Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Sean McCawley: More help with sciatica

Sean McCawley: More help with sciatica

  • Updated

Last week we shed light on sciatica, a common injury affecting the general populations in everyday life. Sciatica is a lower back issue that causes numbness, lack of strength and nerve pain throughout the lower back that tracks down the lower extremities.

These symptoms are caused by disruptions to the sciatic network of nerves in the lower back and hip region. Compressed vertebrae, tight muscles and insufficient muscle tone contribute to this pain.

In part one of our sciatica discussion, we looked at these contributing factors of sciatica. We left off with how we can use a structured exercise routine to manage sciatica pain and possibly preventing it from occurring in the first place.

Adherence to exercise is one of the most important terms we emphasize within our personal training services. A critically important part of any effective exercise program is the ability to stick with a routine on a regular basis.

We can have the most groundbreaking exercises displayed in front of us at our local gym, on social media ads, or fitness classes. However, these productive resources won’t do anything if they are left unused. Proper exercise adherence should include two to three times a week of a planned-out exercise routine with the purpose of enhancing our livelihood.

Our lives turn out to be pretty nice when we are free of pain, have energy, and go throughout our day feeling happy and strong. Here are two exercises that are easy to adhere to and master that can be performed on a weekly basis:

Zombie Squat

A squat is a compound lower body movement responsible for change in elevation of the hips. This movement not only applies productive muscular stress to the lower extremities, but also utilizes the musculature of the abdominal and paraspinal muscles that circumference the spine.

Additionally, improved muscle functionality in the ankles, knee, and hips assist in keeping the hip joint free of impingement over the sciatic nerve in the buttock region.

Reinforcing squat muscles will lead to improving the muscular architecture surrounding the sciatic nerve network to decrease the likelihood of sciatic symptoms in the lower back and posterior hip region.

To perform the zombie squat, extend your arms out in front of the body to where the hand is elevated below the collar bones. While keeping the chest and head upright, point the toes forward and apply pressure to the ground like you are “spreading a crack apart in the ground.”

You should feel the glute muscles activate as your knees point slightly outward. Sit your hips down and back until you feel a brief stretch in the glute and hip flexor region. Ensure to keep the pressure on the heels.

Pay special attention to ensuring the heels don’t come off the ground or to let the arches of the feet collapse in. As you ascend form the squat, “push your heels into the ground” on the way up. This ensures utilization of the lower extremity to stand up. Repeat this movement for 3 sets of 5 to10 repetitions.

The Pushup

It seems that a pushup would be responsible for primarily upper body muscles. However, the pushup is a dynamic exercise featuring productive muscular stress on the elbow, shoulder, thoracic spine, the posterior and anterior aspect of the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles.

When performed with a purpose of strengthening these significant areas, pushups cover a lot of ground toward increasing overall body strength and decreasing annoying injuries.

Positioning the body face down and ensuring the hips and knees are strong is a physically and neurologically demanding movement requiring coordination of a vast area of muscular activation. When performed correctly, pushups are a potently effective tactic to improve upper body strength while also reinforcing the structural integrity of the spine, hips, knees, and ankles.

To perform, position your body similar to a straight arm plank position. Lower your body to where the elbows just cross the border of the back of the body, then push the body up to the straight arm plank position. Ensure that the knees stay extended.

Avoid injuries to the shoulder by decreasing the amount of elevation traveled toward the ground. If there are sensations of uncomfortable pain, go with the less is more principle.

Once you feel comfortable with your strength, perhaps you can progress by increasing the amount of distance traveled downward on each push up movement. This movement can also be done from an inclined surface to modify the difficulty level. Repeat this movement for 5 to 10 repetitions for three sets.

Tactics to alleviate pain should include two key themes, simple and effective. Living with physically debilitating pain is a sensitive topic. We don’t want to make things worse by putting in exercises that don’t work for a particular pain symptom. However, a primary objective should be to recover from a pain causing issue and return to everyday life activities.

When making the decision to commit to an exercise program, go into each session with the intention of eliminating risks of injuries, being as productive and efficient as possible, and feeling better finishing the workout than when you began.

We can’t thrive in life when being held up by painful symptoms such as sciatica. Pick exercises that are simple, effective, and easy to replicate on weekly basis to help us live pain free, happy, and strong lives.

Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, CA, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, or visit the website

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

  • Updated

Getting ready to travel again? Make sure to plan ahead for trips with a balanced exercise prescription to ensure your body is strong and injury-free to enjoy these life-changing experiences.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News