8 Sciatica Exercises to Avoid and Why They’re Bad For You

sciatica exercises to avoid

Keeping a physically active lifestyle is one of the secrets to eliminating pain in your life. However, this might be the case if you have sciatica. Notably, some exercises can aggravate the symptoms and impact your ability to move around. Others can even increase your risk for worse injuries that might worsen your condition. That’s why it pays to know what sort of movements you should avoid and how they can potentially affect your sciatic nerve. Keep reading to know the top 8 sciatica exercises to avoid.

#1. Hurdler stretch

Professional athletes in the early days are no stranger to the hurdler stretch. After all, it’s a classic stretching exercise used to warm up the body before a competition. However, physical therapists, coaches, and fitness trainers discourage athletes from using the hurdler stretch because it can potentially harm the spinal column, pelvic bones, and legs. 

#2. Double leg lift

Double leg lifts can help develop the core muscles. However, most people fail to follow the correct form when doing the double leg lift exercise. This results in increased pressure in the lumbar region and a higher risk of aggravating sciatica pain. 

#3. Cycling

Cycling is among the best physical activities in one’s weekly workout routine. It can tone the leg muscles, boost cardiovascular fitness, improve joint health, and strengthen bone tissues when done correctly. However, studies on sciatica note that cycling applies excessive pressure on the back, hips, and buttocks. Additionally, prolonged sitting while cycling around your neighborhood can increase the risk for sciatic nerve compression. 

#4. Supine leg circles

The supine leg circles are common movements done during a Pilates class. It works well as a core-strengthening exercise, and it helps tone the muscle fibers attached to your thighs and legs. Unfortunately, it can easily trigger a nightmarish situation for you if you overstretch your hamstring muscles or rotate your legs at an awkward angle. 

#5. Burpees

Burpees are the go-to CrossFit exercise for anyone who wants to burn calories fast. Conversely, it’s also one of the most well-known sciatica exercises to avoid. According to fitness experts, it can quickly lead to several sciatica-causing problems such as: 

  • Cervical subluxation (neck bone shifting)
  • Neck pain
  • Arm injuries
  • Wrist dislocation
  • Back and hip trauma

#6. High-impact sports

Physical therapists and fitness trainers often warn sciatica patients against doing high-impact physical activities because these can increase the risk for bone dislocations and spinal injuries. So, as much as possible, we suggest refraining from playing or engaging in the following high impact sports until your symptoms improve: 

  • Football
  • Ice hockey
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Snowboarding

#7. Bent-over row

In addition to the exercises listed above, doctors warn sciatica patients against doing weight training exercises like bent-over-row. This exercise can significantly add undue mechanical pressure on the sciatic nerve and make you susceptible to developing a slipped disc. 

#8. Revolved triangle pose

Did you love doing yoga before you got diagnosed with sciatica? Chances are, the revolved triangle pose is one of your go-to yoga positions. It’s an easy yoga pose designed to improve breathing and sharpen your sense of balance. But unfortunately, it can be quite risky if you have sciatica because it can overstretch your leg muscles and further compress your sciatic nerve.

sciatica exercises to avoid






Alternative Exercises for Sciatica Relief

Besides knowing the sciatica exercises to avoid, it’s equally important to learn about your options in keeping a physically active lifestyle. After all, this can help you curb your sciatica symptoms and speed up your body’s ability to heal and recover. Here are some of the best exercises that doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and fitness trainers recommend to sciatica patients: 

  • Sitting pigeon pose
  • Glute bridges
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Sitting spinal stretch
  • Standing piriformis stretch

Be sure to mind your posture while doing these exercises so you can maximize their benefits and minimize the possibility of an injury. On top of that, we strongly suggest resolving one of the common causes of sciatic nerve compression – vertebral subluxation – with the help of upper cervical care.


Going Beyond Understanding the Top Sciatica Exercises To Avoid

Countless patients look for information on sciatica relief each day. Some of them look into the sciatica exercises to avoid. On the one hand, others research the root cause of their crippling sciatica symptoms. Now that you know a bit about the physical activities that might aggravate sciatica, let’s deep dive into its potential causes – the vertebral subluxation.

Simply put, vertebral subluxation means having misaligned spinal bones. Most cases of vertebral subluxation happen because of a previous neck or head injury. For example, the sheer force from a car collision or sports event can overextend the neck bones and shift away from their original positions. Unfortunately, the postural imbalance in the neck affects the rest of the spine and increases the risk for sciatic nerve compression. 

So, besides avoiding the exercises, we listed above and following our suggestions for sciatica relief, we also strongly suggest checking if you need upper cervical chiropractic. It will only take no more than two hours to check the neck bone structure, retrace your medical history and detect signs of cervical subluxation. 

With the help of a trained upper cervical chiropractic doctor, you can potentially eliminate the root cause of your sciatica pain. The neck adjustments can also help you enjoy physical activities that your symptoms prevent you from doing. All you need is to undergo a quick check-up and consultation. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start managing your sciatica and lower back pain with the help of a nearby upper cervical physician.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.