Is Running Bad for Sciatica Patients in San Francisco?

A woman and a man with sciatica run alongside one another on the shore.

Running is a popular physical activity and one of the healthiest forms of cardio exercise.  Studies show that runners enjoy a higher quality of life and have nearly a 30% decrease in cardiovascular and cancer fatalities. It also doesn’t require a lot of equipment and can be done just about anywhere at any time, which means it’s extremely accessible. 

However, people who have sciatica may wonder if running is bad for sciatica. Sciatica is a condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the leg, which can make it difficult to stay active.

This article explains how running affects people with sciatica and vice versa and also details how working with a chiropractor could be beneficial to anyone dealing with sciatica.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is an inflammation or agitation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the entire body and provides the sensation of feeling to the lower extremities. While most of the symptoms associated with sciatica are experienced in the leg, the source of the issue is actually located in the lower back and pelvis, where the sciatic nerve is rooted.

The sciatic nerve runs through the leg into the foot, with branching nerve pathways throughout its course, which is why you will feel pain and other symptoms along the length of the leg. The lumbar and sacral regions of the vertebrae, where the nerve is rooted, are under some of the most natural amounts of pressure in the body, which makes the sciatic nerve vulnerable to irritation from excess pressure or injury.

 An illustration showing the sciatic nerve
Common Symptoms of Sciatica
  • Burning, shooting, or radiating pain from the lumbar region to the feet
  • Weakness in the feet and legs
  • Numbness in the feet and legsA “pins-and-needles” sensation in the feet and legs
  • General discomfort in the leg
  • Pain when bending over or when standing from a seated position
  • Pain when twisting or rotating the body

Sciatica can range in severity from mild to severe, usually depending on the exact cause of the condition. Acute forms of sciatica will often resolve within a few days or short weeks. However, sciatica can also become a recurring or chronic condition that can flare up and become extremely bothersome.

Sciatica has many possible causes, but some of the most common causes of sciatica are: 

If you haven’t been diagnosed with sciatica but are dealing with any combination of the aforementioned symptoms, you may be dealing with a bout of sciatica.

So, Is Running Bad for Sciatica?

Whether or not running is bad for sciatica will depend largely from person to person and on the context of their sciatica

For example, sciatica can sometimes be caused by the postural issues that come with a leg length inequality. This means that when you are running, you’re placing excess pressure onto one side of the sciatic nerve, which can irritate it.

Another example of how running can be bad for sciatica is if there are gluteal issues that cause the muscles around the sciatic nerve to tighten. This excess tension can also irritate the nerve and cause symptoms to manifest. 

However, some other causes of sciatica, such as inflammation from another medical condition or natural wear and tear, can actually benefit from running. This is because running creates improved blood circulation, reducing inflammation sooner. 

Moreover, people who live sedentary lifestyles or are overweight have an increased likelihood of developing sciatica, which means that healthy recreation such as running can actually prevent the likelihood of sciatica. Running also promotes a stronger core, which can help disperse pressure along the sciatic nerve more evenly. 

If you are a runner with sciatica or believe you may be dealing with a bout of sciatica, these stretches could help make symptoms more manageable.

  • Seated stretch: Begin by sitting in a chair and crossing the afflicted leg over the knee of the opposite leg. Proceed to bend forward with your chest and spine held straight. Bend as far as you can without it being uncomfortable. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  • Figure 4 stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Reach your hands behind your right leg and pull gently towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg. 
  • Knee-to-shoulder: While on your back, with legs extended, bend your afflicted leg and grab around the knee with both hands. Gently pull that leg perpendicular to your torso and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. 

While these stretches can help with acute bouts of sciatica, if your sciatica is recurring, it’s best to listen to your body because there is likely an underlying cause of your sciatica. It may be time to seek professional help for sciatica with a long-term treatment option that will resolve the actual cause of your sciatica and prevent you from being sidetracked. Chiropractic care can provide some of the most beneficial treatments for sciatica. 

PostureWorks Helps Eliminate Sciatica at the Source

If you are having recurring battles with sciatic nerve irritation, you will need to address the root cause of your sciatica to see long-term relief.

That’s why at PostureWorks, we use cutting-edge treatment methods like Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to isolate what is causing your sciatica to eliminate it at the source. With CBP, we analyze your spinal health and posture and reference your entire medical history to get a clear picture of why you have sciatica in the first place. With that knowledge, we create custom, non-invasive treatment plans that are distinctively designed to address your unique needs. 

Not only will your sciatica resolve faster but you won’t have to worry about it returning and preventing you from being healthy and active.

Contact us today to learn more about running with sciatica or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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