Sciatica is the name of pain that radiates from the lower back downwards. It is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve and can be debilitating at times. Exercise is often recommended for people suffering from sciatica, as it is thought to strengthen muscles in the back, buttock, and hip area, reduce inflammation, and improve posture. However, certain exercises can actually worsen sciatica symptoms and cause further injury if not done correctly.
Understanding what not to do when it comes to workouts is key to reducing or at least not worsening your pain.
Doing Too Much Too Soon
If you’re new to exercising, it’s important to start slowly and build up gradually. Jumping into an intense workout routine can be too much for your body, leading to strain and injury that will only exacerbate your sciatica pain. Take things slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time.
For example, instead of working out for an hour every day, start with 10 minutes and build up from there.
Doing the Wrong Exercises
Certain exercises will put too much strain on your lower back and aggravate your sciatica pain. The key is to focus on strengthening the muscles in your back and buttock area while avoiding exercises that strain your lower back.
Thus, exercises to avoid include heavy weightlifting, crunches and sit-ups, toe touches, leg lifts, hamstring curls, and any other exercises that involve bending your spine or require you to twist.
Not Warming Up
It’s important to warm up before any exercise session as this helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and reduces your risk of injury. Thus, warming up before exercise can also reduce sciatica pain, so make sure you take the time to warm up properly before beginning any workout routine.
A good warm-up should include dynamic stretching and some light cardio exercises. Aim for 5-10 minutes of preparation before any workout session.
Not Stretching Post-Workout
It’s just as important to stretch after a workout as it is to warm up beforehand. Stretching helps to reduce muscle stiffness and tightness, which can help decrease your sciatica pain.
Aim for 5-10 minutes of stretching after each workout session. Focus on the muscles in your lower back, buttocks, and hips, as these are the areas most likely to be causing you pain.
When exercising with sciatica, it’s important to be aware of the mistakes that can exacerbate your symptoms. By avoiding too much too soon, not doing the wrong exercises, warming up, and stretching post-workout, you can reduce your pain and improve your overall health. Take things slow and focus on strengthening the muscles in your lower back, buttocks, and hips for best results and you can develop an exercise program that works for you and your sciatica pain. If in doubt, always consult with a doctor or physiotherapist before beginning any new exercise routine.