Sciatica can really mess with your running routine. At times it can feel as if you’ll never be able to run again, but if you’re a keen jogger you can take some simple steps to enable you to keep pounding the pavements.
Sciatica causes pain in the lower back which can spread to the buttock or hip and down the back of your legs. The motion of running can make symptoms of sciatica worse, but exercise has benefits which could also ease the pain.
Running can help us lose weight, relax muscles and strengthen back and abdominal muscles. This can help alleviate the pain of sciatica and there other ways by which you can reduce the risk of jogging irritating the sciatic nerve.
Tips to keep you running
The way you run can have a big impact on how much the “bouncing” action contributes to sciatic pain. It’s best to try running for a short distance at first to ascertain if the pain gets worse. If it doesn’t, you can go a little further and a little faster. It can be frustrating to build back up to your normal pace and distance at first, but it is well worth taking it steady.
It can also help to reduce your stride length when running. Long strides can irritate the sciatic nerve by compressing the lumbar discs in the lower back. Running in worn-out shoes won’t help either. Opt for a pair of cushioned trainers which will reduce the pressure on your hips and knees each time your foot hits the pavement.
It’s always important to stretch and warm up properly before you head out and running on grass or soft ground can also help. A hot pack will help loosen up the muscles before you begin and remember to stay hydrated – our bodies need water after all.
You’re not alone. There have been lots of famous athletes who have suffered from back pain. Six-time Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt cited lower back pain as a factor holding him back from breaking his own 200-metre world record at the 2012 Olympics. Bolt even stopped training for a time in 2010 but still went on to win three gold medals in London two years later.