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Is it Okay to Exercise With a Pinched Nerve?

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Is it Okay to Exercise With a Pinched Nerve?
Shoulder pain from a pinched nerve can cause difficulty when exercising.

A pinched nerve occurs when soft tissues place pressure on a nerve. Although a pinched nerve can occur anywhere on your body, they are most common in places like the back and wrists. A pinched nerve can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including numbness, pain, tingling and muscle weakness. If you are an active person, a pinched nerve can make it difficult to exercise. This does not, however, mean that exercise is impossible.

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When you experience a pinched nerve, regular exercise can help to strengthen your muscles while relieving muscle tension. However, you may not wish to engage in exercise when you are experiencing a particularly painful pinched nerve flareup, as it can increase you pain level. Instead, relax and rest for one to two days, which can help to soothe irritated nerves. You may, however, gently stretch your muscles throughout the day to keep the nerves from becoming irritated further.


Always warm-up and stretch before exercising to soothe irritated nerves and help you maintain flexibility. Start by walking or jogging for five minutes, then stretching the areas where your pinched nerves gives you pain. Engage in slow, gentle stretches -- do not bounce or stretch to the point of pain. Also take steps to maintain good form while you exercise. Stand in front of a mirror to check that your posture is good and your body is in the correct position for the exercise you are performing.

Proper Exercises

Avoid performing only one regular exercise, because this can lead to overuse injuries and exacerbate your pain. Regularly perform low-impact exercises like walking, using an elliptical machine, swimming or riding a bicycle. These exercises do not place significant impact on your joints, which can help to prevent pinched nerves from becoming worse. High-impact exercises like running, step aerobics or contact sports can also make your pinched nerve worse.


Take some measures to help you exercise more comfortably. Take an analgesic medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and inflammation. If you continue to experience pain while exercising, your physician may administer a cortisone shot to relieve nerve inflammation. If you experience pain following an exercise session, take a hot shower or apply heat and ice to the affected area to reduce the pain of your pinched nerve. However, if you do not experience pain relief over time, see a physician to discuss more invasive treatment options.

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