Dealing with running with Sciatic, hip, and lower back pain

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SCIATIC NERVE- The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, down your buttock along the back or side of your leg down into your foot. Pain or numbness occurs when the nerve is irritated or compressed

Hip and back conditions are often interrelated, and there’s often a nasty domino effect of injuries. For example, tense lower-back muscles can contribute to piriformis syndrome which in turn can cause inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It can be a painful experience. Often, these injuries in the hip or buttock tend to cascade from lower-back strain or injury.  I see this happen very often with runners, Alpha and myself being guilty of it. But there are solutions and ways around the pain without it effecting your running, as long as you can keep the pain from developing. Hopefully you can find some of my tips useful.

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SOME SYMPTOMS- dull achy or tight pain in the lower back.

                                               Sciatica – Sharp,burning sensation that starts in your back or buttocks and runs down your leg.

CAUSES: 

  • flat feet and over-pronation
  • irregular biomechanics or imbalance
  • uneven pelvis, or one leg slightly shorter than the other (I have both these issues)
  • curved spine, Scoliosis (that’s me!! I have SEVERE Scoliosis)
  • tight glutes, hamstrings
  • lack of core strength, weak, lack of flexibility in lower back muscles
  • improper running form, improper shoes
  • sitting or standing for long periods of times with no stretching

THE BEST WAY TO TREAT AND EASE THIS PAIN:

 

  • reduce or postpone running for a few days, or weeks.
  • Alternate heat and ice, use a heating pad for 20 minutes, then use an ice pack for 20 minutes. 
  • check running form, maybe make an appointment with a professional to check biomechanics
  • FOAM ROLL!!!  Rolling initiates a process for muscles to relax. By applying gentle pressure onto a muscle, the foam roll helps the tight, tense muscle fibers, into a more natural alignment thereby allowing the muscle to function properly. This also helps to improve blood flow to the muscle which not only helps to minimize pain (such as sciatica or low back pain), but it can also help to reduce one’s risk for injury and with prolonged use, can even reduce the appearance of cellulite dimples. ;) woohoo!

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  • STRETCH, STRETCH, STRETCH!!! I can’t stress it enough how much this helps with muscle pain! here are a few stretches you can do:

BUTTOCK STRETCH: The buttocks stretch targets the piriformis muscle and is a very effective way to relieve sciatic nerve pain. Start on all fours on the ground, bend the leg in which you are feeling the pain under your torso, putting your knee facing out. Extend the other leg fully behind your torso, keeping the pelvis straight. While keeping the affected leg in place, slowly move your torso down to the ground while leaning forward on your forearms. Continue until you feel a deep stretching sensation, holding the position for up to 30 seconds. Then switch legs.

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PIRIFORMIS STRETCHThis stretch is a stretch done on your back. With your legs flat on the ground, slowly bend your right knee toward your chest while holding the knee with your right hand, cross your opposite leg across the one you are holding (almost like a pretzel). Gently pull your right knee inward, while giving it resistance until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and then change sides to target the other side of the body.

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  • PLANKS are very important, as they strengthen your core muscles (abs) and your lower back, which are two muscles that hold it together, if you have a weak core, it can cause a lot of lower back and Sciatic pain. Try holding for at least 30 seconds, then once you can try adding another 30 seconds increase and so on. 

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  • I NEED A HUG STRETCH- Pull your left leg towards your chest, hugging your left knee to your chest. Keep your back, shoulders, neck and head relaxed on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds then switch legs.
  • AB CURLS- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Your arms are crossed over your chest with your fingers touching the opposite shoulders. Your lower back is pressed into the floor. Curl up, bringing your shoulder blades off the floor, about 30 degrees and keep your chin tucked. Pause and hold. Then slowly curl back down without placing your head on the floor. Try to do 10 of these. This exercise will help build core muscles to control lower back pain. 

I hope you can use these tips to help ease your pain, using a heating pad and then the foam roller is very effective and quick, since the heat relaxes your muscles, the foam roller finished the job by releasing the tension. I also find ice very useful, as it can be swelling that causes the pinched Sciatic nerve. As long as you stretch, and use the foam roller, and do these exercise you should not run into any issues!! =)

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A Scoliosis runner, trying to inspire others to RUN after their dreams and never giving up. Nothing is impossible. Don't find excuses find a way to reach your goals!

Posted on April 8, 2013, in Injury prevention, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. I’m convinced that planking solves a lot of runner’s ills. Starting this month I started to try a plank everyday especially before a run. My running has improved! My runner’s knee has been reduced and my PF is not nearly as problematic.

