on your bike.
Things I Love About Ergo21 LiquiCell Bicycle Cushion
Many Positive Reviews
Many people have used this cushion and given good reviews about the convenience and the comfort that it provides. Riders love how easy it is to make adjustments with the cushion and also how they love being able to stay in a comfortable position while they are bicycling.
It Helps You Stay Dry And Cool
On top of that, LiquiCell technology helps cyclists stay dry and cool even during long rides.
The LiquiCell cushion comes with a lot of benefits.
- It reduces soreness and numbness in your back
- It also provides consistent pressure distribution which improves blood circulation and prevents fatigue.
- The unique design conforms to your body and its high-density, closed-cell foam reduces vibrations by absorbing shocks.
- It is also waterproof, lightweight, and easy to install.
- It has non-slip surfaces to keep the cushion in place even when you are cycling on bumpy roads.
- Moreover, it is easy to clean because it can be machine-washed and air-dried.
- Lastly, its ergonomic design is shaped for the natural curves of the body making it feel like a part of you when you are riding.
Three Other Seats to Look into
1. Good For Comfort – DAWAY Oversized Comfort Seat
This product is perfect for those who are looking for extra comfort while cycling.
The seat has been designed with soft memory foam which is wider than the normal bike seats out there.
It is more comfortable to sit on and universal fit means that it will work out for any type of bike. It is also an ISO-certified bike seat for those who have trouble sitting on a traditional bike seat as well as for seniors.
The extra-wide design helps distribute your weight evenly and also eliminates pressure points making your riding experience a pleasurable one.
On top of that, the bike seat is made up of durable material that will last long-term.
The DAWAY bike seat has metal dual springs suspension and high elastic shock absorbers which work together to absorb any shocks or bumps that come your way. The metal dual springs can reach up to 12mm as well.
Coming to its material, the DAWAY seat is made with an ergonomic design as well as a waterproof leather surface. The universal mounting system is easy to install and you will appreciate the extra comfort it provides you on long rides.
2. Best Budget Choice – Sunlite Cloud-9 Bicycle Saddle
This suspension cruiser saddle has been designed to provide maximum comfort while riding.
It is my favorite budget choice out of this list.
It is made up of vinyl and has a cruiser gel seat for extra comfort. It comes in a tri-color black design which means it will match most bicycles out there.
The saddle is easy to install and prevents back pain as well because of its extra cushioning.
It consists of a dual-density gel foam padding that is soft. It provides hours of relief from painful pressure points.
The seat’s chrome coil spring suspension system absorbs bumps and shocks making every ride more enjoyable.
As I have discussed earlier, using a traditional saddle can make sciatica problems worse but with Sunlite, you do not have to worry about comfort ever again!
The soft foam present in the seat will cushion your sit bones and help alleviate pain and pressure while the suspended design provides extra relief from sciatica.
The universal design of this seat helps it get installed on any standard seat post. It measures 10 inches long by 10 inches wide. It is the perfect choice for cruiser bikes because its suspension system makes rides more enjoyable.
3. Lightweight Option – WTB Speed Medium Seat
This seat is lightweight and delivers reasonable pressure relief and padded comfort at a great value. Not only is the WTB speed one of the most versatile saddles out there but its solid comfort features make it a must-have.
Its generous padding gives plenty of support without being too cushy.
Its contoured seats have an anatomical center groove which helps divert weight from sensitive soft tissue areas towards the sit bones.
It also has a dual-compound base that softens vibrations and bumps for smooth riding on different types of terrain.
The WTB speed comes with a microfiber cover that gives the seat a leather-like look but with antimicrobial benefits and greater durability. It also has a slight forward tilt which helps riders pedal with more energy on the road or during a tough workout.
4 Top Tips To Help With Cycling With Sciatica
Sometimes having the right seat without the right posture or the right bicycling essentials is not enough.
So here I have compiled a list of tips that you can further incorporate into your bicycling routine to diminish the effects of sciatica.
