What Exercises Should I Avoid if I Have Sciatic Pain?
Dealing with sciatica can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. If what your doctors are saying isn’t working, or you simply can’t deal with the side effects anymore, you may feel tempted to turn to Google. However, while you can find many helpful things, it’s important to know what sciatica exercises to avoid.
The internet is full of information on stretching and exercising, and there are many blogs and articles that discuss what kind of stretching you can do to improve sciatica. Unfortunately, while much of this information is helpful, there could be some misleading tips floating around.
If you follow some of these misleading tips, you could end up making your pain worse. The stretches could even cause some new pain, especially if you’re unknowingly doing something wrong.
At Stretch Zone, we want what’s best for your health, which is why we offer quality services of assisted stretching. Today, you can finally feel relief from sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a pain that will usually affect only one side of your body. It gets its name due to the position of the pain, which runs along the sciatic nerve. This nerve begins in the lower back and travels through your hips and buttocks, as well as down each leg. However, while the nerve itself travels down both legs, the pain is usually only felt in one.
Furthermore, some cases of sciatica can be severe and potentially lead to surgery, but it will often go away after just a few weeks.
What Causes Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve can sometimes become pinched due to a range of factors. One of these is a herniated disk in the spine. This can be the result of either an injury or the body simply wearing down from age.
Another cause is an overgrowth of the bone, which is called a bone spur. Bone spurs are typically a result of inflammation from osteoarthritis or tendinitis.
As you can see, sciatica is something that usually happens because of issues in other parts of your body. So, it is important to recognize the signs and give your body the treatment it needs before the discomfort gets worse. Knowing which sciatica exercises to avoid is a crucial step toward recovery.
Common Sciatica Symptoms
While the pain of sciatica is felt along the nerve, the exact location can vary. It could be noticed along the entirety of the nerve or just in one specific location. The degree of pain can also be different, ranging from some slight discomfort to something much more sharp and severe.
Some people might even experience a burning sensation or something similar to an electric shock. Other common symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
More extreme symptoms may mean that sciatica exercises aren’t going to be enough and you need to see a doctor. These include:
- Sudden severe pain
- Difficulty controlling bowels or bladder
Sciatica Risk Factors
Like many issues with the body, some people are more at risk of developing sciatica than others. If you find yourself fitting into a few of these categories, you may be someone who’s at a higher risk.
As we grow older, we naturally get a lot of new aches and tingles popping up everywhere. It’s simply part of the aging process. Changes in the spine due to our age give us a higher chance of herniated discs, a major cause of sciatica.
Diabetes is a disease that can cause nerve damage in response to how your body handles its blood sugar. Since sciatica is caused by issues with the sciatic nerve, diabetes can put you at a higher risk.
Due to the sciatic nerve’s relationship with your spine, the more pressure on the spine, the higher chance of sciatica pain. Those who are obese are putting much more weight on their spine than those who are physically fit.
If you have an office job or find yourself sitting all day, you could also be at a higher risk for sciatica. This is partly from the stress placed on the spine, as well as the possibility of poor posture.
Sciatica Exercises to Avoid
Now that you know a little bit more about sciatica, let’s look at some of the stretches and exercises you should avoid. You might initially think these stretches could benefit your body, especially if you find a seemingly useful article, but they could actually make everything worse.
Leg circles are fairly simple. You just swing your leg around in a circular motion; however, this could lead to irritation in your sciatic nerve. When you’re completing these leg circles, you’re continually stretching your hamstring in a quick, and sometimes inconsistent, manner.
This could create new issues if you’re not careful, and if you already have sciatic nerve pain, it could increase the pain you’re feeling. Similarly, any exercise where you’re stretching or moving your legs in this manner could lead to more issues.
Therefore, sports like football and soccer, as well as yoga and Pilates, should be avoided or at least limited until your pain has subsided.
The bent-over row exercise is a method that can be greatly beneficial to your sciatic nerve. The problem with this one, however, is that it can very easily go wrong. Whenever you do a stretch or exercise in poor form, you have a chance of straining your muscles and injuring yourself.
This exercise can make your life a lot more difficult if you complete it improperly because it can cause a herniated disc. Whether a herniated disc was the cause of your sciatica in the first place or not, getting one when you already have pain from your sciatic nerve will be extremely uncomfortable. The risk involved for multiple areas of the body make this stretch among the major sciatica exercises to avoid.
Being able to turn to someone who has experience in stretching techniques is particularly important because the goal is obviously to make yourself feel better, rather than worse. With the assistance of a stretch practitioner, you won’t need to worry about stretching improperly.
Double Leg Lift
At the surface level, the double leg lift is another stretch that you should simply avoid due to the possibility of aggravating your sciatic nerve. However, if you look beyond that, you can also walk the line into potentially overstretching–leading to even more problems.
