Walking with sciatica is sometimes difficult or painful, or just not possible.
But if you have sciatica, walking is one of the most effective forms of exercise as part of a physical rehabilitation program, and one of the easiest ways to avoid physical inactivity.
Just walking will not be enough to heal sciatica, but it is a big step towards healing, both literally and metaphorically.
If sciatic pain allows it, walking is one of the best things to do while waiting for things to get back to normal.
If walking is difficult, don’t force it and let your doctor know. It is possible that you may not be able to walk because the inflammation is too severe, in which case you can be reassured that it will pass, but it is also possible that the compression of the sciatic nerve is too severe, in which case the situation is delicate and should be taken care of by a specialist doctor: neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon.
The fact that you may not be able to walk because of sciatica is one of the symptoms that the surgeon will take into consideration when suggesting surgery of the narrow lumbar spinal canal.
This surgery is very effective and will quickly relieve the patient, allow him to walk pain free and return to a normal life.
Apart from these cases of aggravated sciatica, which are relatively rare, it is advisable to avoid physical inactivity and especially AVOID SITTING DOWN as much as you can.
Walking: the best physical therapy for sciatica
Walking’s benefits are often underestimated. Walking is an excellent way to improve blood circulation in painful zones of the lower back, buttocks and legs. Walking has a low impact on joints, muscles and bones and is in the vast majority of cases, walking is a relatively comfortable physical activity for the patient suffering from back pain, sciatica, lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease.
Walking brings a certain amount of relief to the painful areas listed above but will not solve the root cause of sciatica.
Walking is not a treatment in itself: whether it is a lumbar disc herniation, a piriformis muscle syndrome or for any other reason, sciatica must be diagnosed and treated appropriately.
Tips for walking with sciatica
- Start gradually, don’t walk too fast, don’t walk too far: it’s a long-term process based on time and repetition and not on the effort you put in.
- Increase your walking distance and duration gradually & smoothly.
- Walk in places where you feel safe (small roads, parks, shopping malls,…)
- Walk on smooth, flat surfaces, avoid pavement or poorly landscaped paths.
- Wear good shoes that support the ankle and have comfortable soles.
- Watch your posture: remember to keep straight at all times.
- Keep your phone handy, just in case…
- Stay hydrated
- Before going for a walk, eat light
- Discuss this with your physiotherapist
To walk properly (with or without sciatica), be careful not to land on the tiptoe, but on the heel instead. Then “unroll” the foot flat on the ground and lean on the entire front part of the foot, not just on the toes.
If you have difficulty walking but your doctor has assured you that there is no problem of concern (narrow lumbar canal), the solution may be the fitness room and treadmill. But beware: it can be tempting to focus on performance rather than endurance and this can not happen. Endurance is the key when walking with sciatica.
Walking or resting? Just use common sense.
Walking is one of the best things to do when you suffer from sciatica and the symptoms of concern are ruled out.
In addition to stay active, walking helps emptying the mind and allows us to see things from a different angle, often a more optimistic one, and this is not insignificant when the problem lasts a long time: healing is also a mental matter.
However, you should avoid walking with sciatica if this is too painful: you should rest and try again later.
Cet article est également disponible en : French