333 East 38th Street, 6th Floor New York, NY 10016
Pain that radiates along your sciatic nerve down your buttocks, the back of your leg, and even to your foot is called sciatica. It is usually related to conditions like a herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease. A very common component of sciatica treatment includes an exercise program, because exercise is actually better than bed rest for relieving sciatica pain.
Why should I exercise for sciatica pain?
Your spinal structures and back muscles become less capable of supporting your back if you don’t regularly move and exercise. Deconditioning and weakening of those areas may cause back strain or injury, and therefore result in pain. Healthy spinal discs also depend on regular exercise, helping to prevent pressure on your sciatic nerve and related sciatica pain. The main goals of sciatica exercise is to reduce current sciatic pain and to prevent future reoccurrences of the pain.
How do I know what exercises to do?
Manhattan Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City is here to treat your sciatic pain. Part of that treatment plan will likely be specific exercises that target that issue. Dr. Fischer will provide a list of recommended exercises and teach you how to perform them properly. You may be referred to a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist to provide even more support and guidance. One of the key things to remember is to obtain an accurate diagnosis from Dr. Fischer before starting any exercise program so that you don’t risk damaging your body or worsening your pain.
Am I doing the exercises correctly?
Even if you have a list of appropriate sciatica exercises, doing them incorrectly may result in ineffective treatment or increased pain. Learn the specific exercises and how much to do and how often from Dr. Fischer or a qualified physical therapist so that you’re certain you are benefitting your body instead of harming it.
What are the important body parts to focus on?
Sciatica exercises tend to focus on a few important areas of the body for the best results. One of those is your core muscle strength, which means strengthening your abdominal and back muscles that help support your back. Hamstring stretches are also an important element of sciatica exercises. Your hamstring muscles are located behind your thighs and when those muscles are overly tight, it places extra stress on your low back and may aggravate sciatica symptoms. In addition to stretching your hamstrings, sciatica exercises also target stretching other muscles. A proper routine of stretching and strengthening exercises can help reduce sciatica pain and avoid flare-ups later.
What about cardio workouts?
Aerobic or cardio conditioning is also encouraged for your general fitness level, which in turn can improve your sciatica. Walking is one of the most highly recommended forms of exercise for the lower back due to its low impact nature, yet its ability to increase your cardio function. Dr. Fischer suggests gradually progressing up to three miles a day of brisk walking to help improve your sciatic pain.