What are the Best Back Exercises for Sciatica?

Dan Cavallari

The sciatic nerve runs the length of each leg and into the hips, buttocks, and lower back, so when a person feels sciatic pain, the nerve itself can become compressed anywhere along that length. Before doing any back exercises for sciatica, it is important to determine the cause of the nerve pain; doing exercises may in some cases exacerbate the pain rather than alleviate it, so one should be sure to visit a doctor first. Once the source of the pain has been determined, a sciatic pain sufferer may begin doing stretching back exercises for sciatica, as well as a core workout that will strengthen the muscles that support the spine.

Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.
Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.

A core muscle workout will include back exercises for sciatica as well as other strengthening exercises for core muscles such as the stomach muscles, groin muscles, and hip muscles. These muscles are responsible for properly supporting the spine, and when these muscles are not properly conditioned, they may allow spinal compression, poor posture, and other health issues that can result in sciatica. A core workout will include back exercises for sciatica such as bicycle kicks, leg lifts, balance exercises, and a significant amount of back stretches.

A core workout may include back exercises for sciatica, such as leg lifts.
A core workout may include back exercises for sciatica, such as leg lifts.

Stretching the core muscles will help keep the muscles conditioned, limber, and ready to support the spine properly. Tight muscles are more likely to become strained, and they are also more likely to pull the spine or hips out of alignment. Back exercises for sciatica should always be mixed with sufficient stretching exercises, both before and after a workout. Stretching exercises may include actions as simple as touching one's toes, or they may be more elaborate stretches that target specific back muscles. Such stretches will often twist the muscles of the spine gently to moderately, and some personal trainers or physical therapists may recommend active stretches, in which a person is actively stretching the muscles against a resistant force such as a resistance band.

Back muscles can be strengthened with core workouts.
Back muscles can be strengthened with core workouts.

Stretching and strengthening the hamstrings, while not back exercises for sciatica, can help alleviate sciatic pain throughout the legs and even in the lower back. The hamstrings are long muscles on the backside of the thighs, and when these muscles become tense, they can compress on the nerve or pull joints in such a way that nerves become compressed in the hips or knees. Ensuring the hamstrings are strong and limber can go a long way toward lower back health, since tight muscles in the legs often lead to tightness in the hips, which can in turn lead to tightness and pain in the lower back.

If the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, it can cause pain and numbness down the leg.
If the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, it can cause pain and numbness down the leg.
Keeping the back muscles stretched is important for someone with sciatic pain.
Keeping the back muscles stretched is important for someone with sciatic pain.

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Discussion Comments

anon1001468

I have sciatica and my GP prescribed Tramadol. I took one 50gm tablet before bed and when I got up in the morning I had bad effects from it. They were I was very hot, bright red face, felt sick and was sick, itching across my shoulders and bad headache. I felt really ill and had to lay down again. About an hour later I was sick and I felt much better. Still had pain in my leg and foot. Have not taken another tablet since and my sciatica is still bad.

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