Sciatica is the pain or sensation that occurs along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed from the nerve roots of the lumbar and sacral spine and extends down the hips and buttocks and down each leg. Often a bulging disc causes sciatica. Compression, inflammation, or irritation of the sciatic nerve can also cause sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica include causing pain or burning, as well as fatigue, numbness, or tingling.
Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the body. During a sciatica outbreak, some movements may be difficult, but it is important to stay active. Avoid high-impact sports, exercises, and movements that strain the sciatic region. Stay away from any activity, movement, or posture that causes pain.
Discover the types of exercises and activities you should avoid when you have sciatica, as well as exercises that improve your flexibility, mobility and strength.
Listen to your body and stay away from any activity that causes pain. Some exercises can worsen the symptoms of sciatica, especially if you tense or press on your back, core, and legs. While it is important to increase strength and flexibility in these areas, it is necessary to do so slowly and safely.
Avoid high-impact activities that could aggravate symptoms and cause injury. If you have severe pain, take a break from the activity. However, inactivity or sitting for long periods of time can make symptoms worse, so try to do light exercise or stretching when possible.
Here are exercises, stretches and activities to avoid if you have sciatica. If you have general back pain without sciatica, it is a good idea to stay away from these exercises as well.
1. Seated bent and straight forward
This exercise can cause tension and stress in the lower back, pelvis and hamstrings, which aggravates sciatica.
2. Tram Hurdler
This stretch tightens the back, hips and hamstrings. Rotating the pelvis puts more strain on your back as you bend forward.
3. Supine leg circles
This Pilates exercise stretches the hamstrings while rotating the leg in a circular motion. This can cause pain, irritate the sciatic nerve and cause injury to the hamstrings.
4. Double leg lift
This supine exercise involves lifting and lowering both legs simultaneously, which activates the abs and leg muscles. It can aggravate sciatica pain, especially if you use the wrong forms.
5. Put rotated triangle
This posture can cause you to stretch your spine, hips, and hamstrings, which can make sciatica worse.
This exercise involves high-impact movements that can aggravate back and hip pain. Bending over and jumping repeatedly can aggravate the symptoms of sciatica.
7. Inclined row
This weight lifting exercise can strain your lower back and irritate the sciatic nerve, especially if you do it with a rounded spine. This can cause inflammation, a herniated disc, or an injury.
8. Weighted squares
Weighted squat positions increase compression of the back, nerves, and intervertebral discs. They can also press on the legs, causing pain and injury. Try them without weights, keeping the core engaged and your back in a neutral position. Stop if you feel pain or tension in your back.
Cycling can increase the pressure on your spine and sciatic nerve, especially in a hard bike seat. Driving in an inclined or forward-leaning position can irritate sciatica, especially if the seat and handlebars are not positioned correctly.
10. High impact sports
Avoid any kind of high-impact contact activity or sport that makes you make sudden movements or stress your body. This includes training in basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, running and HIIT.
Various exercises and stretches help to treat sciatica. Exercise improves the healing of soft tissues, benefits the nervous system and can make you less sensitive to pain.
It’s important to get some physical activity on a daily basis, even if it’s just a gentle stretch. Walking, swimming and doing water therapy exercises are also great options. When walking, move at a comfortable pace and avoid walking uphill.
Work to increase flexibility and increase strength in the back, core and leg muscles. You also need to improve your posture, alignment, and movement patterns. Stretch as easy as you want and remember that flexibility can vary on a daily basis. Stop if you experience pain.
Stay away from exercises that cause pain or aggravate sciatica symptoms. Be gentle with yourself and focus on movements that safely relieve symptoms and develop strength, mobility and alignment.
To improve healing, follow a healthy diet, reduce stress levels and get plenty of sleep. You can also examine acupuncture, massage or chiropractic treatments. Topical pain medications, lumbar appliances, and cold and heat therapy are also options.
Consult a doctor or physiotherapist if you have severe sciatica pain or it lasts for more than a few weeks. They can create a personalized exercise plan to relieve pain, increase strength, and improve body mechanics.