Severe sciatic pain can make exercise seem impossible. But don't despair, these 2 tips may provide enough relief to get you up and keep you moving:

Sciatica symptoms are caused by an underlying lower back disorder. Watch Sciatica Causes and Symptoms Video


1. Use heat therapy prior to exercise

Applying heat therapy for 15 to 20 minutes prior to your exercise routine may significantly reduce your sciatic pain. Heat therapy provides relief in at least 2 ways:

  • Stimulation of sensory receptors in your skin. Applying heat to your lower back can inhibit the transmission of pain signals to your brain through the stimulation of sensory receptors.
  • Stretching of soft tissues. Applying heat to your lower back can decrease stiffness and increase flexibility through the stretching of the muscles around your spine. This may significantly relieve the pressure on your sciatic nerve roots.

See Benefits of Heat Therapy for Lower Back Pain

When applying heat therapy, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  • Heat therapy can burn your skin, so make sure you place a cloth or towel between yourself and the heat source.
  • Heat therapy should be avoided if you have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, or diabetes.
  • Heat therapy should typically be applied to your lower back, which is the location of your sciatic nerve roots.

See How to Apply Heat Therapy

There are numerous options for heat therapy, including a warm bath, a hot water bottle, or a reusable gel pack. Finding the best option for you typically involves a process of trial and error.

Watch: Video: How to Make a Moist Heat Pack

2. Try a low-impact option

Certain types of exercises can jar your spine, which in turn can send sciatica symptoms racing down your large sciatic nerve.

See Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

So you probably can't go for a run or mountain bike, but you may be able to engage in low-impact aerobic exercise. Great low-impact aerobic exercise options include:

If you are new to exercising, make sure to not overexert yourself. You can begin with as little as 5 minutes, and slowly work your way up each day.

See Easy Exercise Program for Low Back Pain Relief

A great benefit of low-impact aerobic exercise is that it can provide long-term relief from your sciatica symptoms. This is because aerobic exercise spurs healing nutrients and oxygen to your lower back, strengthens the muscles around your spine, and increases your flexibility.

See Exercise and Back Pain

As a bonus tip, try cooling down your sciatica symptoms with 15 to 20 minutes of cold therapy after your work out is over.

See Stretching for Back Pain Relief

If your sciatica symptoms continue to interfere with your ability to exercise, make sure to speak with your doctor. She or he may recommend you try water therapy under the guidance of a trained medical professional.

See Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

Learn more:

The Truth About Sciatica

Myths About Sciatica Treatment Options