    I’ll try some of these other stretches as I think they’ll enhance what I’m doing with my planking.

    Nice post!!

  2. Thank you very helpful

  3. Great stretches…I have started to stretch (even during my runs) and it seems to relieve the sciatica pain I have had since last year after breaking my pelvis…thanks for sharing

    Shannon at I Survived and Now I Run

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a runner who ran my first half-marathon in the beginning of June. Almost immediately after, I started experiences sciatic pain (although I didn’t know what it was yet!) It was incredibly painful, and such a buzz-kill after an amazing race experience! I finally gave in and saw a doctor who recommended me to a physical therapist. I have been seeing her for 2 weeks, but overall its been about 6 since the onset of pain. Things are slowly improving, but it’s incredibly frustrating for someone like me who needs to be moving constantly. I am dying to get back to running, but want to take it easy to avoid a serious, chronic injury. I’ll definitely take these tips to heart when I start up my regular routine again, and start training for my second half-marathon in October. Thank you!!

    • Thank u for this post I have been fighting pain near the end of my training for my first half marathon . I believe I finished it off after the race haven’t ran since. I am going to the doctor again hopefully getting some PT its been going on for months. I really hope its something that can be fixed .i have a fear it could be a bulging disc too.
      I want to run another half in October.

  5. Thank you so much for posting this!! I ran my first half-marathon in June and almost immediately after I began having sciatic pain (although I didn’t know that’s what it was at first!) I tried to ignore it and push through the pain, but I eventually caved and saw my doctor who recommended me to a physical therapist. My symptoms seem to be improving since I started therapy, but as you can imagine it has been incredibly frustrating dealing with and not being able to run or exercise the way I’m used to. I’m trying my best to be patient and take it easy so it doesn’t turn into a full-blown chronic injury, but taking it easy is not something I’m good at. I’ll definitely keep what you have posted in mind as I continue to “recover”, and hopefully I’ll be good to go and begin training for my second race in October! Thanks again!

    • that is unfortunate about your pain but glad to hear you are recovering and acted fast as far as getting it taken care of!!! Good luck in October! Im sure you will do fine. You can do these stretches through out just to keep your pain from returning

  6. Doris Braddock

    Where do I get one of those foam thingys?!

  7. Hi I had a non-running question about the plank. I’ve been struggling with low back pain for quite a while, and was getting a sharp pain in my lower hip/butt. I suspect it may be the sciatic nerve is compressed (I was recently pregnant and since have started back up on my old routine). My question though, is during plank my legs have started going numb, and this sharp tingling occurs until I stop. I’m wondering if it could be further proof of sciatic nerve issues? While standing or sitting I have no issues with numbness.
    Thanks for the input!

    • hey Abby, Yes everything does point to your sciatic nerve as the issue. Planking does NOT cause any pain whatsoever. It makes your core sore because of the workout, but not painful. If your legs are going numb then it could be a pinched nerve in your butt. Have you tried any stretching? Using the foam roller or a tennis ball is VERY effective to ease the pain. If your muscle is tense and tight you need to release it. Using the foam roller will do just that.

      • I was getting deep tissue massage before the pregnancy, and have since been using a tennis ball to try to release some of the muscles. I’ll probably just keep doing that, with stretching. Should get better eventually. I just don’t want it to get to the point where it would be painful to walk.
        Thanks for the input btw :-)

  8. Wow glad I found your blog, my hips been hurting for two weeks, and these stretches are giving me relief. I’ve run for years and this is a new injury for me.

  9. Wow glad I found your blog, I’ve been having this hip pain for about two weeks and it’s screwed up my running schedule. These stretches are definitely relief. I’ve been running for years and this is the first I’ve ever had this problem.

  10. I’ve been dealing with sciatic pain in my butt for a couple months now but have found stretching and massaging helps a lot. Three weeks ago I started doing planks. As I’ve gotten to where I can hold it longer (5minutes) my lower back started to hurt (my lower back curves in quite a bit). This morning I couldn’t even bend over and couldn’t go for my normal run. I’ve been icing and heating when I’m not at work. After seeing your diagram I believe it probably is related to my sciatic. Any thoughts?

