Running with sciatica seems to be contradictory but many patients are doing so believing that it could have a good impact in the long run. Well, it is also true that this medical condition can interfere significantly with your running workout. At times, it may give a debilitating feeling. However, if you are a passionate runner, it is essential to find out is running good for sciatica or not.
Can running cause sciatica?
Well, according to most experts, running in the right form without any overdo does not result in sciatica. Rather, this exercise can be an effective kind of treatment if done correctly as well as safely. You should also be able to identify whether the pain is due to excessive running or compressed sciatica nerve.
Whether you will be able to run with the condition is reliant significantly on where the pain is felt and how it is triggered. Sciatica is typically associated with the irritation or inflammation in the spinal nerve of the lower back, which may extend to the legs via the hips.
The muscles affected by running are linked to the sciatica nerve. Thus, the motion of running can aggravate sciatica or make its symptoms worse. However, conversely, running in the right form can alleviate the symptoms.
If sciatica is a symptom of an existing medical condition, you need to follow your doctor’s treatment before exercising. In few cases, if sciatica’s cause is unidentified, light running can be appropriate if it does not trigger or increase pain. Well, it is up to your doctor and you to choose what is suitable for your body.
Running is known to strengthen muscles in the abdomen, legs, and back. Thus, if these muscles are stronger, it can reduce sciatica pain. However, for that, you need to follow some tips.
Running Tips for Sciatica Patients
It is vital to know that the way you run can significantly affect how much bouncing can trigger sciatic pain. Keeping this in mind, here are some vital tips to continue running without triggering or exacerbating sciatica pain:
1. Always start by running to cover a short distance and see whether the pain triggers or worsens
If there is no such experience, you can go a little further. The key is to get started steadily. Generally, pain and discomfort boost with more time as well as distance covered.
2. Avoid landing with force
Doing so will keep compression forces away from your body. For this, just ensure a smoother, less-bouncy heel action.
3. Run with shorter strides to prevent the sciatic nerve from extending completely
This extension, otherwise, itself leads to pain while running. This can alleviate bounce and consequently the impact on the lower spine. Long strides are likely to upset the sciatic nerve by facilitating more bending in the lower back.
4. Avoid running on hard surfaces such as those of concrete or asphalt
You should run on softer surfaces such as those of grass or a soft synthetic material. Hard surfaces tend to trigger compression in your back due to which the symptoms may worsen.
5. Wear the right pair of shoes
Do not run in worn-out or uncomfortable shoes. It is recommended to wear cushioned trainers or shock absorbers so that there is not much pressure on the knees and hips whenever your feet touch the pavement.
6. Never overdo
Running too much or too frequently can infuriate the nerve and exacerbate the pain that sustains for a longer period than before. It is wise to maintain a running log to track activity levels and accordingly plan the running schedule.
7. Always warm up prior to running!
These simple exercises for warming as well as activating the muscles ensure a good flow of the blood around the needy muscles. You can even consider applying a hot pack to loosen the muscles prior to running.
8. Activate your hamstrings by performing stretches such as lunges and high knee lifts.
Tight hamstrings tend to put pressure on the lower back, which can worsen the symptoms of sciatica. This risk is no longer there if hamstrings are stretched, as they contract to defend the compressed sciatic nerve.
So, is running good for sciatica patients? Well, the answer is YES if you know to run such that the sciatica nerve feels as comfortable as possible.
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