Have only been running a couple of months, had a two week holiday during which I seem to have sciatica. Thought it would disappear but evidentally not. Arrived home yesterday, tried to run today and finally managed at a very slow pace but not without a wince or two along the way (only managed about 10 minutes in all). Have an osteopath appointment on Monday but want to know if I still run (with a wince) am I doing more damage than good? Any advice would be greatly appreciated cos I don't want to stop now I've finally started. Thanks.


  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    If you do a search on sciatica you'll find some recent threads. Put briefly, in my experience it's to do with posture and biomechanics and a good sports physio should be able to advise. In my case, I was able to run through it. Hope this helps.
  • Thanks Muttley. I'll check out the other threads.
  • Claire, I get sciatica type pain sometimes also. It is noticeably worse if my abs are weak - I go through phases when I'm very good about doing crunches, but then I lapse, and then the back pain comes back again. I think you're right to get it checked out though.
  • Claire, I've had sciatica so my sympathies to you. Running per se won't necesarily make it worse but here are a few tips.

    Get your gait and foot strike analysed to you run more biomechanically efficient

    Make sure you don't wear shoes that are worn out. Rotating 2 - 3 pairs helps.

    Avoid severe cambers on roads and alternate between going clockwise and anticlockwise on circular routes.

    Try to run off road wherever possible but with reasonable terrain e.g tracks and grass.

    Avoid hills as much as possible or walk if not.

    Only run what you can..I could only run for 10 minutes before packing in and walking home!

    Strengthen your abs as Jo suggests..a strong abdomen supports the spine.

    and as my specialist said, eventually the water will come out of the damaged disc and shrink it back into place. So your sciatica will eventually fade.

    Good Luck!
  • hello claire
    i am also a beginner who has suffered from sciatica. I have read up a bit and apparently it is caused by having legs of differing length (mmhh) or having tight hamstrings.
    As i have aso suffered from a tight hamstring in my left leg i have been focusing more on my streching and it is a lot better.
    As for running with it, i visited my doctor (also a runner) who said it was ok, it loosens the muscles off and is actually a good thing (after you get over the initial stiffness)
  • Thank you all so much for your help. I'm always surprised that anyone answers any questions that I have! It seems to have loosened off for the time being so I think I should concentrate on getting the abs strong (easier said than done!) whilst I'm feeling fit(er). Am having a bit of trouble with motivation but another thread is sorting that out!!
  • I think sciatica can also be caused by having a tight piriformis muscle - that basically runs right over the sciatic nerve and can trigger it that way. Piriformis stretch is the one where you cross one leg onto the opposite knee and pull both legs towards your head (lay on your back or you'll fall over!!). Alternatively sitting down - put one foot square onto the floor, cross the opposite foot onto the knee and lean forward to get what seems like a similar effect.

    BTW, as well as doing crunches, I've always been told that you need to strengthen the back muscles as well to keep the opposing muscles to the abs balanced with them.
  • Iain - I'll give the stretches a go. Strenghtening both sets of muscles seems to make sense. Thanks for the advice.
  • Hi Claire, have only just read your message. I had sciatica for 18 months and it was hell. I went to a chiropractor and after intense treatment of three visits per week for six weeks it finally went. I regularly go now once a month just to keep my body in check and have had no further problem. I would recommend it to anyone. I have managed the Nike 10K and have just entered for the FL half marathon. I hope your problem has resolved itself. Take care.
  • I was admitted to hospital with a bad attack of sciatica, the pain was so bad that a dose of pethidine didn't touch it. I saw my doctor who recommended reading "treat your own back by Robin Mackenzie". I followed these exercises for 3 weeks until I saw a physio. By this stage I hsd started running 3 x 3 miles a week. The physio left me following the book with some extra exercises to stretch the nerve and told me to carry on running as it was making my back easier. This was nearly 4 years ago now and I've had no further problems, I still use the exercises in the book just to keep my back muscles in shape. I think the book has been reprinted and is still available, it was under a tenner then.
  • Hi Clare
    Unfortunatly Sciatica is very common amongest runners of all levels, I and several of my friends have suffered with it.Luckly (touch wood)I have been free of sciatica for about 4 years. One the reasons runners and other sportsmen suffer is that we strech our muscles, but negelct our back muscles. It is the back muscles pressing on the sciatic nerve that gives you the pain. So simple streching of the back will prevent an attack of sciatica.
  • Acupuncture can be very effective at relieving certainly helped me and has never been as bad after I had it treated even though I'm running more.
  • Hi

