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Sit-Ups & Sciatica (6 Answers You Should Know)

If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica, you’ll know how uncomfortable it can be.

The pain and discomfort it can cause are enough to bring many people down, so it’s certainly an issue that most of us would like to avoid if possible.

If you don’t have sciatica and are wondering if there are exercises that may increase or decrease your chances of having to deal with it, then this article is for you.

If you have sciatica and are wondering whether some exercises may be better suited to training with the condition, then this article is for you too.

In it, we look at the relationship between sit-ups and sciatica.

We discuss whether sit-ups could potentially cause sciatica, whether you should do them if you have sciatica, as well as looking into some sit-up variations to see if some are better for sciatica than others.

Man doing a sit-up outside

Can Sit-Ups Cause Sciatica?

Sit-ups may not directly cause sciatica but they can play a part in your developing of the condition.

While having a strong core can be beneficial for avoiding sciatica, certain core-based exercises, like sit-ups, involve bending your spine forwards which can increase the pressure placed on your sciatic nerve.

As they can lead to more pressure being placed on your sciatic nerve, it makes sense that sit-ups are seen as a potentially sciatica-causing exercise.

That doesn’t mean that by doing sit-ups, you’re guaranteed to get sciatica. It just means that you should keep it in mind and do all you can to ensure you minimize the risks associated with the exercise.

Can You Do Sit-Ups With Sciatica?

Normally, sit-ups are best avoided if you have sciatica.

As they can cause greater pressure to be placed on your sciatic nerve (the nerve that is pinched and causes sciatica in the first place), sit-ups can actually make your sciatica pain worse.

When you have sciatica, depending on how severe your symptoms are, you can still exercise in some way.

In fact, exercise (in certain cases) can actually reduce the severity of your symptoms and can speed up your recovery time.

However, you need to ensure that any exercises you’re doing will not interfere with your recovery from sciatica.

Unfortunately, sit-ups are likely to make your situation worse, so it’s usually a good idea to avoid sit-ups with sciatica.

Are Sit-Ups Bad For Sciatica?

Sit-ups aren’t necessarily bad for sciatica but they can certainly make the symptoms worse for some people.

In many cases, people with sciatica will still be able to exercise. In these instances, they may be advised by their medical team to do core-strengthening exercises to help alleviate the discomfort they’re experiencing.

The core-strengthening exercises can help improve core strength and posture, as well as help reduce the pressure placed on the sciatic nerve. 

Sit-ups can actually increase the pressure on your sciatic nerve though which isn’t a good thing when you have sciatica.

Sit-ups may not be entirely bad for sciatica but they’re usually best avoided until you’ve fully recovered.

Do Sit-Ups Help Sciatica?

Person with sciatica holding their back

As a general rule, sit-ups are more likely to make sciatica symptoms worse than better.

You could be forgiven for thinking that sit-ups can help sciatica as increasing core strength is meant to be very beneficial for sciatica.

However, the problem with sit-ups is that they bend your spine forwards which increases the pressure on your sciatic nerve. If you have sciatica, this is something that you want to avoid if you want your pain to subside.

Sit-ups don’t usually help sciatica so they probably aren’t a good addition to your training program if you’re suffering from it.

How To Do Sit-Ups With Sciatica

The best way of doing sit-ups with sciatica is to not do them at all!

The potential risk of making your symptoms worse by doing sit-ups is too high to consider it a good idea.

Unless you’re advised to do so by a medical professional, your best bet is to avoid sit-ups if you have sciatica.

3 Best Sit-Up Variations For Sciatica

Knee Lifts

Start by laying flat on the floor with your knees bent and arms by your side.

Engage your abdominal muscles while lifting one foot around 3-4 inches off the floor. Lower this leg down before doing the same with the other foot.

Effectively, you’re doing a marching movement while in a sit-up position.

Your upper body stays flat on the ground and your lower body moves to help keep pressure off your spine and sciatic nerve.

Pelvic Tilt

Lay down with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by your sides.

Activate your abs and draw them down towards the ground (imagine trying to pull your belly button to the floor).

This should bend your pelvis up slightly which can help strengthen your lower abs while stretching your lower back.

Hip Raises

While laying on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent, push your feet down to the ground while lifting your hips up.

You should create a straight line down your body from your knees to your shoulders.


In summary, sit-ups aren’t either good or bad for sciatica. That being said, they can make the condition worse in certain people, so you should always consult a medical doctor before doing sit-ups with sciatica.

That’s all for this article, but why do you get chest pain when doing sit-ups? Or how many sit-ups should a 10 year old do?

Hope this helped!


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