    • Well if you plank too long, it does cause lower back pain. Also if its done improperly it will causepain. Make sure your abs are tight when you plank otherwise your lower back will do all the work. Sciatic pain is in your leg/butt/upper buttock. You can try to foam roll or stretch that area and see if it helps. But it sounds more like you need to take a break from the planking. Do 1 to 2 mins planks if you must

      • I’ve had my husband check my form but maybe I need yo work on it again. Also would it be better to do a 2 minute plank 2 or. 3 times a day instead of one long one?

      • It may be easier on your back to do so. You can do a plank in the morning midday and night if you must. But doing one plank a day is sufficient to keep your core strong. Hold it for 2 minutes and see how that goes.

  11. Extremely useful stuff. Thanks for sharing. Have not been able to run due to severe pain behind the buttocks.

  12. I’ve been having these symptoms for about a month. Got bad enough I stopped running for 7 days now. I’ve been doing the heat, ice, heat, foam roller, stretching as suggested and its helping. I was wondering when I am better if I should follow this same suggestions before and after my run to prevent this from happening again. I also plan to start doing plank exercises. I’ve been running for over a year without any problems until recently. I run 4 to 5 times a week 6 to 8 miles at a time. Thanks for your help.

    • I am glad it is helping. and yes, as a preventative measure, stretch it VERY good after running. If you feel sore get on that foam roller! Planking is a GREAT core move! Totally recommend it

  13. Agree with the planking & stretching. But have found over the years my pain worsens if I don’t run… could be because mine is related to sitting too long (travel for work) I also get a deep tissue massage once a month per my neurologist orders.

  14. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I am going
    to forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have
    a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  15. You recommend heat and ice. Where exactly should you apply this. Is that small of your back or more where the pain is at (in my case lower on my butt and down my leg).

    • Hey Carolyn, is your pain deep in your butt? It could be your sciatic nerve. But yes, apply heat first for a little bit then alternate with ice. Or just do either one, whatever eases the pain better.

      • Yes, it’s in my butt. I went to a massage therapist and she said it’s my sciatic. I’m just wondering if I put the ice and heat on where the spin is in my butt or on the small of my back.

  16. Great post! Been reading about ways to get over my back pain recently. Thanks for the info here!

  17. Wow! So glad to have found this post!

    I’ve held off of running for the past week and a half and it is super hard because of the rush I am used to getting. Hopefully these tips will help me get back in my running shoes! Thanks!!

  18. I’m so glad I came across your website! The stretching exercises you printed have taken away my sciatica pain! I can run again without pain. I’m starting to do planks to keep my core in shape.

  19. Thank you SO MUCH for this info. I didn’t exactly know the source of my pain, but after reading this I am convinced this is what I have. Thanks for the detailed description and or the stretches!

  20. Thanks for the advice – i have a pelvic alignment problem, and been seeing a physio for weeks, I can sit forever. walk a mile but cannot stand for long. a hard surface is the worst, left leg pain and burning calves….. i used to walk 10 miles most weeekends. and cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel

  21. Is it possible for some to be overstretching? Keeping it irritated. I am having to work through mine. Just wondering.

  22. Kerry Minervini

    Wow! I am so glad I found this site! I too have very bad scoliosis (Wore a full body brace for 5 years) and have one leg shorter than the other. I started running two years ago and I love it but it has been taking its toll on my lower back and knees. I am definitely going to try these stretches and planks in hopes that it will alleviate my pain. Running is the only form of exercise I have ever been this passionate about. Thanks!

  23. I’m really at a loss as to what to do for my problem. I love jogging but have recently (1 year ago) found that I have 3 ruptured discs and a torn annulus. I have been seeing a chiro and he has been adjusting me and putting me on a decompression bed; however, if I miss a few days of going to see him my pain comes back. I saw a surgeon and he gave me cortisone injections and they helped for a week but again the pain returned. I really don’t know what to do next. Should I go see a sports doctor, neurologist, or try the planks? My specific symptoms are low back pain, sciatic pain and hip pain. I just want to be healthy again and get back to an active lifestyle. Please forward any suggestions or comments.

    • Hey Renee, I’m sorry to hear about your pain. Trying to see a sports doc can be helpful. If you get pain when you aren’t receiving massages or things like that then you need to see someone else. Not sure if you doing planks will help. But stretching your sciatic and hip might help. Obviously being very careful that you aren’t aggravating it. Using KT Tape keeps my sciatic and hip pain from getting worse.

  24. Great tips! I think stretching is often underestimated as a healing agent, but i know it has made a tremendous difference for me :)

  1. Pingback: Do You Have Lower Back Pain from Running? | Inversion Expert

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