Sciatica - What Now ?

Hello,i have been back running for a year almost now and after taking it gradual building up my runs,had entered a half marathon at the start of september. I was up to 12 miles on my long runs,so not to far from the distance,when i developed a sudden acute pain in my leg. This happened 4 days after my last run so it was not a injury directly due to running. Anyhow,after a doctor telling me i had a trapped nerve,and still being in acute pain for 4 days,i was diagnosed as having Sciatica. Prescribed strong painkilers (co-Codomal) and Gabapentin.

After nearly a week still very sore when not dosed with the painkillers. I wondering now is this the end of my running or is there a way back. I suppose the half marathon is out ? Completely gutted as i loved my running.

I am 53, male, ran a lot in my early thirties and started again a year ago.

Thanks for any help in advance.


  • go and see a physio or osteo, rather than just the doc. they should be able to remedy with massage and prescribe exercises.
    I hesitate to suggest anything myself as it depends on what is causing the sciateca but often with runners it is the piriformis pressing on the nerve.
    google 'piriformis stretch' if you want to give it a go but i would encourage you to at least take one visit to a specialist. image

  • I once had sciatica, was pretty severe when it happened (off work for 4 weeks!!).

     As MM said seek out a physio, mine gave me some exercises which helped a lot (as well as some acupuncture, not sure how much that helped...but hey, i recovered!).  

     My understanding of sciatica is that one of your discs in your back is bulging and impinging a nerve. I would imagine most sort of exercise may cause the disc to bulge further causing further issues. Personally I would lay off the running until recovered. Not what you want to hear but I don't see an alternative. Swimming may be an option (less stress on back) to help maintain fitness, but this would certainly need to be discussed with your physio.  

    Good luck with the recovery. 

  • Hi, I started with Sciatica in December after no problems at all doing 2 marathons last year. Currently typing this a week after a back operation for a prolapsed disk. Mine wasn't that bad so carried on running, and it only got worse after physio. I saw loads of people and they all got it wrong, it took a good sports physio to get me on the right path and then I paid for an MRI and sports consultant, the NHS were useless.

    Based on what happened to me, they way I knew it was my back was I went from touching my toes for yoga, to not been able to bend forward to put a shoe on.

    It does seem very common, but I'd pay a bit more and go see a really good sports physio, my original physio missed it back in December. The sports one did a full medical exam and filmed me running, it's important to also understand why it happens. In my case I think its a broken leg, leg length and excessive time at a desk.

    I found walking was great, swiss ball to sit, and try and stand more at work.

  • I've had a few problems with sciatica related to piriformis syndrome and going to physio and then religiously doing the exercises has been my only way to avoid the pain. Each person is different though, would highly recommend seeing a physio to get it properly diagnosed and treated. My last flare up was about 6 weeks-2months ago but with stretches, foam rolling and paying attention to my form/any niggles I've still been able to keep up training for a marathon in September.

    This stretch has made the most difference for me:


  • Thanks for all the answers,amazing !!.   Will now look for a good sports physio. It all makes sense about back pain as i have had this off and on over the years,but never related that to this Sciatica thing.

    feeling better after your answers,will let you know how i get on.

    Just a wee thing about the pain,it is acute when sitting and in bed,but strangely i am on my feet all day and lift fairly heavy objects and it eases off during this period !!!

    Thanks again.

  • I was still running with mine, even did a triathlon in May, but was unable to sit on a chair for more than a few mins. I too suffered for years with a back / weak back and started walking and then running to improve this, which it did massively, until this...

    If it is your disc most will heal on there own with help of physio (about 75%) in about 6-8 weeks I've been told... mine didn't, and although it might still of healed, it could of been years. So I went for the knife...

    try a swiss ball for sitting, and if you lay on your side a cushion between your knees stops you twisting.

    Where in the country are you?

  • Hello, i am 9 mile outside Edinburgh (East Lothian).

  • Okay, I'm north yorkshire... so no good to pass on physio details, there should be some decent ones in Edinburgh you'd like to think.

  • Acupuncture sorted mine out straight away after being out for 4 months and trying physio, stretching etc. and having no joy. I tried to run through it at first but just made it worse, When i had the acupuncture i felt the tightness release straight away which was causing the pain, sometimes you need more than one session but mine went after one. It only cost about £30 so well worth it!

    Good luck

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