It’s the weekend, and I want to talk about working out with sciatica. I have chronic sciatica and have found exercise as a way to manage my pain and get through the day. This is a typical example of what I do from an exercise standpoint on an upper body workout day.
Today started out with a 30-minute walk with my wife. We walk at a pretty quick pace, no lollygagging here, and I really look forward to getting out of the house. This gives us time to catch up on all the things going on in our life. We have 2 very busy teenagers, and we don’t always have time during the week for just the two of us to get caught up.
We try to get out several nights per week and walk, but it doesn’t always happen with our busy schedules. So on the weekend, we have a chance to get out, just the two of us and discuss the week.
It has been unseasonably cold here in the desert, so we actually look forward to getting out of the house when it’s raining as strange as that might sound.
So, a 30-minute brisk walk also helps me to keep the pain away. I cherish the times in my life when I am not dealing with some kind of lower back pain, so I try to be as active as I can in hopes of building and maintaining my body to help combat back pain.
A few hours later I headed to the gym. The nice thing about going to the gym on the weekends is there are fewer people there! Sometimes during the week, it’s next to impossible to get to the gym, mainly because I don’t enjoy battling for the equipment. Then by the time the crowds have somewhat cleared out, it’s about bedtime for me :).
So, I try to get as much work in on the weekends as I can, then do some lighter workouts during the week. So today here’s an example of what I did at the gym on upper body day. You will see a common theme here; I do 5 sets of 20 reps with low weight. This is good for me, and my workout with sciatica I don’t workout heavy anymore.
Working out with sciatica
I typically warm up on an elliptical machine for about 12-20 minutes, depending on the day and my mood. I love working out on an elliptical trainer because this is a great low impact way to break a sweat. An elliptical also allows me to change my posture and focus on my glutes.
- Chest press
Today I worked out on a cable machine and did 5 sets of 20 reps on a chest press machine. Sometimes I work out on cable machines, and sometimes I do free weights, I try to mix it up. It also depends on what is available at the gym. The cable machines give me more control, and I don’t have to worry about being off like with free weights, my form is always good with cable machines.
- Lat pull down
So, I used another cable machine of course, and another 5 sets of 20 reps. Lat pulls work a lot of your back muscles when you do them slowly and correctly. I used to hate this machine because I would always load too much weight and ended up pulling with my arms and biceps more than my back. It took me a long time to get this right.
- Pec flies
I used a cable machine and did another 5 sets of 20 reps. Sometimes I will do these lying on my back on an exercise ball, to add an element of instability.
- Dumbbell Rows
These are the one arm variety of rows. I don’t use a bench because I think that is cheating :). I kind of rapid-fire these off, and I do 20 reps on each side, and again I do 5 sets, so 100 reps total. It’s no joke when you are doing these with proper form, and switching back and forth between left and right. These work my shoulder too, and I think this is a great exercise.
- Shoulder press
I use a kettlebell and hold it upside down, with the base of the kettlebell pointing up. This again adds something different, and it makes the weight off balance, so I have to control the kettlebell as I lift. I do single arm press and then switch off each side. 5 sets of 20 reps, 100 total on each shoulder. This also works my upper back, so it’s a great combo move.
I finished up today with about 6 or 7 minutes on a treadmill at a 20-degree angle. I set the belt speed so that I am walking briskly. It is pretty amazing how the incline really makes me work a lot harder. This method works my calves and my glutes, not to mention getting my heart rate up. I love this way to end my workout.
Conclusion: Working out with sciatica
So, there you have it, my day. I got up and got my exercise done, and then I can go about the rest of my day. Now again, I try to ramp up on the weekends since I have more time to do it. During the week my workouts are somewhat sporadic, and I want to work on doing more. Back pain has plagued me for many years, so I do whatever I can to get a handle on it.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.