BPS #051: Is Walking Good For Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Today, we’re going to talk about or answer the question, is walking good when you have sciatica pain? But before that, I need to address something. You see, this shirt and guys, if you are just listening to the podcast, we also have a video podcast, but you can go back and look at that then.

Anyway, I have this shirt on okay, and I’m getting all kinds of questions from people all around the world asking me “Why are you just wearing the same shirt?

Well, I’m not mixing it up a bit. As I told you guys that I’m on vacation and when I go on vacation, I pack it very light. I have like two shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, one pair of pants, one pair of shoes, and I just wear that and I’ll wash it. So it’s clean but I can’t be switching around my wardrobe too much when I’m traveling.

And that’s also good back pain tip you know. If you are traveling, you should really try to pack light. It’s just less stuff to walk around with. Anyway, back to today’s question and a lot of questions come in from people that have sciatica, and they’re asking me you know, why is it so good to walk? Or should I walk? Or is it dangerous to walk when you have sciatica pain?

So to answer the question, I’m going to tell you a story here about Robert. Robert, he’s 44 years old. He’s male and he pulled his muscles when he was in his 20s playing basketball. That was his big, big passion in life, playing basketball.

During the years he had had many different jobs, but most jobs were quite heavy you know. He was working in a grocery store. He was in construction. He also had some job when he was doing pavement on the roads. So he’s always been using his body and the pain started off quite bad in his lower back, but now he has radiation down both his legs, where it increased year by year. He’s more and more frustrated around this pain he had and the radiation down his leg.

So about six or seven years back, he needed to give up basketball, because every time he jumped or especially when he landed, it just felt like he had shooting pain down both of his legs. He needed to give that up.

Also he now is working in the office so he doesn’t need to use his body as much and that really makes him depressed because he likes to be outdoors and use his body when he’s working. So he’s quite depressed around that.

And the third thing he was telling me was that when he’s intimate with his girlfriend now, it’s not really pleasurable anymore for him. It’s more painful than pleasure, and that really makes him feel less like a man. He’s really, really concerned about this because he doesn’t have any kids now. He has a younger girlfriend, but eventually, he’s going to want to have kids in a few years. He’s also very concerned that he’s not going to be able to take care of the kid and be that active dad that he wanted to be.

So also, the other problem is like externally, because he’s not moving around that much, he put on quite a bit of weight. Growing up, he was really buffed and he was into sports but now he’s put on quite a bit of weight, and he’s not really comfortable working out at gyms and stuff.

He’s taking a lot of comfort like he’s eating a lot of food. That’s his comfort. That’s his joy now. That’s his safe spot and he knows that that’s not a long-term solution for him, but at the moment, that’s the only thing that can keep him calm, you know, at least a short period time to make him feel good.

This is like a year back now. He had a car crash – big, big car crash, and he got quite banged up. He broke his leg and something happened to his arm as well. So he was in bed most of the time for almost two weeks.

The other stuff, the arm thing and his leg that cleared up, but the thing was when he started to get up again, he tried to get up again, his back was just killing him even more. That’s like 10 or 20 times more than before, and that was due to because he was lying down for such a long time, right, these two weeks. That really messed his back up.

So that’s when he came to me, after this when the leg had healed and the arm was also healed and his back pain was so bad that he could barely move and that’s when he came to me.

So he came also and he understood. He told me very frank, you know, I’m ashamed of my body. I put on so much weight so I know I need to exercise daily. I need to do exercise daily but I’m too ashamed to go to the gym because of my body appearance. And I’m also in a lot of pain.

So he didn’t really understand or he had this big conflict you know. He needed to move and go and exercise, but he was too ashamed to show his body to other people.

So we had a chat about it you know. I said the best and easiest way for you is to start walking. And the goal should be that you should be walking for like 40 to 60 minutes every day. I understand now with the leg and your back and everything that you’re not going to be able to do that, the full hour in the beginning, but you need to like, first off, you start off with 15 minutes in the morning. Then maybe 15 minutes after lunch and then 15 minutes in the evening. And you gradually increase that.

So he got back and he started to do that, to walk and we had also contact on Skype a few times you know. So I told him you know, that the big important thing knowing also why it’s working because he was asking me, “Robin, I’m feeling a bit better, but what is the secret with this walking stuff?”

I told him “You know, if you have sciatica and other pains as well in the back, what happens when you’re walking, endorphins are actually shooting out, creating and that reduces your pain.”

Endorphins is kind of like it’s the body’s own painkiller medicine that’s created naturally. Also when you’re walking it reduces and can reduce the inflammation around the sciatica nerve. So those are the two big benefits when you’re walking and you have sciatica. That works. That definitely works.

So he’s on this routine and he got quite addicted to it because that’s also something that you as a back pain sufferer should know. That most of the time when you get exercises, that you’re not doing, it’s just because they’re not delivering results.

Whenever you’re doing something and get results from it, then you want to do more of it. And Robert was absolutely getting results from this walking thing. So he got a good pair of walking shoes, and he was dedicated.

He got like a like a calendar that he put up next in his bathroom. He put it up there and he did a big X every time he did the walk in the morning. He always did the first thing in the morning before breakfast, before anything, he went out.

He started off to do like a half an hour in the morning, and then half an hour before dinner, but eventually, after like four or five months, he could do the full hour in the morning, directly.

So he did that. He got up an hour earlier before he needed to go to work, and he did his walk. He had his breakfast. Got showered and went to work. And he was on this routine. He was very, very strict.

So the next time we had a Skype call, he was showing me the calendar you know, and that been a year then. He was showing me month by month. He didn’t miss one day.

For one year, he was walking every day for like an hour. It was just amazing. He lost all the weight. He was looking really good. He was very comfortable with his body now. He was keeping on doing the walking and he has actually been back to the basketball court. Not to play games or anything, but he was just standing there shooting hoops, having to chat with his friends and just getting into that again. He was very, very happy with that.

Also his relationship with his fiancée was better. They could be intimate without like him feeling pain all the time. So Robert is really doing well, and he’s absolutely 100% sure that he’s going to be okay, if he just keeps on doing it.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.