When you experience a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, the disc may impinge the sciatic nerve. The resulting pain, sciatica, is often treated with exercises. The basic idea behind those exercises is to transition the symptoms from the legs to the lower back. Here are four of them that might be helpful to you.

Please note that it is necessary to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program.


Often the best way to relieve pain within the spine is to use extension exercises:

1.    In order to achieve extension of the lumbar spine to alleviate low back pain, lie flat on your stomach. Gradually press yourself upward, resting on your elbows, with your hips staying on the ground.

2.    Maintain the stance for 5 reps of 10 seconds each, if it isn’t too painful. You eventually want to get your time up to 30 seconds for each rep.

Advanced extension

Once you have completed the above exercise, the physical therapist might suggest that you try a more challenging version:

1.    With your stomach flat on the floor, instead of going onto your elbows, get yourself all the way up onto your hands. Release the muscles of your low back and buttocks. Make sure that you aren’t overdoing the stretch.

2.    Do 10 reps again, but make each of them just 1 second apiece so that you don’t aggravate low back pain.

“These extension exercises are done regularly, about every two hours,” explains physical therapist Ron S. Miller, PT. “More importantly, the spine specialist may recommend that the patient with this condition should avoid getting into a forward flexed (bent over) position.”

Advanced back exercise

As the pain shifts from the legs toward the lower back, physical therapy tactics start to focus on making the muscles of the lower back and abdomen stronger so that the herniated disc doesn’t cause any further leg pain.

For the back, try an upper back extension:

Flat on your stomach, grab your hands at your low back, and elevate your head and chest. Maintain for 5 seconds. Your goal is to get to 10 reps of 20 seconds apiece.

Advanced abdomen exercise

In order to strengthen the abdominals, try curl-ups:

Get onto your back. Your knees should be bent, your arms should be crossed at your chest, and your pelvis should be rotated forward so that your back is flat. Raise your head and shoulders off the ground. Maintain for 3 seconds. You want to eventually get to a total of 20 reps, performed as 2 sets.

Your sciatica recovery partner

Sciatica is best approached with an integration of sophisticated tactics. At Advanced Wellness & Rehab, we use physical therapy to strengthen the spine and surrounding muscles, spinal decompression to remove pressure from the nerves, and chiropractic adjustments to realign the spine and reestablish optimal health. >>> Free consultation