Exercise Provides Sciatica Pain Relief
While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is more effective in relieving sciatica pain than bed rest or staying active with daily physical activities.1,2 Prescribed exercise is different from physical activity because it is planned, structured, repetitive, and a progressive process validated in improving overall fitness.3
While a short period of rest and limited movement may be necessary when the sciatica pain flares up, long periods of inactivity usually make the pain worse. With prescribed exercise, sciatica pain is relieved due to the following tissue changes:
Without exercise and movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become deconditioned and less able to support the back. The deconditioning can lead to further trauma and strain, which can cause additional pain.
Read more about Sciatica Causes
Exercises are usually tailored to treat the specific underlying cause of sciatica. Here are a few examples to illustrate the range of exercises tailored to the cause of sciatica pain:
How Does Sciatica Pain Feel
Typical sciatica pain radiates from your back through your buttocks and down your leg. The pain can be intermittent or constant and occurs most commonly in the back of your leg however, it may be present in other areas of the leg as well. Burning, numbness, and tingling are also common types of sciatica pain.
Sciatica leg pain can occur on either side, depending on where the pressure on the nerve is located. It very rarely occurs on both sides.
Three Exercises To Avoid With Sciatica
When sciatica pain is at its worst these stretches may seem like common sense, instinctual exercises to do but they can actually make your pain worse.
1. Downward-Facing Dog
This popular fix all, relax all yoga pose may feel good after a long vinyasa, but not if your sciatica is currently acting up. Downward-Facing Dog not only stretches the hamstrings, but your calves and tendons down to your heel
Downward-Facing Dog and yoga are recommended for maintaining your condition, but only after acute sciatic pain has subsided.
2. Hamstring Stretch
Whether youre standing and leaning forward, in a runners stretch, or leaning over both feet, this one stretch can aggravate the entire length of your sciatic nerve, from the lower back to the heel.
3. Leg Circles
A common exercise in Pilates and martial arts, swinging your leg in a full circle will stretch the hamstring suddenly, possibly causing severe pain down your sciatic nerve.
Besides these three, as a general rule you should avoid high impact, jarring exercises or sports until you have corrected the condition causing your sciatica pain.
Other Tips To Prevent Sciatica
There are some key things to keep in mind when trying to minimize and prevent sciatica. They are:
- Good posture
- Avoid sitting or driving for extended periods
- Invest in having regular maintenance
- Stretching or yoga
- Nourish your muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments with the right minerals and vitamins
- Take care of your emotional well-being
- Reduce stress levels
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The Best Exercises For Sciatic Nerve Pain
Youll notice that most of these exercises are either yoga poses or pilates-based moves.
Both of these forms of exercises are great for sciatic pain especially yoga due to their ability to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve through stretching, while simultaneously strengthening the surrounding muscles that hold everything in correct alignment.
1. Downward-Facing Dog
Tight hamstrings combined with a weak core and back is a recipe for sciatica aggravation. Downward dog stretches the hamstrings and engages the stability muscles of the core and lower back, which can help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Begin on the floor with your knees directly under your hips and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders.
- Turn your toes under, spread your fingertips, exhale, and raise your knees off the floor.
- Lengthen your tailbone to the sky, letting your gaze fall between your arms.
- Gently work toward touching your heels to the ground. Dont worry if it takes a while to develop enough hamstring flexibility to do this.
- Hold this pose for one to three minutes.
2. Cobra Pose
Spending too much time with your body folded forward while sitting is one of the most common causes of sciatic pain, as it helps pinch the nerve.
Cobra pose opens your chest and shoulders while stretching out the front of the hips and hip flexors, relieving pressure between the disks.
3. Low Lunge
4. Seated Groin Stretch
5. Dead Bug
7. Kneeling Arm and Leg Reach
How Is Sciatica Diagnosed
First, your healthcare provider will review your medical history. Next, theyll ask about your symptoms.
During your physical exam, you will be asked to walk so your healthcare provider can see how your spine carries your weight. You may be asked to walk on your toes and heels to check the strength of your calf muscles. Your provider may also do a straight leg raise test. For this test, youll lie on your back with your legs straight. Your provider will slowly raise each leg and note the point at which your pain begins. This test helps pinpoint the affected nerves and determines if there is a problem with one of your disks. You will also be asked to do other stretches and motions to pinpoint pain and check muscle flexibility and strength.
Depending on what your healthcare provider discovers during your physical exam, imaging and other tests might be done. These may include:
- Spinal X-rays to look for spinal fractures, disk problems, infections, tumors and bone spurs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans to see detailed images of bone and soft tissues of the back. An MRI can show pressure on a nerve, disk herniation and any arthritic condition that might be pressing on a nerve. MRIs are usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis of sciatica.
