Sciatica and back pain

Sciatica may or may not be accompanied by back pain. Sciatica is a condition where pain, weakness or altered sensation can be experienced in the buttock, hamstring, calf or foot due to increased sensitivity of the Sciatic nerve.

man-back-painThe Sciatic nerve runs from the lower part of the spine down the back of both legs to the feet. Sciatica symptoms vary from a mild cramping or tightening sensation in the hamstring or calf muscles to a constant shooting pain in the buttock, hamstring and down to the foot.

Not everyone will experience back pain and symptoms can be variable. The problem can manifest as back pain with leg pain, or leg pain only.

The important thing is to have a thorough assessment to ensure that there is nothing major going on / to worry about. In most cases there isn’t 🙂  The next step is to regain movement and confidence in being active – we can help you with a graduated programme to facilitate this.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms vary from a mild cramping or tightening sensation in the hamstring or calf muscles to a constant shooting pain in the buttock, hamstring and down to the foot.

Anyone with back pain who has any of the following should consult their doctor as soon as possible:

  • History of trauma – e.g. a fall or car crash
  • Aged younger than 20 or older than 55 when you first experienced back pain
  • Cancer in the past or present
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Prolonged use of Steroid medication
  • Immunosuppression / history of IV drug use
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Unremitting pain
  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Fever

What you can do


  • Consult a sports injury expert
  • Remain active and apply heat / ice packs  for pain relief


  • Exercise – the effect of exercise for pain relief is well documented, and general fitness and robustness for activity is essential

Pain-relieving medication and heat packs may be necessary during the first few days, but the best available evidence suggests that patients with sciatica should be advised to remain as active as they possibly can. This is based on the fact that research shows no significant difference between bed rest and staying active, and that there is no evidence that staying active is harmful for either severe low back pain or sciatica.

Specific back exercises, known as core strengthening and stabilising exercises may be effective in relieving back pain and restoring normal function. However you may prefer just to keep generally active with walking or try our exercise classes / individual sessions such as Pilates, Tai Chi or Yoga.


Exercise – and stay fit for purpose!

The body likes to move – and it responds well to doing things it is fit to do. So keep fit, stay active, consider the activities you like to do and avoid huge increases in activity – or be prepared to feel like you’ve done something!

Avoid prolonged stationary positions and keep active.

Move more – sit less!

Core Strengthening Programme

The Core Strengthening Programme is an exercise programme that aims to improve stabilisation and support to the spine. This is achieved by re-training specific trunk muscles, which may be under used.

Once these stabilising muscles have been re-trained the muscles of the arms and legs will have a more stable base to work from. This allows you to carry out arm and leg movements with more control and is thought to improve the quality of your movement.

Golf ShotHow will it help during sport?

  • It will provide more support for your back and may reduce the risk of back injuries.
  • It will provide a more stable base for arm and leg movements, improving the control and quality of your movements.
  • It will improve your muscular co-ordination during movement.
  • As the stabilising muscles gain more endurance you will be able to perform movements without your technique deteriorating excessively, due to fatigue.

Programme overview

  • 1

    Stage 1 - Learn

    Learn to contract the deep muscles which stabilise the spine. At first this takes quite a bit of concentration. Each individual will master this at their own pace. There is no set time, but perseverance is the key.

  • 2

    Stage 2 - Reinforce

    We give our clients little blue dots to place on everyday objects (watch/mobile/steering wheel etc) to act as a reminder to recruit the deep muscles on a regular basis)

  • 3

    Stage 3 - Exercises

    Begin arm and leg movements whilst contracting the deep stabilising muscles of the spine.

  • 4

    Stage 4 - Core strengthening exercises

    Progress to the core strengthening exercises, while contracting the deep stabilising muscles.

Body Movement Screen and Personalised programme

"It's like an MOT for your body"

We can offer you a full movement screen that analyses the way you move highlighting areas where you will benefit most from specific conditioning.

If you have a recurrent / long term problem, why not consider a body screen

Find out more about the Body MOT


30 minutes


45 minutes
(recommended 1st session)


60 minutes


30 minutes


45 minutes
(recommended 1st session)


60 minutes


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