Top Tips to Safely Exercise With Sciatica

Top Tips to Safely Exercise With Sciatica

Top Tips to Safely Exercise With Sciatica 1280 853 Msk Therapy

In any given circumstance, exercise (especially for beginners) can be challenging. Of course, getting through a basic workout routine can be a real uphill battle for anyone who is suffering from sciatica. In fact, for most of them, it seems impossible to do any physical activity, let alone exercise. 

Fortunately, if you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain, there are a few things you can do to prepare your lower back for exercise, and ease into the activity so that you are able to benefit from it as opposed to unintentionally worsening your condition. This is, perhaps, the most important part about exercising with sciatica because many uninformed individuals push through the pain when working out, assuming that it is the only way. This often leads to otherwise preventable injuries and more pain down the line.

Well, MSK Therapy is here to tell you that exercise needn’t be off the table when you have sciatica. In fact, it can help improve your condition if you go about your workout the correct way. Today, we are sharing three very important tips to safely exercise with sciatica. Read on.

#1 Use Heat Therapy

Hot/cold therapy is often used to relieve pain in the body, as well as to aid in recovery after intense workouts. In this case, heat therapy applied to the (rear) pelvis region will help a patient of sciatica in various ways that allow for a safer and more comfortable exercise session. This should be done for about 15 – 20 minutes before each workout. 

The benefits of heat therapy prior to exercising with sciatica include:


  • Soft Tissue Stimulation: Stretching and stimulating the muscles in the lower back with heat helps to increase range of motion and flexibility. This makes it easier and less painful to perform physical activities. Heat also reduces stiffness which can affect your form and performance when exercising. 
  • Improved Blood Flow: In order to improve the blood flow to your muscles, heat therapy is used to dilate blood vessels in soft tissue. This, in turn, helps to facilitate the movement of healing nutrients, oxygen, and blood to the lumbar region.


To apply heat to your lower back, some of the best options include hot water bottles, warm baths, and heated gel packs. 

WARNING: Hot water bottles and gel packs should always be wrapped in a towel and then applied to the skin to prevent burns. Furthermore, if/when the heat becomes too much, you should take a break for a minute or so before continuing the therapy. 

#2 Start Slow

Even if you don’t have sciatica and are simply exercising for the first time, you must start slow, and with low impact activities to prevent injuries. Similarly, the amount of time you spend exercising at the beginning of your fitness journey must also be minimal. For sciatica patients, 5 – 10 minutes per day is advisable. This can be spent doing just one activity before eventually increasing the number of exercises and time per activity. 

Some low impact exercises you can do include the following activities:

  • Walks on the beach
  • Riding an elliptical or stationary bike on a low resistance
  • Walking on a treadmill
  • Water therapy exercises such as walking in a swimming pool
  • Gentle leg raises while lying flat on your back

There are many other sciatica exercises one can do to relieve and prevent pain by strengthening the lower back and core muscles. 

NOTE: You should avoid exercises and physical activities that jerk your lumbar spine as this will cause more painful sciatica symptoms.

#3 Focus on Form

Improper form is one of the most common causes of injury while exercising. Unfortunately, it is often disregarded or subconsciously overlooked by individuals who are new to exercising with or without equipment. It is therefore advisable to do thorough research on the exercises you plan to perform, or simply train with a certified professional to ensure that your form is on point.

A few ways to improve your form when exercising with sciatica is to be mindful of your body with each movement you make. Pay close attention to how you feel, any pain experienced, and if there is any unnecessary strain placed on your lower back as you perform an exercise. Everything from breathing to your posture must be in tune in order to improve your overall form. 

Of course, there may be some level of pain or discomfort when exercising for the first time, however, it is best to speak with a professional trainer to understand if the pain you are experiencing is normal. It should also be noted that muscle soreness for the first few days is expected when performing new physical activities. 


The best treatment for sciatica is to exercise regularly as this will aid in strengthening your lower back muscles, improve spinal health, and relieve tension placed on the sciatic nerve roots. When you are consistent with performing sciatic exercises, it will help prevent related symptoms in the long run while improving your current condition. The most important factor in all of this is to ensure that you are exercising the correct way to yield the best results and avoid worsening your sciatica symptoms.

For more guidance and alternative treatments for sciatic nerve pain, make an appointment at MSK Therapy to have your condition evaluated by a trained and experienced chiropractor. We are a team of dedicated experts in our respective fields, and offer various services to successfully diagnose and treat sciatica by finding the root cause(s) of symptoms. Contact us today for a thorough assessment and subsequent course of treatment.