- Nerve conduction velocity studies/electromyography to examine how well electrical impulses travel through the sciatic nerve and the response of muscles.
- Myelogram to determine if a vertebrae or disk is causing the pain.
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How Can These Exercises Work To Reduce Sciatic Pain
The abdominal and spinal muscles are essential components of the spines support system, whichanatomically, can be likened to your internal spinal brace. These 4 low-impact exercises, when performed correctly and under your spine specialists guidance, can help strengthen your spine and increase its flexibility and range of motion. While you cannot halt the effects of degenerative disc disease , exercise can help fortify the spines structural components that may reduce pain and speed healing.
Furthermore, exercise causes your body to release endorphinshormones that interact with pain receptors in the brain that can reduce perception of pain.
How To Do It:
â Begin by kneeling on all fours with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees positioned directly below your hips.â Begin by kneeling on all fours with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees positioned directly below your hips.â Exhale and arch your low back gently.â Hold this position for 2 seconds.â Inhale and round your back.â Hold this position for 2 seconds.â Aim for 10 repetitions.
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Nerve Sensations In A Piriformis Stretch
Because the sciatic nerve is located under the piriformis muscle you may get sensations that do not arise from muscle tissue. You need to be careful if you experience these feelings.
They’ll probably feel like an electrical sensation of some sort that goes down one legpins and needles, shock, tingling, or even burning. You may also experience weakness and/or numbness in one leg.
In case of any, some, or all of these symptoms, back off the exercise and talk to your physical therapist or doctor about what you should do.
To intensify the outer hip stretch:
To intensify further, you can progress to piriformis stretching for intermediates.
Running Technique Tips For Sciatica
There are many, often minor and overlooked, ways that you can change your running posture and stride to help minimise the pain caused by sciatica when you run. Running is a high impact activity, theres no getting away from that fact, but there are things you can do to help reduce the strain on, and irritation to, your sciatic nerve.
One of the most significant changes you can make merely is taking shorter and faster strides instead of bounding slow strides. Your running cadence is simply the number of strides you make in a minute. By increasing your running cadence for a given running pace, youll be making shorter, more frequent strides.
If you want to learn more about increasing your running cadence, heres a great article which will guide you through the process:
- How to Increase Your Running Cadence< < Read this next
Often a small 5-10% increase in your running cadence will prevent you from over striding, which is one of the aspects of running gait which places more strain on the sciatic nerve. Its not a problem in most runners, but if you have an irritable case of sciatica, it will feel uncomfortable to stride out into an over striding position.
I do hope this quick guide gives you the confidence to gently try running with sciatica. Just remember that you must listen to your body, stop if your pain becomes worse, and seek medical advice if youre in any way concerned.
You can learn more about improving your running form right here:
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Upper Cervical Care For Sciatica Pain Relief
So, besides excluding the mentioned workouts in your sciatica exercises, we highly recommend paying close attention to the curvature of your cervical spine, which studies have shown can trigger and exacerbate neck pain.
Imagine you were playing a game of Jenga. Youre just about to reach for the last block on top when all of a sudden, every single piece below it starts wobbling and then topples over onto the ground in an instant! Thats what happens if your upper cervical spine isnt aligned rightthe weighty head shifts, and the rest of the spine eventually falls out from under each other, causing pain to shoot down through your hips or lower back with shooting spasms that radiate up past your toes.
If you have tried different sciatica remedies recommended by your physician but found little to no changes, consider alternative care. Case studies prove that upper cervical chiropractic can manage mild and intense levels of pain caused by a compressed or irritated sciatic nerve. The process is straightforward, gentle, and holistic as it aims to provide patients with the natural option for healing their condition while being noninvasive on the bodys self-healing capabilities.
Upper cervical chiropractic involves finding the key areas that require chiropractic adjustments. Then, after your chiropractor determines the nature and extent of the underlying cause of your pain, you can begin receiving adjustments.
How Can I Tell If Pain In My Hip Is A Hip Issue Or Sciatica
Hip problems, such as arthritis in the hip, usually cause groin pain, pain when you put weight on your leg, or when the leg is moved around.
If your pain starts in the back and moves or radiates towards the hip or down the leg and you have numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg, sciatica is the most likely cause.
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Is Stationary Bike Good For Pinched Nerve
When you ride a bike, youll boost up your endorphins. And while you probably know that endorphins produce that happy feeling that motivates you to work out regularly, what you may not know is that it also has the power to be a natural pain reliever for those painful bouts that a pinched nerve brings on.
