Treadmills And Sciatica – Everything You Need To Know

Treadmill and Sciatica
Sciatica is defined as inflammation and irritation of the sciatic nerve secondary to compression or pinching. The sciatic nerve starts in the low back and branches down the back of both legs. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc that is putting direct pressure on the sciatic nerve root exiting the spinal cord. Symptoms of sciatica typically include lower body stiffness, leg or core weakness, low back pain and sharp pain into the butt and/or legs.

Disclaimer: Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist first prior to starting any exercise program when you are experiencing pain. These are general recommendations that may or may not fit your specific needs.

What Exercises Can I Do With Sciatica?

If you’re dealing with sciatic nerve pain, you may be wondering what you can actually do. Think you need to spend a lot of time resting? Wrong. The good news is that, unless symptoms are severe, one of the best ways to alleviate pain and boost healing power is with movement.

Initially, you should focus on gentle pain-free stretches for the low back and legs. With time you can build to more dynamic exercises like core strengthening and low impact movements such as swimming, walking, and biking. What specific stretches and exercises are best for you is dependent on your fitness goals and symptoms. Regardless, the primary goal will always be keeping good mechanics and posture with exercise and daily activities to allow proper healing.

Is Walking On A Treadmill Good For Sciatica?

One of the biggest triggers for sciatica is prolonged sitting, particularly when it’s done in poor posture. This is due to the additional compression that occurs at the nerve in a forward flexed position. Thus, any type of movement that negates a sitting posture will feel great and give you some much-needed relief. Postures that should feel good include standing, lying on the stomach, and even walking.

If a normal part of your exercise routine is the use of a treadmill, sciatica symptoms may have you wondering if you can continue. The short answer is: yes, absolutely. Walking is a lower impact exercise that comes with a lot of benefits for the low back. With regular walking on your treadmill, you can get your heart rate up, increase your circulation to boost your body’s healing capabilities, and stay in shape as you recover.

Using A Treadmill And Sciatica

The key to using the treadmill is to pick a speed and incline that you are comfortable keeping without exacerbating your symptoms. At first, these parameters may need to be lower than your normal pace. However, you should be able to increase your pace and intensity with time as your strength returns and pain decreases.

One exercise that you may want to think twice about is running. Generally, running is not recommended because of the higher impact it has on the spine that can aggravate your injury and symptoms. However, your previous fitness level and comfort with running can help in your decision. If you can modify your running pace or mechanics to reduce joint impact and minimize pain, it may be a possibility for you. Ultimately, never force an exercise or move that causes pain.

Always Listen To Your Body

The bottom line with exercise and sciatica is that every person deals with injury and symptoms a little differently. What works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa. Always tune into your symptoms and use them as a gauge for what you should and shouldn’t be doing. If you are comfortable with using a treadmill, it can be an integral part of your workout and sciatica recovery program.

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