5 Tips for Exercising with Sciatica
The sciatic nerve runs from the lumbar spine down to the legs and feet. Unfortunately, a compressed sciatic nerve can become irritated over time, which causes pain, numbness, or tingling across the back, buttocks, and down the leg. This condition is called sciatica and is often treatable with exercise. Proper exercise can improve the health of the muscles and joints in the spice and nourish spinal discs effectively, reducing the pressure on the sciatic nerve roots.
5 Exercise Tips to Relieve Sciatica Pain
It’s essential to listen to the body when exercising. Certain exercises can exacerbate sciatica symptoms, especially if they strain or add pressure to the back, core, or legs. Keeping active is necessary but must be done carefully to avoid worsening the condition.
1. Apply Heat Before Workout
Applying heat to the rear pelvis for 15 to 20 minutes before exercising can help by improving blood flow and stretching soft tissue. Heat therapy increases the temperature of the tissues, causing blood vessels to dilate. Dilation of blood vessels improves blood flow, oxygen, and healing nutrients to the lower back. Applying heat can stretch the muscles around the spine, reducing stiffness and increasing flexibility.
2. Start Slow and Gentle
The best approach is to add activity into a daily routine gradually. It’s vital to stretch the core muscle for treating sciatica, but exercise must be slow and gentle. A leisurely walk or bike ride combined with light stretching can help loosen up lower back and leg muscles without straining the nerve. Overworking abdominal muscles may cause sciatica symptoms to flare up.
3. Be Careful with Form
Gently stretching the hamstring and lower back can relieve sciatica as long as it’s not overdone. Overstretching or extending the wrong way can worsen the condition. The lower back, legs, or hips may be stiff or achy when first starting to work out. Soreness and aches are normal. However, if there is pain, it’s best to stop whatever stretch you are doing. Good beginning stretches include:
- Pelvic Tilt
- Modified plank
Avoid stretches that bend forward or rotate the torso. Gradually add more advanced stretches to strengthen your core muscles. Stretching should be done three or four times a week on alternating days.
4. Try Low-Impact Aerobic Activities
Low-impact aerobic activities increase circulation and loosen stiff muscles. Doing a light aerobic activity at least five times a week can help enhance soft tissue healing, benefit the nervous system, and reduce pain. Some low-impact aerobic activities include:
- Riding a stationary bike
- Water exercises
These activities can build strength in the back, core and leg muscles without aggravating the sciatic nerve further. They can also improve your posture, alignment, and movement patterns.
5. Avoid High-Impact Aerobic Activities
Too much activity can worsen sciatica. Symptoms can exacerbate with the wrong type of exercise. High-impact aerobic activities to avoid include:
- Contact sports
- Weight lifting
A proper exercise routine for treating sciatica includes low-impact aerobics, core strengthening exercises, and gentle stretching. It’s best to start slow and gradually work up to more intense workouts. Should symptoms worsen, pull back on the intensity and return to the basics.
Spinal Pain Relief at NJ Spine & Orthopedic
If exercising and home treatments have not relieved your pain, it may be time to contact a medical professional. Chronic pain, discomfort, and stiffness can prohibit you from enjoying daily activities and experiences. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, our medical team of experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, and physicians work to achieve the best possible result for our patients.
Our medical team has successfully performed thousands of minimally invasive procedures. By prioritizing minimally invasive treatments, our patients have a faster recovery time and return to their lives much sooner.