On Your Toes Extreme Hip Bridging Variations
maxsaf / Deposit Photos
It’s time for an extreme challenge tip-toed hip bridge.
Once you’re in the 2-footed hip bridge stance, lift your heels up. You will likely feel this in your calves, butt, hamstrings, and core pelvic muscles. You may also feel a stretch in your quadriceps muscles in front.
Lift and lower your heels slowly 10 times. A variation on this may be to keep your heels lifted for a count of 10.
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A 101 Guide To Exercising With Sciatica
When you struggle with severe sciatic nerve pain, a regular exercise routine may seem like an impossible goal. Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, even for those with sciatica. While you may need to modify your exercise habits, here are some tips that can get you up and keep you moving.
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider
Get immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Severe leg pain lasting more than a few hours that is unbearable.
- Numbness or muscle weakness in the same leg.
- Bowel or bladder control loss. This could be due to a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which affects bundles of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.
- Sudden and severe pain from a traffic accident or some other trauma.
Even if your visit doesnt turn out to be an emergency situation, its best to get it checked out.
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Best Exercises For Sciatica Leg Pain Relief
#sciaticalegpain #sciaticalegpainexcercise #sciaticapain #painrelief #musclepain #ultracarepro
0:00 In this video, we focus on leg pain caused due to sciatica. Sciatica is majorly a back-related problem but can also create leg pain symptoms, and hence it is important to focus on them. These symptoms can be tingling, numbness or weakness in the leg however, these can be taken care of by following a simple exercise routine that helps in faster recovery.
0.50 Whenever there is leg pain due to sciatica, you should lie down on your tummy and put 2 pillows on your chest. It would help if you were in this position until you feel that your leg symptoms are moving up to your lower back. If your symptoms are moving up, it is a good sign, and it means the pressure is being relieved from your nerve.
1:44 Prone extension exercise: In this exercise, extend your spine until comfortable for you and do this for 10 repetitions. This exercise should gradually relieve the symptoms in your leg.
2:19 Piriformis stretch. Doing this exercise can prevent entrapment of the nerve hence, you should do this exercise regularly.
2:57 Sciatic Nerve Floss- In this exercise, you need to bend your head and knee at the same time
3:13 Spinal twist: Here, you need to twist your spine toward teh affected side make sure initially you only do 2 to 3 repetitions. Once you see that the pain is relieved, you can increase the number of counts.
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Think You Have Sciatica Its Not As Common As People Assume Says Physical Therapy Expert
U of A researcher recommends exercise over painkillers for treating the painful nerve condition.
Although 85 per cent of people will experience back pain in their lives, only two to 10 per cent will suffer from true sciatica, according to a U of A master’s student in rehabilitation medicine.
While sciatica is one of the most common forms of back pain, people often assume they have it when they don’t, says U of A physical therapy researcher Greg Kawchuk.
That’s because the condition-named for the sciatic nerve running down the spine and through the leg-is a general term for many different situations. It can come on suddenly in an acute, disabling way, resolving after a couple of months, or it can fluctuate over time, he said.
Since the pain tends to radiate, it can be felt in a number of places, from the lower back to the buttocks, groin and down the back or front of the leg. It usually results from compression of the nerve roots as they exit the spine, which is caused when jelly-like cushions between vertebrae herniate, said Kawchuk.
“Sometimes the jelly comes out and it will either push on the nerve root or create inflammation that bothers the nerve. What’s nice is that we know that in the majority of patients, it usually resolves and goes away over time-just not that quickly.”
It’s also possible to have sciatica without back pain, he said, just as it is possible to have symptoms of sciatica without involvement of the back.
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Contact Spine Institute Of North America About Severe Back Pain
Sciatic pain can resolve on its own. However, if youre experiencing severe back pain thats impacting your quality of life, then its time to contact the experts at Spine Institute of North America. Our team of medical professional wants to provide you with an individualized treatment plan to address your sciatic pain. Contact us today to learn more.
Start With Easy Low Impact Options
If you are new to exercising, make sure to not overexert yourself. You can begin with as little as 5 to 10 minutes, and slowly work your way up each day.
- Try simple sciatica exercises at home or use a stationary bike or elliptical machine at the gym.
- You can also simply walk in a swimming pool water therapy can effectively relieve sciatica pain and does not require much effort.2
Avoid exercises that can jar your spine and worsen your sciatica symptoms, such as running or mountain biking.
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How Long Should I Try Self
Every person with sciatic pain is different. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different. In some patients, a more aggressive treatment may be tried first. However, generally speaking, if a six-week trial of conservative, self-care treatments like ice, heat, stretching, over-the-counter medicines has not provided relief, its time to return to a healthcare professional and try other treatment options.
Other treatment options include: