Can Anyone Share Recovery Tips on Herniated Disc/Sciatica

Hi guys I have been consistently lifting for a few years and recently been diagnosed with herniated disc L4-L5 L5-S1 via MRI and now mainly had sciatica symptoms whenever I lifted weight.i am not on any PEDs but had muscle in my body but I am overweight(according to BMI) and my belly is especially fat(Maybe because of psychiatric meds).I find many benefit lifting weight and training in general and if I just do bodyweight routine,I won’t have any discomfort at all,but lifting weight seems more exciting for me minus the pain though.
Should I give up lifting weight or is it possible to continue lifting weight and minimize my symptoms?I have tried many different ways ranging from PT,and some session of chiro but does not helped much.If I stopped lifting for close to a week,my lowerback would be fine and it’s as if I never had a injury

1 Like

Dude, you’re doing something wrong; this is good news - we can fix this. Let us know exactly what your plan looks like and posts some videos of offending lifts.

I had a couple surgeries at these levels after fractures and herniations. I’ve recovered pretty well, although I do still have one Frankenstein foot. I lift 3-5x a week. Ideally, let’s avoid surgery for you.

How fat? Only asking because it’s not super common to see fit folks have sciatica. Whether sciatica happens before weight gain, or because of weight gain is up for depate - but the two are absolutely related.

Were you overweight before you developed sciatica symptoms, or was it sciatica - then weight gain?

Are you losing weight currently?


I hear you on this, but I was pretty fit then. I actually first thought I’d torn a hamstring, but it was the disc/ fragments pressing the spinal cord.


I workout first thing in the morning,could this be one of the reason??I like working out in the morning as it means consistency.

I have close to 18%-20% bodyfat and I do pull up,if feels like I am pulling my belly on the last few reps of a set


1 Like

I dunno man. I really need more info to be helpful. If you’re pulling 600 lbs without warmups, time of day might be a factor; if you’re doing yoga, it’s probably not.

These are two resources I recommend highly looking at first.

1 Like

I am working out at home with now moderate intensity

1.Dumbbell bench press(35kg each hand)X50rep
2.Lateral raise(11kg each hand)X60rep
3.Front raise(11kg each hand)X60rep or upright row(11kg ea)X60rep
5.Plank 6min
Back focused stretch 10min
Ice 12min twice a day

1.Pull up+4kgX50rep
2.Single arm bench row(31kg ea)X50rep each side/inverted row+4kgX50rep
3.bicep curl(11kg)X50rep
5.Plank 6min
Back focused stretch 10min
Ice 12min twice a day

1.DB lunge(17kg ea)X100rep
2.Bench step upX50rep
3.Bodyweight squatX75rep
4.Plank 6min
Back focused stretch 10min
Ice 12min twice a day

Jog 1hr
Ice 12min twice a day

I was doing much more and more variety of exercise like shoulder press,bent over row and goblet squat,but removed all these after my MRI and orthopedic visit.Still I get nerve pain after 2-3 days into the routine.I think my next step is exercising at night.I am 5ft5 short but I am weighing 79kg,with most fat on my belly(probably psych meds I am taking daily)

I workout first thing in the morning.7am,drink my pre workout and go straight to my workout place

1 Like

Awesome - thanks.

I’ll assume all the rep counts are totals vs in a single set. Otherwise, you’re holding 6-minute planks, and I’m just amazed!

I don’t think time of day matters. You’re really not doing anything from a spinal loading standpoint.

A handful of thoughts:

  • What do you do for work/ daily activity? The whole day comes into play, you know?
  • Are you male or female? Not going to change a ton in terms of advice, but hips and weight do sit differently.
  • Do you take walks? Right off the bat, I’d recommend a ton of walking if you can; it’s typically what they’d recommend for post-op rehab anyway. It will actually give you an uncomfortable back pump at first, but that will dissipate as you get fitter. It’s fine, anyway, we want to get any sensation into your lower back and out of your leg as step one.
  • I don’t see anything that strengthens your lower back in there. I’d probably recommend starting with bird dogs and Supermans.
  • I would do this routine fewer days a week. You mentioned you feel poopy when you train; and fine when you don’t. Maybe we can get the benefits of training and mitigate the consequence by simply giving you some time to recover - let’s maybe move to three days a week.

