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We recently purchased an elliptical trainer to help us on our way to a healthier lifestyle. Over the past month, I've sporadically used it for about 10-15 mins at a time 3x week (trying not to overdo it). I've noticed that I'm having problems with my sciatic nerve after these mini exercise sessions. So I waited about 5 days, then tried again a few times, sciatic pain comes back. Should I just continue exercising despite the pain, maybe it is just my (aging) body adjusting - but it is just my left side, right side is fine, not a single twinge of pain. I had sciatic problems when I was pregnant w/dd 10 yrs ago, and have had a few minor lower back "issues" but nothing serious that didn't clear up in a few days. Thanks in advance for your suggestions/ideas. sally
07-15-2003, 11:31 AM
I use an elliptical trainor at the gym and have no back problems while my DH has had his sciatic nerve bother him quite a bit after using the elliptical trainor. He won't even go on it anymore.
I am definitely not an expert, but here are a couple things to consider, try to either go slower and/or reduce the tension, think about maintaining good posture while using the machine, and also make sure you wear good supportive sneakers.
07-15-2003, 12:25 PM
A lot of people get on elliptical trainers or stair step machines and they make a very common mistake: leaning forward. Some people lean WAAAAY forward, others just a little bit. What this does is tend to accentuate the general gluteal muscles, and it will compress your intervertebral discs a little bit. If you have some degenerative disc disease the disc compression may be enough to irritate the spinal nerves at one or more levels, which could result in "sciatica." If he pain is starting more in your rear end, then it is most likely due to irritation of the sciatic nerve where the piriformis muscle crosses over it.
First thing I would do would be to use this as a good excuse to start seeing a good chiropractor. After that, make sure you are staying upright when you work out, instead of leaning forward and sticking your rear out. Another thing you should do is stretch your pririformis muscles on both sides. It's an easy stretch but it would take me ten years to explain it in writing...
Ah, here's a link that's pretty good:
Also take the time to stretch your hamstrings, simply by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out and doing toe touches. NMake sure you stretch slowly and HOLD it, don't bounce. Do both the piriformis and hamstring stretch on both sides for about 30 seconds per stretch per side. Then relax for 30 seconds or so, and repeat for 2-3 cycles. Do this a couple times a day and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. If it aggravates you, see your chiropractor or medical doctor.
Thanks for your explanations and suggestions, they are very helpful! sally
07-15-2003, 06:04 PM
I have major back problems (3 herniated disks, 2 back surgeries, years of therapy) and I've found that I can use certain elliptical trainers, but not others. We did buy one for home, but I had to get on it and try it first; I can tell in about 30 seconds whether one will work for me or not. I assume it has to be something in the angle of the ellipse on some machines that aggravates the sciatic nerve. My husband loves the Precor machines and won't use anything else; if I get on one, I'm done for in about 5 minutes. If you have access to different kinds at a gym, you might try them and see what works for you and what doesn't. With the right machine, it's one of the few things I CAN do that doesn't aggravate my back. Good luck!
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