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Sciatica Exercises: More Than Just Hamstring Stretching

Sciatica Exercises: More Than Just Hamstring Stretching
Sciatica Exercises: Not Always Hamstring Stretching

Features Every Sciatica Exercises Program Should Include

Some of the typical features an exercise program for sciatica may include are: Core strengthening and conditioning, stretching, neuromuscular education regarding static and dynamic postures and aerobic conditioning sciatica exercises.

  • Core Strengthening and Conditioning: Exercises for sciatica focused at providing increased support and endurance for the back plays a role in almost all sciatica management at one stage or another.
  • Stretching: Hamstring stretching exercises and the cobra (or prone push up) are commonly prescribed as sciatica exercises. Stretching when the implicated tissues are tight, restricting normal motion or when there is an imbalance within the spine is important. However with certain causes of sciatica some stretching exercises may worsen the symptoms and condition, due to this stretching should only precede with caution and following appropriate professional advice.
  • Neuromuscular Education: The learning and reinforcement of appropriate movement patterns and postures is important in off loading aggravated structures and reducing load and potential recurrences of sciatica. As a result neuromuscular education should be a part of all sciatica exercises routines.
  • Aerobic Conditioning: Depending on the individual and the duration of disability resulting from the individuals sciatica, aerobic conditioning may be required to return to pre-injury level or improve on their pre-injury level of conditioning if this was deemed at be a potential risk factor in the original cause of the sciatica.

Sciatica Exercises Must Be A Part Of Your Daily Routine

Managing and caring for sciatica though sciatica exercises does not necessarily end just because the pain has settled. Addressing all the risk factors which contributed to the onset of the sciatic pain originally takes time and should make up a part of your every day routine. Strength, flexibility as well as aerobic and muscular conditioning gains do not happen over night and risk factors do not go away simply because the pain has subsided.
Prior to embarking on any sciatica exercises program patients should see an appropriate health professional to get the correct diagnosis for their symptoms and set up and action plan based on the cause of any symptoms. Just as this is true, when the same individual is looking at stopping their exercise regime they should equally be assessed to see if they have achieved the goal of reducing any potential risk factors, rather than simply stopping the program because the sciatica has dissipated.
It takes a significant period of time to correct any body imbalances and bad habits that have developed over the years, usually someones weakness, tightness, and poor movement patterns well outlast any sciatic pain. Which is why I see a number of individuals in my clinic requiring treatment after a second or greater episode of  sciatica. Failure to commit to working at obtaining full recovery and addressing any necessary risk factors accordingly through sciatica exercises is one of the greatest predictors of someone suffering future bouts of sciatica.

Tips For Preventing Sciatica

Some key things to consider when trying to minimise the pain associated with and prevent some of the common causes of sciatica are:

  • Avoid prolonged periods of sitting, this includes driving and is especially pertinent when referring to sitting on the sofa.
  • Work on maintaining good posture including all postures, standing, lying, and moving postures but specifically sitting and lifting.
  • Avoid heavy lifting, always get assistance when lifting awkward or heavy objects and take special care to avoid twisting when lifting.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips regarding preventing sciatica and relates more towards one of the main causes of sciatic symptoms being bulging lumbar discs. However in my opinion if more care and attention was taken regarding the above three tips then the number of episodes of not only sciatica but low back pain suffered in Australia each year would dramatically decrease.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on Sciatica Exercises should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner or physiotherapist.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.