Sciatica and Exercises sound counterproductive at first. But the truth is, while bed rest is beneficial at the beginning of a sciatica flare up, it will probably worsen your condition if overdone (more than a couple of days). You want to get back to your normal routines as soon as you can (of course avoiding the parts that got you into this condition). Once you worst pain has subsided you should seriously consider different types of exercises, depending on the cause of your sciatica pain. What helps in one case may harm another. For that reason always see a physician before starting exercises to make sure you can start exercising and which exercises to perform and with what frequency.
Having said all that I would like to focus on one type of exercise which will most likely be one of the more beneficial to your sciatica pain. Warm water exercises. Though while having an acute injury warmth is to be avoided and cold needs to be applied, once the healing process has started warm water is highly beneficial in several ways.
Soaking in warm water helps you to relax, increases the circulation and helps loosening up tightened muscles; it also helps speeding up the healing process. It returns some mobility to you, since the warmth makes the muscles more pliable. It is a good idea to soak in warm water for a while before starting to exercise (don’t go too long, so your body won’t overheat).
Now that you are nicely relaxed you could do some water exercises, which will be much easier to do than regular exercises since being suspended in water takes most of the pressure of your spine, disks, joints, ligaments and muscles; it also lessens the pain of some of the exercises and the fear of pain, which in itself can cause you to tense up.
The resistance of the water will make your muscles work harder while at the same time reducing impact and stress for the rest of your body. Even just walking or marching in water can help reduce muscle spasms and pain.
Warm water exercises and water exercises in general are a good starting point for exercises altogether after an acute sciatica flare up and many other causes of back pain. Warm water exercises are some of the most beneficial exercises since they combine the reduction of inflammation due to increased circulation and the strengthening of the muscles that you will need to keep your back and sciatica nerve in good health.
Aside from water exercises there are all kinds of other exercises you can gradually “grow into”, but before doing any kind of exercises (now that you have consulted your physician and know which exercises to perform), always start with a warm up routine for at least 5 minutes. That could be a short walk, even walking in place or the use of an exercise bike.
In the beginning you will probably only be doing gentle back stretching exercises and then gradually extend into back and abdomen strength building and balancing exercises. You should also add some low impact aerobics to your routine at some point. If you find a good balance of all these exercises you will use a wide variety of muscle groups, which in turn will assure the prevention of future flare ups.
So in short: Sciatica and exercises belong together, if you want to see long term relief from your painful sciatica symptoms. Always consult your back specialist before starting to exercise or self-treat your symptoms and causes, so you know for sure what you can, should and shouldn’t do.