Walking can relieve your sciatic pain by spurring the release of pain-fighting endorphins and reducing inflammation. On the other hand, poor walking form may aggravate your sciatica symptoms.
To help improve your form—and avoid sciatic pain—try these 2 walking tips:
Learn more: Techniques for Effective Exercise Walking
1. Shorten your stride to protect your sciatic nerve
Long strides can irritate your sciatic nerve by compressing your lumbar discs.
Follow these pointers to shorten your steps:
- Don’t reach with your toes. Land between your midfoot and heel, then gently roll onto your toes and push off into the next stride. This will naturally shorten your strides because it’s difficult to roll your foot when it’s far from your body.
- Slow down. A slower pace typically means shorter steps. You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation while walking.
2. Engage your core muscles to support your spine
Actively engaging your abdominal muscles protects your sciatic nerve roots by minimizing pressure on your spine.
Here’s how to use your abdominal muscles:
- Stand upright. Keep your head and shoulders tall and focus on a spot in the distance.
- Suck in your stomach. Pull your stomach slightly toward your body for the duration of your walk. Take deep breaths and keep a comfortable pace, otherwise you’ll find it challenging to engage your abdominal muscles for your entire walk.
If walking isn't for you, try one of these low-impact aerobic exercise options: