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Pilates Exercises for Sciatica

Tips from Brent Anderson PhD, PT, OCS and President of Polestar Pilates


Updated June 20, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Pilates Exercise

Swan Prep

courtesy of Kolesar Studios

When any kind of pain is present it is important to work with a qualified instructor, but Anderson says people with sciatica should do exercises at home too. Not only that, he says: I have clients who say "I feel great here but terrible when I go back to work", and I say, do Pilates at work!

Home Exercises for Sciatica
Anderson suggests that most of the pre-Pilates exercises are good for people at home to do. Specific examples he gave included:

Dr. Anderson went on to say that there is no limit on the exercises. It's based on if they feel good. Even exercises like modified hundreds and single leg stretch could work.

I ask Dr. Anderson if there are any exercises that should just flat-out be avoided. I'm encouraged by the possibilities in his answer:

Anderson: I'm much more inclined to do whole body movement and do modifications to perform the movement successfully. As a teacher I will modify the exercise and make corrections to provide a successful movement experience without pain. I'll tell the student it's their responsibility to let me know when you have discomfort, and my responsibility to modify the exercise so that they have a successful movement experience. That formula has been the best for dealing with those who suffer from back pain or for that matter, any kind of pathology or injury.

Exercises that would probably bother a person with sciatica would be exercises like rolling like a ball - if they were irritating the sciatic nerve where it exits the notch; and intense stretches like spine stretch, spine twist, and saw. At the same time, one could possibly modify those exercises so a person could perform them without discomfort.

Next, Tips for Instructors

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