    I suffered a slipped disc earlier this year and still have problems with the sciatic nerve causing pain in my leg and foot. My doctor told me I should just walk and not run. Can I start running again or should I just keep up the walking? Advice would be appreciated.

  • Hi Mary I prolapsed (slipped) my L5 disk 18 months ago I had pain right down my sciatic nerve and a numb sensation in my toes I would recommend seeing a chiropractor and doing some back exercises swimming is agood back exercise. I did a lot of walking and swimming and I have just started to do some jogging again. Try doing some walking then jogging for 1 minute and so on until you feel you can jog more than walk.
    Good Luck
  • Hi Pepe

    Thanks for advice. Helps to know that there is hope. Although the doctor says I am doing well it sometimes feels very slow and as though I should be doing more. 'Patience' as the doctor says seems to be the key word.

    Thanks again

  • Hi,

    I have been a long term sciatica sufferer, here are a few tips that I have based on my experience, I am now pain free(touch wood).

    Firstly, I would recommend seeing a sports physiotherapist before going to see a chirporactor. After my experience, I will never see a chiropractor again. Dynamic, high impact movement on joints is not good for people with prolapsed disks!

    My physio diagnosed the problem, asked me to focus on strengthening the core stability muscles (abs and back muscles) and also stretching.

    I had a prolapsed disk which took time to heal but once that was cured I had sciatic pain caused by "tethering."

    My physio recommended "Dr Ali's Back Book." I cannot recommend this publication enough, it saved me from an operation and the principles work. I had seen two doctors and a chiropractor(who made the situation worse). They both said I would need an operation. Well having read the above book and followed it's advice i can tell you I am pain free without any operation....

    Do not focus on jsut your abs....stretching and stengthening of the lower back muscles are just as important.

    In the end, my nerve finally realeased and has not come back.

    Best of Luck...

  • Hi Stewart thanks for that
    My experience was the opposite I have seen oestopaths physiotherapists and finally a chiropractor (the fisrt 2 seemed to make it worse for me)I have ordered Dr Alis Back book today from Amazon and will give it a try.

    What sports are you able to do now?

  • Hi Pepe,

    It's funny how some things work for some and not others :o)

    The thought of having an operation is really what drove me to finding out as much information as possible. What I liked about this book is the way it explains how the back works, what can go wrong and how to remedy it.

    All I know for sure is that I had an operation booked but followed the advice of my Physio and followed the principals in the book and I haven't needed an op and there is no sport I can't do.

    Occasionally I feel a twinge but that serves as a reminder to do my exercises!

    Best of luck with Pepe, hop it works out for you.


  • Keep stretching. I've heard yoga is a good way of avoiding the problem in future. I started to get mine after a 20 mile run 4 weeks ago. Finding that cycling and stretching is sorting it out bit by bit but it's worse evey morning after periods of inactivity.

    Was supposed to be running the marathon on Sunday. Absolutley gutted. Death to sciatica.

    How long did people suffer the worst symptoms for?


