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Exercises For Sciatica Are Better Than Bed Rest

Exercises For Sciatica Are Better Than Bed Rest
Exercises For Sciatica Are Better Than Bed Rest

The Right Exercises For Sciatica Depend On The Cause

Accurate diagnosis is necessary before any exercises for sciatica can be prescribed. Remembering sciatica is not a diagnosis in itself but a potential set of signs and symptoms indicating the compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve. Irritation or compression can come from a number of different origins and ascertaining the origin of this irritation is key to the management of sciatica and the use of any exercises for sciatica relief.

The Purpose Of Exercises For Sciatica

Exercises for sciatica will focus on relieving pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet, relieving pain which is associated with compression or irritation to the radicular nerve. How any potential exercises will provide relief to sciatica depends on what you are aiming to achieve with them. If the origins of any sciatica symptoms are coming from a lumbar disc causing compression to the spinal nerve roots it will be managed differently to sciatica of origin from either spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or piriformis syndrome… In most cases exercises for sciatica are more beneficial than bed rest as movement is important for fluid movement within the lumbar discs, strengthening core muscles can help stabilise any unstable segments and contribute to supporting the spine. As well as conditioning and stabilisation of the spine strengthening and stretching exercises for sciatica can be important in the preventing recurrence by restoring muscle and nerve length to their optimal range and prevention of any scar tissue formation.

Bed Rest Is Not The Answer

Pain may make it difficult to do any exercises for sciatica and remain active but typically bed rest is not advocated in most sciatic conditions and if bed rest is necessary it is usually only for a short period, just a couple of days at most. To manage sciatic pain it is crucial you are performing the proper exercises, if strengthening is required and you are only doing stretching exercises or vice versa your results will most likely be disappointing, also certain exercises may not only be ineffective with some causes of sciatica but may actually worsen the condition. This is why it is always important to be properly assessed prior to engaging in any exercises for sciatica unless you have be previously advised otherwise by an appropriate professional.

Exercises For Sciatica Must Be Individually Specific

Tailoring exercises for sciatica around the underlying cause in a specific, controlled and progressive nature makes up a substantial part of sciatica management. Specific goals of exercises for sciatica should focus towards:

  • Reducing sciatic pain and any other associated symptoms of sciatica.
  • Providing the tissue conditioning as well as appropriate neuromuscular education and patterning to help prevent future recurrences of pain.

In situations where the sciatica is chronic and the individual has been without exercise and movement for extended periods of time, back muscles and spinal structures can become de-conditioned and less able to support the back during normal activities of daily living or physical activity. Any de-conditioning and weakening of muscles around the spine can potentially lead to further back injury and strain, causing additional pain. This is also true of any reactive tightening as a result of inactivity giving further reasons why individually specific exercises for sciatica are so important in the rehabilitation of sciatic pain. 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 Exercises For Sciatica 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.