Tip 1 – Posture
Maintaining an upright posture is a key way of preventing lower back pain.
Apart from the bike angle, you can also invest in bikes that have a specifically designed handlebar extension. This allows for more upright riding.
Tip 2 – Stretches
You can also do stretches that target your hamstring muscles before and after cycling to prevent sciatic pain and cycling injuries.
Keeping your hamstrings flexible is significant as well. You can check this by placing your hands on the floor while you try to bend forward. You should be able to do this with straight legs or by standing.
If you find it difficult to touch the ground while your knees are extended then that usually means your hamstrings are too rigid. These can be helped by a program of stretches or targeted yoga.
Tip 3 – Seat Angle
Research has shown that around 30 to 70 percent of bicyclists suffer from lower back problems such as sciatica.
A 1999 research study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that adjusting the angle of the bike seat led to a significant decrease in bicycle-related back pains. (Source)
When you adjust the bike seat to create an upward tilting angle or an angle that inclines anteriorly, sciatic pain is greatly reduced.
While on the other hand, having an angle of a downward tilt seat is mostly the angle of choice for cyclists to increase their speed profile. This, however, puts a strain on your lower back which leads to problems like sciatica.
Tip 4 – Seat Type
Apart from the seat angle, you have to keep in mind that specific bike seats are better for sciatica.
We have nerves that go through our pelvis. When we sit on a hard bicycle seat, these nerves can get affected due to pressure which eventually leads to worsening sciatica symptoms.
Using a split-saddle or a noseless bicycle seat gives you a soft area to rest your lower body leading to a good posture.
This is because nerve impingement is reduced and thus there are fewer chances of stress injuries.
These seats involve our sit bones which bear the brunt of the weight when our spine is in an upright position leading to better posture overall.
If you’re looking at how to manage sciatica and cycling, then an excellent video is this one by Bob and Brad (the self-proclaimed two most famous physiotherapists on the internet):
The Facts about Cycling and Sciatica
We all know that cycling involves long periods of sitting and one of the common causes of sciatica is sitting. This can be much more greatly exacerbated by sitting on a hard seat.
By sitting on a hard bicycle seat, you apply pressure around your coccyx, sciatic nerve, and buttocks especially if you have an abnormal seating position.
Staying seated for long periods can leave anyone feeling stiff and sore, but if you combine it with the position of the torso involved and the continuous activity of the legs, the pain can become severe.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is commonly associated with lower back pain that is accompanied by leg pain.
You may also experience pain along one side of the button but rarely on both sides at once. The pain starts in the lower back or buttocks and makes its way down to the back of the thigh into the lower leg and foot.
You can also feel pain sitting in a slumped position, which is usually relieved by walking or lying down. It usually presents as numbness or needles and weakness when moving the foot or leg.
Can I Cycle With Sciatica?
Cycling with sciatica can prove to be challenging but it is possible.
By adjusting the bike seat height and having a comfortable cycling position, you can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
Similarly, having a good bike seat is also helpful.
There is no definitive answer to the question of whether or not it is safe to cycle with sciatica.
However, many experts believe that if you are experiencing only mild discomfort, then it is probably safe for you to continue cycling as long as you take the necessary precautions. (Source)
It can include adjusting your bike seat so that you are not putting too much pressure on your sciatic nerve.
If your sciatica gets worse or if you experience other symptoms like tingling or numbness in your leg then it may be best to take a break from cycling until the discomfort recedes.
Can Cycling Help Sciatic Pain?
There is no simple answer to this question.
Some people find that biking helps relieve their symptoms while others may disagree.
The effects of cycling can vary from person to person. However, many people found that biking can be a great way to reduce sciatic symptoms because it strengthens the muscles of the hips and back.
Moreover, studies have shown that biking is a low-impact exercise that helps improve strength and blood circulation. It is also a wonderful way to get outdoors to enjoy some fresh air.
If you are considering cycling to help relieve some of your sciatic symptoms, then be sure to speak to your doctor about it. You can start slowly and then build your mileage gradually to avoid further complications.