Machine Exercises for the Sciatic Nerve

When the long sciatic nerve in the posterior side of the body becomes irritated or compressed due to a slipped or degenerative disk, tingling sensations, numbness and weakness is felt down the back of the leg. To help treat this condition, known as sciatica, exercises are used to strengthen the back and core muscles, which offer stability to the spine. Weight machines are safe to use, as long as you execute proper form. Before you get started, make sure to get clearance from your healthcare provider.

45-Degree Hyperextension

The 45-degree hyperextension is a common exercise used to strengthen the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The machine used for this exercise has two padded supports with a steel plate where you place your feet. When doing this exercise, your lower body is in a fixed position. Begin by stepping onto the plate and placing your feet together. Carefully press the back of your lower legs against the lower support and rest your hips against the upper support. After crossing your arms on your chest, fold your body forward slowly until you form about a 90-degree angle. Rise back up in a steady motion and repeat.

Lying Crunch

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The lying crunch machine targets your abs from a face-up position. Begin by lying on your back, resting your heels on the upper support and grasping the handles by the sides of your head. Your knees should be bent 90 degrees at this point. Keeping your lower body still, move your head and shoulders forward by moving the lever arm. Once you are facing your thighs, squeeze your abs forcefully and hold for a second. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat. Make sure to keep your head and shoulders flat on the upper padded support at all times.

Seated Hamstring Curls

The sciatic nerve travels all the way down to the middle of the back leg. The hamstrings sit on the back of the thighs, and you can strengthen them by doing seated curls. What makes this exercise more advantageous than the lying curl is that you have less risk of lifting your hips. This often happens when you are in a face-down position, and it can place excess stress on your lower spine. Begin by sitting on the seat and placing your legs inside the padded supports. Your thighs should be tight to the stationary upper support, and your lower legs should be sitting on top of the padded lever arm. Keeping your upper body still, press into the lever arm to move it backward. Once you have gone as far as possible, slowly extend your legs back out and repeat.

Ab Crunch Machine

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The ab crunch machine differs from the lying crunch machine because it works the upper and lower abs simultaneously. You are also in a seated instead of lying position. Start by sitting on the seat, resting your back against the backrest and hooking your feet under the padded lever arm. Keeping your back tight to the backrest, reach up and grab the handles of the lever arm on the sides of your head. Steadily move your torso down as you lift your legs up. Once your elbows are by your knees, squeeze your abs forcefully and hold for a second. Lower yourself back down slowly and repeat.

Standing Hip Extension

Hip extension is the motion that takes place when you move your thigh backward. This causes you to work your glutes and hamstrings. The standing hip extension machine works these two muscles. Stand on the platform, and rest the back of your right thigh against the padded lever arm at knee height. Keeping your hands on the support rails, lift your right foot off the floor and extend your leg backward as far as possible. Slowly lower the lever arm, repeat for a set of reps and switch sides.