What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a medical term that is used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve. Sciatica pain begins in the lower back and travels down to your leg.
If you suffer from sciatica, common symptoms are numbness in the back of the leg, shooting or burning pain that can run down your leg all the way to your feet and can have a lot of negative or uncomfortable effects on your posture, especially when sitting down.
Can You Run With Sciatica?
In short, you can run with sciatica, but you’re going to have to change your routine up a bit. Your sciatica will play a part in when you can run and how much you can run and you have to listen to your body to know when it’s safe to run.
It is very important that you speak with your doctor about your sciatica and ask for any advice as to when running is going to be ok.
Sciatica is a manageable condition, but you definitely need to make sure you don’t overwork yourself when you’re experiencing sciatica pain.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can lessen the pain of sciatica and things you can do to still allow yourself to be able to run.
Tips For Running With Sciatica
We’ve put together a little list of things you can do that will help you to still enjoy running, but without aggravating your sciatica. So let’s have a look at them.
Stretch & Warm Up
One of the best things you can do if you’re suffering from sciatica but you want to run is to stretch. Put together a good warm-up routine and stick to it. Make sure you do this warm-up routine every single time you plan on running.
When it comes to stretching, you specifically want to stretch and work on your hamstrings. Your hamstrings are the best safeguard in your body for your sciatic nerve. Some of the best stretches you can do include high knee lunges and high knee lifts.
If you don’t warm up and stretch your hamstrings before you run, this can make your sciatica worse, so just be mindful to stretch and warm them up beforehand.
Don’t Overdo Your Training
When you have sciatica and you want to run, you really need to make sure that you don’t overdo your training. This can be said for anyone who runs though!
It’s fine to want to push your limits, but what’s not fine is trying to do more than your body is actually capable of doing. It can lead to serious injury or in this case, really bad sciatica pain.
Developing sciatica will probably mean that you’ll need to change your running schedule a bit.
Running too frequently can really upset the sciatic nerve and cause you even more pain and discomfort. Just listen to your body and cut the frequency of your runs down a bit to compensate for this.
Wear The Right Shoes
It might surprise you to know how much of an impact the right shoes can have on your health and running ability. Lots of people may look at running shoes and not really understand what makes them so different, but they are quite literally designed for running!
Standard sneakers and shoes are not designed to deal with the same things that running shoes deal with, and if you have sciatica, the right pair of shoes is incredibly important.
When you’re looking for the right running shoes, you specifically want to find a pair that are heavy on the “shock absorber” feature.
This feature is usually put in the shoe description on an online store, but if you’re going to a physical store, you can the staff for shoes with this specific feature and they will be able to show you the appropriate shoes.
Change Up Your Running Stride
The main thing that causes you pain when you’re running with sciatica is the full extension of your sciatic nerve.
To prevent this from happening when you’re running, the best thing you can do is change up your running stride. Your overall running stride should be shorter rather than longer.
It might take you a little while to nail this new way of running, but once you have it down, you’ll be so thankful for it. Shorter strides mean that you can run for longer and you’re less likely to get sciatica pain. It can still happen, but this should reduce the risk considerably.
Keep Motivated And Inspired
It is really important that you keep motivated and inspired if you develop sciatica. Lots of people just assume that once you develop it, that means that you can’t run properly again, but we promise you that this isn’t the case at all.
There will be days when you won’t be able to run, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop completely. All this means is that you have to pace yourself and listen to your body. Allow yourself to have more rest days and when you feel a bit better, get out and run again.
Lots of people with lower back pain and sciatica have gone on to be very successful runners.
One of the most successful people who has suffered from intense back pain is Usain Bolt, and he is one of the most successful and fastest runners of all time.
He even had to stop training completely for a while in 2010, but two years later, he ended up winning three gold medals in London.
Take inspiration from that and know that if you enjoy running, even with sciatica or back pain, you can still do it.
It can be really stressful developing a health condition that directly impacts something you love. Running is a great way to get exercise and reduce your stress, and even if you have sciatica, you can still enjoy this activity.
Just pace yourself and know your limits!