Exercises for Sciatica Caused by Spinal Stenosis

Learn 3 Back Stretches and Exercises in this Video Series

Spinal stenosis is one of the possible causes of sciatica—that shooting pain down your leg. What exercises you do to relieve your sciatic pain is dependent on what's causing it, so if your doctor has told you that it's spinal stenosis causing sciatic pain, then you're in the right place.

For sciatic pain (also known as lumbar radiculopathy) caused by spinal stenosis, there’s one goal for sciatica exercises and stretches: to get your pain to move up your leg and into your low back. The technical word for that is centralization, also known as localization. With sciatica, it is actually a good thing when you have pain only in your low back; it means that you’ve relieved the pressure on your sciatic nerve and related nerve roots.

Say that you have sciatic pain that stretches all the way down to the top of your foot. (The extent of your sciatica depends on where you sciatic nerve is affected in your low back. To read more about that, read our article on the symptoms of sciatica). As you do the exercises, you’ll know that they’re helping (and that you’re doing them correctly) if your pain moves up through your ankle and knee. It’s not that your pain will immediately relocate to your low back, but in time and by consistently doing the exercises, you should notice that your pain doesn’t extend as far down your leg.

To help you with your sciatica exercises and stretches, SpineUniverse has put together exercise videos showing what you can do to alleviate your sciatic pain. This video series and these exercises are for sciatica caused by spinal stenosis.

You may also check out SpineUniverse's Sciatica Slideshow to get all the basics, from sciatica's causes to its common treatments.

If your sciatica is caused by a condition other than spinal stenosis, we have video series that show exercises for other causes:

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • These videos are general guidelines. You should not do any of the stretches or exercises shown unless directed by your spine professional.
  • If you think of exercising as a 10 mile run followed by weight lifting, you may have to modify your exercise plan because of your pain. Your physician, physical therapist, or other spine professional will help you adjust your expectations within the context of your sciatic pain.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard while doing the exercises; you don’t want to injure yourself more. If you experience any pain or other symptoms (weakness, tingling, numbness, etc.), please contact your spine professional immediately.