If you’ve ever had to deal with sciatica you’re aware of how crippling the pain that this can be. Around 40% of people suffer from sciatica at one point in their lives. If you experience it you feel it is difficult for you to get your body moving however, doing some strength-training exercises to treat sciatica can ease the pain and put your body moving towards healing. Additionally, regular strength training can help to prevent sciatica from occurring in the first place.

Sciatica can be caused due to compression of the sciatic nerve which is a massive nerve which begins at the bottom of your spine near your pelvis . It traverses to the back portion of your leg, from your glute up to your feet. Inflammation caused by sciatica can be felt anywhere along this route or spread all over.

“People who suffer from sciatica might experience intense shooting, pulsing or burning pain in these locations,” says Abby Halpin DPT, PT an acupuncturist and director of Forte Performance and Physical Therapy. Patients may experience different sensations like feeling numb or tingling, says the doctor. Halpin. “Because that the sciatic nerve is a motor nerve and sensory information, the leg could feel stiff, heavy or hard to walk,” the doctor says. “Symptoms might last for several seconds or may be continuous and persistent.”

What is the cause of sciatica?

The doctor. Halpin says that sciatica can occur to everyone, but it’s most prevalent in people who are 30-50 years old. The symptoms usually show up slowly. “It occurs when a person is in a position that puts pressure on or stretches the nerve tissue for an extended duration for example, standing, sitting, or doing work in awkward positions or performing repetitive movements for extended periods of the day, particularly bent or twisting,” explains Dr. Halpin.

“Imagine lying down on your arm only to wake up feeling it tingling or completely numb” she states. “That could be another type that is a result of nerve compression, although it’s a relatively short-term one. It is similar to the way sciatica might begin. However, in the case of sciatica it’s not just a single night of sleep in a strange position, it’s typically several weeks or even months of being in these compression postures that can be problematic for sciatica sufferers.”

The doctor. Halpin says that reduced physical activity is usually at the source of sudden or acute sciatica due to the fact that those who are not active could be less able to withstand moves that strain the spine or the leg. This could, in turn, cause inflammation and pain in the sciatic nerve. “A typical case can be someone active in their daily life however, they bend down to lift a couch in the middle of the night,” she says. “The lower back muscles and ligaments surrounding the nerve are not accustomed to such a load and motion and send a signal to your brain that something risky could occur. The resultant pain will remove you from the danger, but it could cause permanent sciatica until the recovery process is complete.”

How can strength training help alleviate symptoms of sciatica

The Dr. Halpin says that strength training is the most effective method to increase your resilience against the various types of compression and load which could cause sciatica. “By training to lift heavy loads frequently, muscles become better prepared to take on compression and prevent the sciatic nerve from absorbing too much tension,” she says.

Training for strength also helps people be capable of moving, sitting and stand in various postures as according to Dr. Halpin adds. “By having a wide vocabulary of movement, individuals can stay away from using the same positions or movements constantly that means they spend less time exerting pressure on the sciatic nerve in a similar manner,” she explains. “Resilience and varieties are crucial for staying healthy.”

7 exercises for strength training to help sciatica discomfort

1. 90-90 hip lift

This workout builds the strength of your glutes, hamstrings, as well as your the core. Begin by lying back lying on your floor, with your feet placed on the chair’s seat or lying flat against the wall. Your knees and hips are bent 90 ° (hence that title) while keeping your heels aligned to the floor. You’ll also have the arms extended to your sides, pressing your palms down on the floor. In this position, without physically moving your feet, push your heels downwards to activate your back leg. Then, place your tailbone in a tuck and raise it a few inches off the ground–without lifting your back, and then lower it back to the floor. You will feel the backs of your legs (hamstrings) being worked. Keep going for 30-60 minutes.

2. Deadlifts

This is a fundamental exercise that builds the posterior chain (backside of your body). It also provides a great stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, thereby lengthening your sciatic nerve. Begin standing with a weight or any other household item such as an empty jug of laundry soap and both hands the direction of your body. Keep hands straight. Maintain a slight bent knee as you pivot your hips keeping your back straight while allowing your body to extend forward at 45-degrees as you lower the weight along the side of your shins towards the floor. Do the same with your heels until you get back up, while squeezing your glutes on top. Do 3 sets with 8 10 repetitions.

3. Rockbacks

Rockbacks are among the most effective exercises for sciatica or low back issues because they enhance the mind-body connection of your core muscles , and increase strength in the abdominal muscles of the deep and low back muscles. They can safeguard the spine as well as the nerves. Begin by laying onto your knees and hands. Make sure your arms are straight and then press the knees back to hover above your heels, while maintaining your back straight. Slowly return to your starting position. It’s one repetition. Do 3 sets with 8-10 repetitions.

4. Diagonal chops

This is a great exercise to build strength for sciatica as it builds the entire core, while also moving the spine. Start by standing with your feet approximately hip-width apart, with your knees bent gently. You can hold a heavy object or common objects like water bottles with two hands. Take a step to your right , and then feel your left and trunk (heel tall) to move towards that side. Then reverse the motion to bring the weight (with the control) towards your hip on the opposite side to make an expansive, diagonal-sweeping movement throughout your entire body. This is one repetition. Perform the three sets, which are 8-10 reps on each side.

5. Goblet Squats

Doctor. Halpin says that strengthening exercises such as this will ensure that your body is strong and capable of handling the demands of moves during daily activities. Start by standing on your feet with your legs slightly longer than your hips. Hold your hands in the front on your chest. (Optional to hold the top of a dumbbell horizontally using your hands with both.) Squat down , bend your knees while sitting your hips forward and then down towards your heels. Do to the lowest you are able while making sure your feet are on the flooring. Your elbow should be directed towards or close to your knees. Push your heels through until you get up and then stand back up. It’s one repetition. Perform 3 sets with 8-10 repetitions.

6. Thrusters

This is a great total-body strengthening exercise. It also helps build core strength and stability in the low back. The doctor. Halpin says you can make this exercise more challenging by using a dumbbell, or a the weighted object. Begin standing in a position with feet slightly larger than hips bent elbows, with elbows bent, and the hands pointing upwards towards your shoulders. Squat down to a comfortable height with your heels firmly on the floor. Step back up, extending your hands overhead while you go. Then, bring your hands back towards the starting position. This is one repetition. Perform the three sets, each of which is 8-10 reps.

7. Planks with a rounded edge

This exercise is perfect for sciatica since it builds your core, while not exerting too much stress onto the lower back. Put your hands on your backs and knees. Exhale and tuck your back to the side while feeling your abdominal muscles contract. Move each foot back in a plank position, keeping your hips down and your back in a rounded position. Maintain the position for about 5 to 4-5 minutes, with the focus on exhaling slowly and deeply at each breath. Repeat 3-4 times.

What is the typical time to get sciatica discomfort to subside

Doctor. Halpin says that many sufferers with sciatica symptoms worry about having sciatica forever, however it is possible to recover. “It could take up to an entire calendar year before symptoms completely disappear however that doesn’t mean that the severe symptoms will last forever,” she says. “The most lasting symptoms are typically smaller areas of numbness that are located in the foot or leg. A visit to physical therapists is the best method to discover the cause and the reason for the symptoms and also to develop plans to implement changes that can lessen the pain and stiffness.”

Rememberthat movement is medicine. Actively moving your body can help avoid from the nerve compression that is often the cause of this kind of pain and if you’re already suffering from it, the strengthening exercises for sciatica below can ease symptoms.