When I began experiencing sciatica pain in my late twenties, my first thought was to try Google for a quick fix. After a couple of years Googling, getting an MRI, and seeing chiropractors and personal trainers, I realized something: nobody knew how to fix me at an affordable price. Then my daughter was born, I bought a bike to ride her around, and like magic, my sciatica was cured.
Ok, it was not exactly that easy. However, that is when I first noticed that riding a bike made me feel much better, which was an observation that gave me my legs back again. Before getting into the details of my recovery and ideas for yours, allow me to briefly review my experiences with paid medical professionals.
My family physician in Florida told me when I first reported the pain, which the pain could have been from a cyst on my lower back that I should have removed. This is not a joke. I had the cyst removed, the pain stayed.
I had an MRI done. They showed me where it was inflamed. They sent me to a physical therapist.
I went twice per week, and I usually felt good when I left. However, it was expensive, even after the copay. I stopped going after a couple of months. Looking back, I think most of my improvement came from riding the stationary bike, but I did many exercises. It is impossible to know.
Quoted me $5,200. He sounded like he’d fix me. But I’m frugal. What to do? Another chiropractor would do it cheaper, but not without an MRI first. I gave him my paperwork from the previous MRI. It turned out not to be the “type” of MRI that was needed.
Used Bicycle – Craigslist
Cured my sciatica. I was able to haggle with the guy, and the total cost was $100.
The Bicycle Strategy
Okay. Here are some bike riding tips if you are looking to improve your sciatica condition.
Ride when you are able to ride. There were only a few times where I’ve been in too much pain to ride my bike. Sometimes it would loosen up a little, and I’d take advantage of that moment to take a 10-minute bike ride. If I felt good, I could ride as long as I wanted. The great thing about the bicycle is the longer I ride, the more my pain improves.
Move around on the bike. Stand up and peddle. Sit down and peddle. Being seated the whole time is fine but standing upright and switching it up feels good.
Find hills. I live in Florida, so hills are tough to find, but they are around. I find steeper inclines on the road to increase my recovery speed. A leisurely bike ride is fine if you are in excruciating pain. If the pain is mild, go hard. It will feel good.
Lose weight. When I had the MRI, I weighed 220 pounds. That’s about 30 pounds more than I should be. So eat right. Drink lots of water. Keep moving.
Ride a bike without a bike. I lived in an area of the world where I did not have a bike for six months. My sciatica pain would flare up, so I did air bike rides laying on my back. I would also raise and lower my legs. This again would provide instant relief like a bike, although not as well as the real thing.
Ride early. First thing in the morning, go for a bike ride. It will get the blood flowing. A nice bicycle ride in the morning is the equivalent to a horse tranquilizer for sciatica pain. It really allows me to walk all day.
Ride in the afternoon. If you are able to ride your bike after sitting and working for a stretch, do it. Even five minutes can help significantly.
My sciatica pain was all my fault. I sat at a desk working too much and moving too little. No blame rests on the health professionals. The follies along the way are a lesson learned. Before heeding Google, medical professionals, friends, and family, remember to listen to what your body is telling you.
This advice will not work for everyone. I have talked to others who started riding their bicycles because of sciatica pain. So I know I’m not alone!