Sciatica is the pain or sensation that occurs along your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed from the nerve roots in the lumbar and sacrum spine and extends through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. A bulging disc often causes sciatica. Compression, inflammation, or irritation of the sciatic nerve can also cause sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica include stabbing or burning pain, and tiredness, numbness, or tingling.
Usually, sciatica only affects one side of your body. During a sciatica flare-up, some movements can be difficult, but it’s important to stay active. Avoid vigorous sports, exercises, and movements that put stress on the sciatic region. Stay away from activities, movements, or postures that cause pain.
Discover the types of exercises and activities to avoid for sciatica, as well as exercises that will improve your flexibility, mobility, and strength.
Listen to your body and stay away from activities that cause pain. Certain exercises can make sciatica symptoms worse, especially if they put strain or strain on your back, trunk, and legs. While increasing strength and flexibility in these areas is important, you need to do so slowly and confidently.
Avoid high-impact activities that can worsen symptoms and cause injury. If you are in severe pain, take a break from the activity. However, inactivity or long periods of sitting can make your symptoms worse. Therefore, try to do light exercises or stretches whenever 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 refrain from these exercises as well.
1. Sitting and standing forward bend
This exercise can create tension and stress in the lower back, pelvis, and thighs, making sciatica worse.
2. Hurdles course
This stretch puts a strain on your back, hips, and thighs. Rotating your pelvis puts more strain on your back as you fold forward.
3. Leg circles in the supine position
This Pilates exercise stretches your hamstring as you rotate your leg in a circular motion. This can cause pain, irritate the sciatic nerve, and cause a thigh injury.
4. Double leg raises
In this back exercise, both legs are raised and lowered at the same time, which activates your abdominal and leg muscles. It can make sciatic pain worse, especially if you use the wrong shape.
5. Rotated triangle pose
This pose can cause you to overstretch your spine, hips, and hamstrings, which can make sciatica worse.
This exercise involves forceful movements that can exacerbate back and hip pain. Repeated bending and jumping can make sciatica symptoms worse.
7. Bent over row
This weightlifting exercise can put strain on your lower back and irritate your sciatic nerve, especially if you’re doing it with a rounded spine. This can lead to inflammation, a herniated disc, or injury.
8. Weight squats
Weighted squats increase compression of the lower back, nerves, and intervertebral discs. They can also put pressure on your legs, causing pain and injury. Instead, try them without weights, keeping your core moving and your back in a neutral position. Stop if you experience pain or tightness in your back.
Cycling can increase the pressure on your spine and sciatic nerve, especially on a hard bike seat. Riding in a bent or forward-leaning position can cause sciatica irritation, especially if the seat and handlebars are incorrectly positioned.
10. High-impact sports
Avoid any kind of strenuous activity or contact sports that cause you to make sudden movements or strain your body. These include basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, running, and HIIT workouts.
Several exercises and stretches will help treat sciatica. Exercise promotes soft tissue healing, has a positive effect on your nervous system and can make you less sensitive to pain.
It’s important to do some physical activity every day, even if it’s just gentle stretching. Walking, swimming, and water therapy exercises are also great options. When walking, move at a comfortable pace and avoid going uphill.
Work on increasing flexibility and building strength in your back, core, and leg muscles. You also need to improve your posture, alignment, and movement patterns. Only stretch as far as you are comfortable and keep in mind that flexibility can vary on a daily basis. Stop when you are in pain.
Stay away from exercises that cause pain or worsen sciatic symptoms. Be gentle with yourself and focus on movements that are sure to relieve symptoms and develop strength, mobility, and alignment.
To improve healing, follow a healthy diet, lower your stress levels, and get adequate quality sleep. You can also consider acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic treatments. Topical pain relievers, lumbar braces, and heat and cold therapy are also options.
See a doctor or physical therapist if you have sciatic pain that is severe or lasts for more than a few weeks. You can create a personalized training plan to relieve pain, build strength, and improve your body mechanics.