Sciatica Workout

For years I struggled to figure what the best exercises and stretches were that would not cause my sciatic nerve to flare up. Before the sciatica problems began I was very big on lifting weights, martial arts, fitness classes and track and field type sports. These were some pretty heavy type type of exercises. However, once I began with leg and lower back pain I found that I could no longer do many of these activities and certainly not lift heavy weights. Also, the bulky muscles would put more weight on my lower back and sciatic nerve. This was very distressing to me since physical fitness was always a big priority in my life and all of a sudden I couldn’t lift anymore.

I read through numerous articles and asked a number of physicians, chiropractors, and yoga instructors about how I could still workout. Most of them gave me the same advice, MAKE YOUR CORE STRONGER. If your core is strong then less strain is on your spine to support the rest of your body. The focus of my workout became less about building up my upper body and more about strengthening my core.

So over the years I’ve developed the following workout/ exercises for sciatica to try and stay in shape. It’s broken up into a few sections: warm-up, core, upper body, yoga and cardio.

Warm up

  • Chest Stretch
  • Cross Body Stretch
  • Overhead Tricep and Shoulder Stretch
  • Overhead Stretch (Be careful with this one. For some people it may cause more pain.)
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch
  • Straight Leg Hip Flexor
  • Standing Quad Stretch (Again check on this one before doing)
  • Wall Calf Stretch
  • Arm Circles
  • 10 to 15 Pushups (Modify to the amount you are comfortable with)

You can choose to do all of the exercises in one or break up into multiple days. I usually assign a different day of the week for upper body, core, yoga and cardio.

Core

  • Crunches with legs raised (these are very light crunches. Barely move your body off the ground. I have hurt myself before but pulling myself up too much. Take some time figure out your confort zone on this one.)
  • Kneeling Rear Leg Raises
  • Planks
  • Side Planks with leg raises
  • Leg raise hold (90 degrees)
  • Superman pose
  • Table tops
  • Kneeling side leg raise
  • Pilates imprint
  • Plank leg raises

Upper body

Three Repitions 1st Rotation:

  • Pushups – Regular
  • Lying bicpeps curls with bands
  • Pushups – Wide
  • Lying Front Deltid Raises with bands
  • Pushups – Triangle

2nd Rotation:

  • Kneeling Lat Pull Down with bands
  • Pike Pushups
  • Forarm to Hand Planks

Yoga

  • Mountain Pose
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Warrior 3
  • Modified Sun Salution Sequence
    • Mountain Pose
    • Upward Salute
    • Half Standing Forward Bend
    • Four-Limbed Staff Pose
    • Upward-Facing Dog Pose
    • Downward-Facing Dog Pose
    • Half Standing Forward Bend
    • Upward Salute
    • Mountain Pose
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Downward Dog
  • Downward Dog with leg lift (closed Hip)
  • Downward Dog with leg lift (Open Hip)
  • Pigeon
  • Cat and Cow Pose
  • Eye-of-the-Needle Pose
  • Half Knees-to-Chest Pose
  • Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (pump foot)
  • Butterfly or Frog Pose
  • Child’s Pose

Check out my post on the top ten yoga poses for sciatica relief.

Cardio

Running is definitely a No No. This can put a lot of pressure on your lower back.

  • Biking. I do this on my commute to work. I have tried a few cycling classes as well. Make sure to adjust your seat and handle bars so it is comfortable for your lower back.
  • Swimming (certain strokes can irritate your back so make sure ask your doctor. I may write a different post about this)
  • Walking
  • Piyo or Pilates (only certain videos and exercises. I have found these to be really great videos)
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.

With each workout make sure to take it slow. Each person’s condition and comfort zone may be different. If something hurts then skip it or take the time to build up to it.