Working out with sciatica requires a bit of caution, but having the painful condition should by no means keep a person completely sidelined from physical activity and exercise. In fact, the “use it or lose it” saying applies even to those who have this condition; while rest is an important aspect of healing from an intense flare up, being overly sedentary for an extended period of time can sap your lower back of it’s strength and mobility, which only causes further problems.
Core workouts for sciatica prevention and relief
Well-developed core strength can help protect the lower back from becoming misaligned and lower the chances of strains and sprains.
Try this Sciatica Stretching Video or this short Home Ab Workout in order to tone and tighten your core to protect the otherwise vulnerable lower back.
Stretching for sciatica
Maintaining flexibility is very important for a person who is prone to develop this painful condition. Stretching the surrounding muscles in the lower back and hamstrings that might otherwise lead to a pinching of the sciatic nerve is of paramount importance. This Deep Glute Stretch is one of the best stretches that you can do to help keep the pain and stiffness at bay. Try it once and you will feel a deep stretch in the muscle along the back of the thigh and in the glutes.
Here is a Printable Sciatica Stretching Routine built specifically to relieve the tension of the muscles that play a big role in the development of the condition. Do these stretches as often as you feel necessary, and especially after working out – even if the workout was light (i.e. a walk).
How to do cardio workouts with back pain
Cardio is maybe the most difficult type of workout to do during a flare up, predominantly because so many types of cardio are fairly high impact. Cardio exercise is important to both healing and general health, however, including perks such as improved circulation, a strong heart, the release of mood boosting endorphins, and the burning of extra calories that might otherwise be stored as fat. Just because a person is struggling with lumbar issues doesn’t mean they have to lose out on the benefits and health advantages of cardio.
Here are a couple of different types of cardio workouts that are ideal for people who are currently struggling with sciatica or who are prone to chronic back pain.
Swimming & sciatica – Swimming is an excellent workout for people who suffer from back pain. It’s a very, very low impact environment for getting the heart rate up, with aqua aerobic activities burning as many calories (or more), as their land bound counterparts, without the jarring of the joints and spine. Whether you do aqua aerobics, water walk, or swim laps, a pool is a great place for low impact workouts.
Pilates and sciatica – Pilates workouts tend to be focused on developing core strength and for this reason can actually help to keep your spine properly aligned. Much of Pilates involves stretching in slow, smooth, and controlled motions. It is also a very low impact way to tone the body, making it a great choice for someone prone to back pain.
Yoga and sciatica – Many people who regularly practice yoga swear by it’s ability to alleviate back pain and prevent it from reoccurring. During a flare up, it would be best to stick to the more gentle of the yoga poses that are not overly taxing on the back.
Walking and sciatica – Walking for exercise without proper posture and thorough stretching when finished can actually lead to more sciatic troubles. However, walking is fantastic for people with back problems because it keeps extra bodyweight off (which would only intensify sciatic nerve issues) and it allows muscles to retain their mobility and limberness. Walking and lumbar pain can go well together if you keep your shoulders back, your head up, and your hips tucked in under your torso, almost as if you are trying to pull your hips up towards your bellybutton. Don’t let your spine become overly-curved so that your butt sticks out, as that can make it more likely that that sensitive nerve gets pinched.
When dealing with back issues and pinched nerves, always talk to your doctor or chiropractor before jumping back into any fitness routine.