How did I miss this! What did the ortho recommend?

1 Like

All my exercise are 10rep a per set,but If I cannot do 10reps,would add another set to reach 10

I work as a sales assistant so mostly sitting at the office

I am 32M

I have always go jogging instead of walking,should really be walking since jogging might also not be beneficial for my issue

Bird dog,superman

yea if night time won’t work,I will lower the training daya

The first thing he said after I describe my problem to the orthopedic ,he said it’s herniated disc.Then he order me to do MRI and he’s right that I had herniated L4-L5 L5-S1.He told me that eating 7 egg a day is not normal and told me to stop lifting weight for a while and stick to swimming.He mentioned don’t lift anything bending over and overhead and also don’t load my spine

Like yesterday morning I did chest&shoulder,and after 3pm during work,my sciatica flare up right until
I fall asleep.So today should be by back and arms and I didn’t workout and never felt any pain at all

My reason for wanting to change my workout to night it’s because after my night workout I would be lying in bed for 8-9hrs hence my spine might not have to be loading my weight instead if I workout right in the morning,I would be sitting and standing 12 hr before I go back home and rest.A chiropractor actually said to me that timing doesn’t matter.But working out in the morning is a very beneficial thing tbh

I am 5ft5 and weight 79kg.My sciatica happens after I up my intensity of workout and was gaining weight without purposely bulking

I am trying to lose weight but it’s so difficult since I cannot be consistent to my routine due to my sciatica

I had L4-L5 and L5-S1 herniated discs, same as you. The sciatica was terrible. I saw several different physical therapists, had dry needling, acupuncture, McKenzie method therapy, massage etc. Basically anything to try and avoid surgery. After 8 months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I continued to lift during all of this time, avoiding stress on my lower back/hip hinges. My leg training was most affected and was limited to leg extension, leg curl, sissy squat, split squats and the like. I did find that belt squat was tolerable. I had a great surgeon who had operated on many athletes named Dr. Greg Landford at the Nashville Centennial Hospital. I has a microdiscectomy and laminectomy. The survey took slightly less than an hour. I resumed training on the third day after surgery, very light weight, mostly dumbbells and machines. The Dr. recommended that I no longer squat or deadlift. I have tried to back squat and deadlift a few times since with very bad results. Although these lifts are often considered core or necessity exercises, you can build and maintain a great physique without them.


My experience was similar to yours (I had to have it done twice, though, because I’m an overachiever!). I have since deadlifted 500s and squatted mid-400s. I’m not saying that was necessary or even intelligent, but they were goals of mine and I guess I’m just trying to illustrate the surgery wasn’t a death sentence at all.

I absolutely agree those lifts aren’t requirements at all.


I don’t understand the correlation between what I said, your disagreement, and your resources. I don’t disagree with your resources or what’s in them, nor do i see that they disagree with anything I said.

It’s fine if you disagree, and I’m not saying fit people don’t get sciatica or won’t get it - simply that heavier people (who are generally not fit, not always the case) are more likely to get sciatic pain.

What I am saying is that rarely do you see fit people saying they have sciatica. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias, but the only people I’ve ever known to have sciatic pain have been overweight, and significantly - working desk jobs and doing nothing to help it get better. Fit people typically do not ‘fit’ that mold.

I’m just not sure what you’re disagreeing with.

It was very difficult for me to accept not being able to deadlift. I know 3 other people that have had similar surgery and all were able to return to competitive CrossFit. To be honest, deadlifts and back squats were never really a good fit for me. But there is nothing like the feeling you get from a good pull from the floor!

1 Like

I disagree with the statement that fit people don’t get sciatica.

My resources did not address issues related to risk factors for sciatica, and were not intended to support my disagreement. They were provided to discuss the utility of imaging and pathology with sciatica, and key components of living well with nerve pain

1 Like