Sciatica: How Exercise Can Help Relieve Pain – Mitchell Pateman AEP

I am sure most people have heard of the term sciatica and many have been unfortunate enough to suffer from it. Sciatic pain generally arises from the lower back and travels along the path of the sciatic nerve into the lower leg and possibly the foot. Typically, people will report single sided symptoms which may include a constant burning or shooting pain from the buttock which radiates towards the foot. Sciatic pain may also be associated with weakness or numbness and can be very debilitating, significantly impacting a person’s ability to complete day to day activities.

It is important to be aware that sciatica refers to the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve and will have an underlying cause. The cause of this pain could be multifactorial and may be due to things such as:

  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Trauma to the spine
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Spinal tumours (rarely)

Benefits of exercise

Exercise is important in the management of sciatica. Exercise can assist by strengthening the supporting musculature around the spine leading to improvements in postural control and muscle activation. Mobility and flexibility exercise can assist in improving stiffness around the spine and may reduce compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve. Some simple exercises that can assist in relieving sciatica symptoms include.

  • Supine pelvic tilt/glute bridge
  • Supine glute/piriformis stretch
  • Kneeling psoas stretch
  • Supine lateral knee rolls
  • Glute trigger point

As always if you would like further information regarding safe and effective exercise speak with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.