  • WaboWabo ✭✭✭
    been suffering since flm, not run for 2 weeks, although I did try thurs! Am now going to try a gentle jog tomorrow. I have been told to stretch, my cause is tight glutes pressing on the nerve. When I run thurs thepain I got was in the lower leg, inside calf area! Now I think that may be a shoe problem so I will change shoes and see!
    possunt quia posse videntur - we can because we know we can 
  • Can anyone tell me if it is ok to swim and cycle with sciatica. Only just developed it in last week but also have tried gentle jog on beach but dont know if this will make it worse. Seemed to run through it and pain eased off but next day pain was worse. Keen runner and trying to find something just as aerobic if runing not an option. Any suggestions?
  • Yeah - swimming is especially good for it apparently as it stretches the back out - don't run! Not sure about the cycling but it hasn't caused me any problems.
  • struggling to get a diagnosis for pain in right buttock and right calf . 3 different physios and a chiropracter say different things but basically they don't know whats wrong. I've suggested to them that I thought it could be my piriformis or sacroilliac but they've been very none commital!!! The problem seemed to come on after I fell over and had bad bruise on my right buttock but I carried on running 25 ish miles a week. Running seems to ease it. I've tried some Mckenzie back exercises,piriformis stretching ,hamstring stretching,gluteal stretching.,abdominal stengthening  etc.Don't know what todo. Have not run much lately but need to start upping mileage next week(its my job).Will crunches ,back strengthening exercises,ham string ,quad , glute etc stretches help or exacerbate the problem? if I run and pain is no worse is it ok to carry on? I'm going to doctors tomorrow to ask to see a specialist. What does anybody kow about this? Please help getting me down-I need to run!!
  • I've had hamstring pain for about three months now while running and pain while driving which really gnaws away sometimes, specially after races.  I've noticed that my right foot is really weak and seems to flop around on the end of my leg instead of doing any proper work, so the left side is providing most of the power.  I've carried on running but struggling a bit for pace at the moment.  Hoping that physio can help out, the osteopath I saw today suggested complete rest though, which is not at all what I want to be doing.

    I can jog ok (8 min miles or so) but racing causes quite a lot of pain the next day.  I've order the recommended back books and will even try some stretching and core-strength exercises.

  • Dr Bob,

    I can sympathise. I've had sciatica since last Tuesday and although I've used a TENS machine as well as  stretch and massage the pain into submission (almost), my right foot feels as though it's flopping around because it has pins and needles all the time. I've noticed though that because of this my foot isn't touching the floor as it should. It feels as though its turning in more than it should. I don't know if you've noticed that but if yours is the same it could be that running is putting extra strain on another part of the leg. Hmm not sure. I've not run since last week but am going swimming tonight. If it does any good I might run on Wednesday.

  • SuperCazSuperCaz ✭✭✭

    I've not read back through all of the posts, so appologies if I repeat what others have said.

    My sciatica was caused by too much sitting down coupled with muscle imbalances in my core / back area.  Running didn't do it any harm, except that sometimes it was too painful to run.

    The cure for me was to adjust the seat of my car back a notch, so that my thighs were fully supported by the seat (or put a towel under the thighs), and to reassess how I sat at my desk at work.  I now try to keep up a habit of doing back and core strengthing exercises to stop it from coming back.

    It sounds to me as if sitting on the plane coming how from holidy is probably what set this bout off - or at least that is what would have done it for me.

  • i have been sufferring with sciatica for a couple of yrs now due to working in a warehouse environment and beeing fairly tall being 6'5" was told my back would suffer as i get older i was a regular runner having completing VLM 4 times and want to get back into it  but i am not sure if i will do more harm than good


  • Hi I have had sciatica for 2 weeks now haven't stopped running but is really painful when only walking about 1 00 yds. .anyone with similar symptoms .not seen anyone yet cheers 
  • > @"Eric Brann" said:
    > Hi I have had sciatica for 2 weeks now haven't stopped running but is really painful when only walking about 1 00 yds. .anyone with similar symptoms .not seen anyone yet cheers 

    Hi, Eric sorry to hear about what you're going through but its best to do frequent stretches before going for a walk or a run and if the pain does persist then I would recommend getting someone to massage your back before and after you decide to go out and do any physical activity.

    Hope this has been of any help.
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