Is Walking on a Treadmill Good for Sciatica?

According to a certain study, walking can decrease the risk of sciatica pain. Besides, it offers better results in dealing with sciatica pain than spinal surgery. This is because walking can reduce inflammation and trigger the release of endorphins. This helps to alleviate sciatic pain and other back problems. But, one may still wonder; will this apply to every form of walking? Or is walking on a treadmill good for sciatica? 

Well, those are some the things I’ll be addressing here. First, do you even know what sciatic is? Let’s start from then! 

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What’s Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to the irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts at the spine, then travels through the glutes and hips toward the feet. It’s the widest, not to forget, the longest nerve in the body. It starts with 5 nerves on the lower back that come together to form a single nerve. The nerve then runs through your buttocks and heads down the leg. 

That said, sciatica  is a certain type of buttock pain radiating down your leg. This may cause you to feel tingling, numbness, and pain through your legs and hips. A research on sciatica involving 650 individuals was conducted and published in the Orthopedics journal. According to the report, 25% of the participants experienced sciatica within 6 months. 

This demonstrates that sciatic is very common. Havard Health suggests that 40% of the population will experience it at some point. 

Causes of Sciatica

Various factors can cause sciatica/ lumbar radiculopathy. The main causes of sciatic pain include; spinal stenosis as well as herniated/ bulging discs. Osteoarthritis and disc generation can make the spine exert pressure on the nerve. 

Compression or repetitive stress injury can also damage the sciatic nerve. There are also other risk factors like an increase in weight/ height and a spinal fracture. 

Symptoms of Sciatic

The first thing you need to know about sciatic pain is that it affects only 1 side of the body. More importantly, it results in a sharp back and buttock pain moving down your leg. Some people may even experience lower back pain or find it difficult to move the affected foot.

There are other signs linked to sciatica as well. They include; 

  • Limb weakness 
  • Radiating/ burning pain 
  • Tingling and numbness in severities
  • Increasing pain when you sit down for long 
  • Lower body stiffness 
  • Hip pain

In serious conditions, one may even lose bladder as well as bowel control. In this case, I’d recommend you look for emergency medical care. 

In most cases, sciatic pain is intense. For this reason, most patients assume that they’ve got a very serious condition. Yet about 75% of the affected individuals take a few weeks to improve. Besides, the condition is usually caused by some minor spine abnormalities. That’s why doctors rarely depend on imaging tests to identify sciatica. 

Instead, they recommend some exercise and self-care instructions. Also, other measures like less sitting and more movement help to relieve the pain. Similarly, walking on a treadmill is an effective approach to relieving sciatica pain. 

Is Walking Good for Sciatica?

An article on Spine-Health claims that any type of walking is good for relieving sciatica pain. Besides, walking is one of the best exercises for improving the pain in the sciatic nerve. Exercising decreases inflammation and triggers endorphins release. 

However, walking outdoors can be dangerous, especially when it’s rainy or slippery. That’s where a treadmill comes in! First, a treadmill allows you to be consistent for a certain period. You can even set your walking pace on a treadmill. 

For that, it’s one of the best low-impact aerobic workouts you can try. This simply means that your heartbeats will increase. You may even sweat, but you can still have a conversation as you work out. To be precise, you can walk on walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes at 3% incline and 3 mph. This is an excellent exercise for your sciatic pain. 

Another benefit of using treadmills is they increase circulation and enhance joint movement. Increased circulation helps in the healing and repair process. Also, it has a good psychological effect. This will help you to overcome the depression associated with sciatic and neck pain. Walking will also ensure proper chemical and mechanical movement of the discs. 

How to Walk on With Sciatica Pain ?

When walking on a treadmill, make sure you choose a comfortable incline and speed. Initially, these parameters can be lower than your normal walking pace. Then increase the intensity and pace with time as the nerve pain decreases. 

In general, walking on a treadmill is usually safe with sciatica. However, it can increase pressure on the internal discs, making them bulge even more. In other words, walking may exert more pressure on the sciatica nerve roots, causing more pain. If that’s the case you should avoid walking as a sciatica relief exercise. 

As an extra measure, there are some treadmill mistakes you should avoid when you’ve sciatic pain. These measures will help you to avoid irritating your sciatica nerve further. They include; using your core and a shorter stride. 

1. Take shorter strides 

Taking longer strides when walking exerts more stretch on the back of your leg and lower back. This can increases stress on the sciatic nerve. For this reason, it’s good to take shorter steps and walk slower on a treadmill if you’re experiencing sciatic pain. 

Moreover, you need to consider the initial contact of your foot and walking posture. Incorrect walking posture may compress the lumbar discs, thus irritating your sciatic nerve. However, using the correct walking posture will prevent stress on your spine. That’s because your back, core abdominal, leg, thigh, and hip muscles will be working in sync. 

As for the initial foot contact, avoid reaching with your toes when walking on the treadmill. Instead, you should land between the heel and the mid-foot. Then roll onto the toes gently and take the next stride. As a result, your strides will be shorter since rolling your foot becomes easier. 

2. Support your spine with the core muscles

Using your abdominal muscles correctly can help you relieve sciatica. They accomplish this by reducing pressure on the spine. This aids in protecting the sciatic nerve. However, walking incorrectly will increase stress and fatigue on these muscles. This may aggravate your sciatic pain or even cause more back pain. To avoid this, do the following when walking on a workout machine like Sole Fitness F85 treadmill

  • Slightly pull the stomach towards the body while walking. Don’t tuck in your stomach too hard to avoid staining your abdominal muscles. 
  • Stand upright.
  • Maintain rhythmic breathing and stay focused while walking 

Activities to Avoid With Sciatic Pain!

Although walking is good for relieving your sciatic pain, running is not! This is because running is a high-impact workout exercise. So, it will exert more pressure on the spinal cord. This can intensify your sciatic symptoms and injury. 

Don’t get me wrong though! I’m not saying that running causes sciatica. However, running with sciatica may aggravate your sciatic nerve. Besides, running uses areas that are impacted by sciatica. This includes; muscles in the feet, legs, and back. 

FAQs

1. How do I cure sciatic pain permanently? 

In most cases, sciatica cause severe pain on 1 side of the body. You can relieve this pain through massage/ chiropractic treatments and physical therapy. You can also apply ice or heat packs. 

2. Sciatic nerve is on which side of your body? Left or right? 

5 nerve roots join together to form a left and right sciatic nerve. Each nerve runs through the buttocks, hips, and down the left. It ends just below your knee, branches into other nerves, and continues into your toes and foot. 

3. Can walking help you to get rid of sciatic pain? 

Walking is one of the best exercises for sciatic pain. It reduces inflammation and triggers the release of endorphins. This helps to fight pain. However, poor walking posture can aggravate sciatic nerve pain. 

4. Is rest good for sciatica? 

Bed rest and staying inactive may make the pain worse. Not to forget that they will delay your recovery. Instead, you should exercise and continue with your daily activities. However, avoid activities that may worsen the pain like running.

Conclusion

Hopefully, I've answered your question; is walking on a treadmill good for sciatica? In general, various exercises will help you relieve sciatic pain. And treadmill walking is one of them! So, a treadmill can be an important part of your sciatic recovery and workout program. However, always seek advice from your doctor before you start working out with sciatica. 

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