what should you not do with sciatica

Sciatica pain commonly comes on when a bone spur or herniated disc compresses a spinal nerve root in your lower back, causing intense anguish in your back, leg, and butt. If you are living with sciatica, you may be trying everything to stop your pain: physical therapy, epidural injections, and other drugs. But did you realize there are several normal, everyday activities that might actually irritate your condition?

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what are some exercises, stretches, and activities to avoid if you have sciatica

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what should you not do with sciatica

Exercise, Stretches, and Activities to Avoid if You Have Sciatica

Listen to your body and keep away from any activities that create pain. Certain exercises might increase sciatica symptoms, especially if they strain or put pressure on your back, core, and legs. While it’s crucial to build strength and flexibility in these areas, you need to do so carefully and safely.

Avoid high-impact activities which might increase symptoms and cause damage. If you’re suffering significant pain, take a break from activities. However, inactivity or sitting for long periods may increase your symptoms, so attempt to undertake modest exercise or stretching when possible.

Here are exercises, stretches, and activities to avoid if you have sciatica. If you have general back discomfort without sciatica, it’s a good idea to stay away from these workouts as well.

1. Avoid Exercises That Stretch Your Hamstrings

Stretching your hamstrings might cause sciatica. Some exercises to skip? Straight-leg sit-ups, leaning forward and touching your toes, squats with weights, and the yoga pose known as the downward dog. Also, avoid practicing leg circles when you lie on your back and make circles with your legs while one leg is down and the other one is raised.

2. Seated and Standing Forward Bend

This exercise can bring tension and stress to your lower back, pelvis, and hamstrings, which aggravates sciatica.

3. Hurdler Stretch

This stretch strains your back, hips, and hamstrings. Twisting your pelvis puts greater tension on your back as you bend forward.

4. Supine Leg Circles

This Pilates exercise stretches your hamstring as you rotate your leg in a circular motion. This can cause pain, aggravate the sciatic nerve, and create a hamstring injury.

5. Double Leg Lift

This supine workout involves rising and lowering both legs simultaneously, which activates your abdominals and leg muscles. It can increase sciatic discomfort, especially if you utilize poor form.

6. Revolved Triangle Posture

This pose may cause you to overstretch your spine, hips, and hamstrings, which can aggravate sciatica.

7. Burpees

This workout involves high-impact movements that might worsen back and hip problems. Repeatedly bending forward and jumping can increase sciatica symptoms.

8. Bent-Over Row

This weightlifting exercise can strain your low back and aggravate your sciatic nerve, especially if you do it with a rounded spine. This can cause inflammation, a herniated disc, or an injury.

9. Weighted Squats

Weighted squats enhance compression on your lower back, nerves, and intervertebral discs. They can also exert strain on your legs, leading to pain and injury. Try them instead without weights, keeping your core engaged and your back in a neutral position. Stop if you feel any pain or tightness in your back.

10. Cycling

Cycling may put a strain on your spine and sciatic nerve, especially on a hard bike seat. Riding in a slumped or forward-leaning position might trigger sciatica, especially if your seat and handlebars are positioned wrong.

11. High-Impact Sports

Avoid any form of high-impact activity or contact sport that encourages you to make rapid movements or put stress on your body. This includes basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, running, and HIIT workouts.

Things to Avoid if You Have Sciatica

Avoid Sitting For Longer Than 20 Minutes

After 20 minutes or so, stand up and move about for a bit before sitting back down. When you do sit, avoid bending forward. And don’t sit on a soft sofa, which is not supportive.

Avoid Bed Rest

If you are genuinely in a lot of pain, you can stay in bed but not for longer than 48 hours. When you are suffering from acute sciatica, and you can’t find a comfortable posture, there may be not much else you can do but rest, he says. But after no more than 48 hours, you should plan to get out of bed. It is crucial to stay moving.

Avoid Bending Over

Bending forward to pick up an object increases shearing pressures on the spine caused by the gravity that our muscles and ligaments have to resist when in the forward flexed position. When this is paired with the weight of the object you are lifting, your ligaments, bones, and discs may become overloaded and you may get injured.

Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects

Follow your doctor’s guidelines but generally, in the acute phase of sciatica, avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 15 pounds. And when you lift, do not attempt to lift an object that is far away from your body.

What Exercises Should You Do With Sciatica?

Several exercises and stretches assist relieve sciatica. Exercise increases soft tissue recovery, boosts your nervous system, and may make you less susceptible to pain.

It’s crucial to undertake some physical activity daily, even if it’s merely light stretching. Walking, swimming, and water treatment exercises are also fantastic possibilities. When walking, travel at a comfortable speed and avoid walking uphill.

Work on developing flexibility and strengthening strength in your back, core, and leg muscles. You must also enhance your posture, alignment, and movement patterns. Only stretch as far as you’re comfortable, and remember that flexibility can vary every day. Stop if you encounter pain.


Stay away from exercises that cause discomfort or exacerbate sciatica symptoms. Be gentle with yourself and focus on activities that safely reduce discomfort and develop strength, mobility, and alignment.

To enhance healing, eat a balanced diet, minimize your stress levels, and get lots of quality sleep. You can also check into acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic therapies. Topical pain medicines, lumbar bracing, and heat and cold therapy are additional alternatives.

See a doctor or physical therapist if you have sciatic pain that’s severe or lasts more than a few weeks. They can construct a specific exercise regimen to ease discomfort, build strength, and enhance your body mechanics.