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Sciatica Modifications?

Hi all

I am a relatively new lifter, have been in a great routine for the last 6 months.

By routine I mean 5 to 6 days a week.
Personal trainer 1 day 1hr HiiT
1 day heavy lifting upper
Multiple days core, legs, interval, lots of stretching and started adding 1 30 min yoga session.

Try to keep things changing with a big focus on stability and core.(history of back issues)

A few months ago I started to experience sciatica after a dead lift. Not heavy weight and good form. Since that time I have not been able to do a traditional deadlift and have to be very mindful of any pick off the floor lifts. Doesnt need to be heavy weight to irritate it and I dont have to be bending, lifting with legs bothers it too. Had it checked, no disk issues, appears to be pressure against it from muscle.

I’ve been trying to find modifications I can do to target the same areas. Been doing dumbells suitcases, deadlift machine with the upper grips, various types of light weight squats ( single legs seem fine)

Anyone else dealing it it, any tips?

Sometimes sciatica-like pain can be caused by a tight piriformis muscle, but without knowing the actual cause, doing piriformis stretches can actually make it worse in some cases if it’s not the cause of the pain.

Sometimes a reduction in dietary starches/carbohydrates can bring down general inflammation and reduce the nerve irritation. Not always, but it’s helped some people I know.

Hoping you can figure out what’s making it hurt so you can formulate a fix-it and get back to deadlifting.


This x2. Even if you had a disc herniation it would still be more likely that the sciatica would be piriformis tightness. The muscle can tighten on the sciatic nerve, like carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand. Look up piriformis stretches.

I do tire deadlifts which would be like off five inch blocks. I use 5/3/1 but I never do amap, I only do the prescribed reps. Using a lot of different types of deadlifts doesn’t work for me; Keeping my technique the same is easier.

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Since you have confirmed that you have no disc issues…

x3. Personally, I cannot pinpoint it to the piriformis muscle specifically, just veeery, very tight hip musculature (on one side) overall.

Also, many people “work the core”, but a much smaller percentage understand the concept of bracing:

Thank you guys, great tips, will do some research in this direction.

Update: I have been doing piriformis stretches and have felt an improvement. I was able to increase my seated row load without any pressure (never caused pain but it did cause sciatica pressure that made me be cautious). I haven’t tried to modify deadlifts yet, will continue the stretches as I can feel my left side more tight than my right however improving.

Any specific stability exercises for that area that could also help if imbalance is part of the problem?

Here’s a dumb little exercise.

You should be able to feel your hamstrings and glutes working (or not working). If one side is having problems it will be hard to balance and get through the move.

This one is more for the quad and hip.

Again, if one side is weak or tight or “off” you should be able to feel the difference.

One for obliques/abs and lat.

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Excellent, thank you. The first is the exact exercise that first started my sciatica pain. Was using a light weight and was near the end of a moderate leg session. I felt a pop at the top of my ham at my glute. This was the first symptom of the sciatica pain. After this happened I was very tight on that hamstring for quite awhile.

The 2nd two are part of my normal routine which I’m now able to do without any issue.