When doing a double leg lift, you’ll be lying on your back while slowly lifting both of your legs toward the ceiling. This is a great exercise for both the back and abdominal muscles, but you could be straining yourself if you’re not careful.
Many times, people will want to do more than what their body is capable of. If you have weaker abdominal muscles and you attempt to do a double leg lift, you may end up hurting yourself. Your body may not be ready for that level of intensity, so you’ll need to build up to that point.
So, how do you build up to that point? Stick to only a single leg lift instead. When completed with a stretch practitioner, their specialized training will help you judge your body’s capability.
Why Assisted Stretching is the Way to Go
The best thing about assisted stretching is that your stretch practitioner handles everything. From what stretches you need to how many times you need to do them, they have you covered. As the name suggests, they even assist you with the actual stretching–meaning there is much less risk of pinching a nerve or overextending your body past its limits.
Furthermore, if you are experiencing discomfort from sciatica, it’s extremely important to not compound the problem. A lot of stretches can help you feel much better, but those same stretches can ultimately have the opposite effect as well. Going to an expert can make all the difference.
What Makes Stretch Zone Stand Out?
At Stretch Zone, we go beyond what’s expected to get you on the right track to feeling great. Our stretch practitioners genuinely care about your health and how it affects your comfort levels daily.
When you come to see us, we’ll walk you through numerous stretches to assist with annoying sciatic pain and any other aches or pinches you may be feeling.
Stretches That Can Help
While we’ve gone through some sciatica stretches that should be avoided, especially if completed on your own, let’s look at some of the techniques the stretch practitioners at Stretch Zone may utilize to help you return to normal.
Sitting Spinal Stretch
For this stretch, you’ll begin by sitting up. Your feet will be out in front of you on the ground, a little wider than shoulder-length apart. Your hands will be positioned behind your head with your fingers interwoven.
With your chin down and your elbows out, we’ll assist you with moving your torso to the left while bringing the right elbow to the right knee. After slowly moving back to the starting position, we’ll do the same routine on the other side. Then, we repeat the movement several times.
Knee to Opposite Shoulder
The knee to opposite shoulder stretch is meant to target both your piriformis and gluteal muscles. These can easily become inflamed, adding extra pressure to the sciatic nerve.
To begin, we’ll have you laying on your back with your legs in front of you. With your feet flexed, we’ll guide you to bend the right leg, which will be pulled toward the left shoulder. Like any stretch, the goal here isn’t to stretch as far as you can and risk injuring yourself. Our stretch practitioners will recognize your flexibility level and guide you to getting the most beneficial movement for your situation.
Once we bring you back to the starting position, we’ll repeat the stretch and then move onto the other side.
Knee to Chest
This stretch is fairly straightforward. While resting on one of our patented tables, we’ll begin by bringing your knee up to your chest. After holding in that position, we’ll lower it to a resting state on the table, then do the same for the other leg.
For some people, this might be a little easier with the legs bent to start, so depending on your flexibility, we will adjust accordingly.
This one gets its name because your legs emulate the movement of an open clam. While on your side, you should have your top leg resting on the bottom leg. The key here is not having your legs perfectly straight. You should be bending your knees at approximately 45 degrees.
With your knees still bent, we will help you raise the top knee as much as possible without forcing it to go beyond what’s necessary. After holding the knee in place, we’ll gently bring it back down and repeat both on that leg and the other.
The pelvic tilt will start with you lying on your back with your knees bent. One of our stretch practitioners will then have you tighten the muscles in your abdomen. Next, you’ll move your pelvis toward the ceiling with your feet and back staying flat on the surface. Your buttocks should only be slightly raised.
The glute bridge begins with the same starting position as the pelvic tilt. However, the stretch itself is a little more complicated. With your arms out from your side, we’ll help you raise your body off the table as you simultaneously squeeze your gluteal muscles.
The form we’ll be looking for here is a straight line from the knees to your shoulders. Then, after momentarily holding that position, we’ll bring you back to the original starting position. This should be repeated numerous times with some rest in between.
Interesting Facts About Sciatica
There’s a lot of things many people don’t know about sciatica. Aside from sciatica exercises to avoid, here are some of the more interesting facts:
- It’s better to stretch and exercise than simply resting
- Other conditions may exhibit similar symptoms, such as a broken hip or pelvic muscle spasm
- Men are three times more susceptible to sciatica than women
- Maintaining good posture can help prevent sciatica
Look Past the Sciatica Exercises to Avoid and Let Stretch Zone Help
Instead of worrying about which exercises and stretches to do, come to the experts at Stretch Zone! We know how to move your body and recognize the signs for optimum benefit. This completely bypasses the stress of potentially causing more aches or injury. With the help of our stretch practitioners, you should see a noticeable decrease in your sciatica pain. Contact us today to get started!