Sciatica is a term known for the irradiating pain in your lower back region because of the sciatic nerve’s compression, irritation, or inflammation. In spite of the fact that exercises are recommended for easing it, not all of them are considered effective, and some may even exacerbate the pain. So, how would you know which sciatica exercises to avoid? 

Sciatica exercises to avoid are those that tighten the lumbar region and cause pain. Doing this may limit some of your movements, and staying active is your best option to improve the pain.

This article specifically deals with the exercises that can aggravate sciatica by affecting the its nerve and highlights why these sciatica exercises to avoid. But before that, let’s briefly discuss its symptoms and causes.

Which Sciatica Exercises to Avoid?

exercises to avoid in sciatica

When certain exercises strain your back or leg, you should either avoid them or take a break, since muscle tightening due to improper posture can affect your sciatic nerve, which contributes to the length of time sciatica lasts.

Here are some sciatica exercises to avoid:

1. Bent-Over Row

This exercise requires weight lifting and strengthening the arms and back muscles. It requires improper form while weight lifting, which can cause inflammation or an injury to the sciatic nerve. Such exercises can cause disk problems that can aggravate the situation. 

2. Circling of Leg

This exercise stretches your hamstring by swinging your leg in a full circle while laying down on the ground on your back. The sciatic nerve, unlike leg muscles, doesn’t like stretching.

3. Standing or Seated Hamstring Stretch

A hamstring stretch is done by touching your toes while sitting or standing over the straight leg. It is also called a hurdle stretch; this stretch involves bending the waist to stretch the hamstring, which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

4. Forward Bends While Sitting and Standing

This movement also requires bending of the waist to touch the toes or the floor. Forward bending can cause tightness and irritates the sciatic nerve by putting stress on the lower back. Exercises like Pilates and yoga may have forward bends.

5. Double Leg Lift

The lifting and lowering of both legs simultaneously in the supine position can strengthen leg and abdomen muscles. The abdominal muscles are weak and cannot take the strain on their own; the lower back bears the weight of your legs. This unwanted stress can lead to sciatica pain [2].

6. High-Impact Sports

Sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball should be avoided while suffering from sciatica. These high-impact activities can put stress on your body.

7. Cycling

Cycling or biking is a great exercise, but this activity is not for you if you have a sciatic problem. Cycling with forward-leaning towards handlebars can pull the nerves.

8. Heavy Squatting

This exercise falls under weight-lifting; taking weights on your shoulders and carrying yourself from squatting to standing. Heavy squatting aggravates sciatica symptoms by exerting strain on your lower back.

9. Burpees

This exercise involves repetitive movements from the push-up position to a star jump, then back to the push-up position. These high-impact movements can place stress on the back.

10. Running

It is recommended not to run with sciatica. Running can injure the spine by putting an exceptional amount of stress on your lower back. However, make sure you have proper ergonomic shoes that relieve your back pain.

What Exercises you Should Do with Sciatica?

There are myriad forms of stretches and exercises that help relieve sciatica pain. These exercises soft tissues in the lower back, improve your nervous system and make the muscles surrounding the spine more flexible.

Take it slow – start with low-impact and straightforward exercises for a shorter duration. Give your body some time to adjust. Also, it is essential to do some activity regularly. 

Proper postures while sitting or exercising helps you to avoid possible injury. Stretch according to your body, don’t push yourself. Also, focus on the exercises that strengthen the core, back, and leg muscles.

RELATED: What are the Recommended Sciatica Stretches for Pain Relief?


Should I rest completely with sciatica?

Exercise is more of a help than bed rest. It is crucial to maintain daily physical activity.  

Are sit-ups helpful in sciatica?

No, sit-ups place stress on the lower back and aggravate sciatica pain.

Can a walk cause sciatica?

The sciatic nerve can be affected by wrong walking patterns when you maintain a bad posture as you walk.

What kind of Chair is Best for Sciatica?

Ergonomics or recliner chairs are considered best to treat sciatic pain.


It is essential to understand which sciatica exercises to avoid. Stop any exercise or stretch that exacerbates pain: it should be your rule of thumb. The purpose of these exercises is to alleviate pain, so focus on those exercises that curb the sciatica pain.

Along with these exercises, you must have a healthy diet, bearable levels of stress, and a good sleep-wake cycle.  You can also opt few treatment procedures like acupuncture, lumbar braces, massage, and heat therapy.  

👉 Note: Talk to your doctor and take inputs before working on any exercise plan.