The article Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief originally appeared on spine-health.com.

For most instances of sciatica pain, a controlled, progressive exercise program that is tailored around the underlying cause of the sciatic pain will be part of the recommended treatment program. The specific sciatica exercises serve two main purposes:

  • Reduce the sciatic pain in the near term
  • Provide conditioning to help prevent future recurrences of the pain

A physical therapist, chiropractor, physiatrist (PM&R, or Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physician), certified athletic trainer (ATC), or other spine specialist who treats leg pain and other symptoms will typically prescribe specific exercises and teach the patient how to do them.

Exercise Provides Sciatica Pain Relief

While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise is usually better for relieving sciatic pain than bed rest. Patients may rest for a couple days after sciatic pain flares up, but after that time period, inactivity will usually make the pain worse.

Without exercise and movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become deconditioned and less able to support the back. The deconditioning and weakening can lead to back injury and strain, which causes additional pain. In addition, active exercise is also important for the health of the spinal discs. Movement helps exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs to keep them healthy and prevent pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Aspects of an Exercise Program for Sciatica Relief

Before beginning any exercise program, it is important to see a health professional to get a correct diagnosis for pain and to rule out any more serious problems. Most exercise programs for sciatica relief will be tailored to the underlying cause of pain, such as a lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

Typical features of any sciatica exercise program include:

  • Core muscle strength. Many sciatica exercises serve to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles in order to provide more support for the back. Stretching exercises for sciatica target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible. When patients engage in a regular program of gentle strengthening and stretching exercises, they can recover more quickly from a flare up of sciatica and are less likely to experience future episodes of pain.
  • Hamstring stretching. Regardless of the diagnosis, most types of sciatica will benefit from a regular routine of hamstring stretching. The hamstrings are muscles located in the back of the thigh. Overly tight hamstrings increase the stress on the low back and often aggravate or even cause some of the conditions that result in sciatica.
  • Aerobic exercises. In addition to specific sciatica exercises, aerobic conditioning may also be encouraged for general fitness. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for the low back because it is relatively low impact but can provide all the benefits of an aerobic workout. If possible, it is best to gradually progress to doing up to 3 miles of exercise walking at a brisk pace each day.

Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief from spine-health.com

If you are one of the many people suffering from neck pain, chronic lower back pain, scoliosis, sciatica or another spine-related condition, you will be in great hands at Connecticut Back Center (CBC). CBC was founded by Jesse Eisler, MD, PhD, in 2005 and with offices in Vernon and Bloomfield, CT serves the Greater Hartford and Central Connecticut area. Our mission is to provide accurate, responsive and effective spinal care with comprehensive non-surgical and surgical treatments for the full spectrum of spinal disorders. Our goal is always to reduce your pain, increase your flexibility and help you resume an active life after treatment. To learn more about your treatment options, give us a call at (860) 872-6229 or request an appointment online now.

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